(Photo courtesy of Dog Haus Running Club in Pasadena, CA.)
Running is generally a solo sport. Winners are listed by name, not part of a team or country. It’s like tennis or golf. The individual gets all the glory. In all three of these sports, training and practice can be done alone or with others. But which is best? The answer is: It depends. Some people prefer running alone. Others enjoy the social aspect of it while others prefer a partner or two to push them and keep them accountable.
What do running groups offer? They offer like-minded people a chance to get together at least once a week to socialize and run. If you’re naturally shy or self-conscious about your running, I can assure you that running groups are the most inclusive groups you will find. Runners always want to seek out other runners and always want to turn people into runners if they can. I know I always try! Runners, and I know I’m biased when writing this, are some of the nicest, friendliest and warmest people I’ve met. Any running group you seek will immediately welcome you with open arms. There will always be at least one person who will say hi and make sure you’re comfortable as a first-timer to the group.
Don’t worry about being “too slow.” Running groups have people of all ages and abilities. The goal is not to race each other but to run together. There might be a small group of fast runners who take off to push each other but the majority of people will cruise at a leisurely pace that will enable them to chat with each other to some degree.
Running groups can also offer motivation. If you enjoyed your first or second outing with the group, it’ll motivate you to keep attending and, therefore, keep running. If you made a friend or two or three or four, that’s more motivation to keep going. If you did make a friend or two, you could go for runs outside of the larger group. You and others would be working together and motivating each other to run. It’s a win-win-win for everyone.
Running groups will have people who know their stuff. You can ask these people anything and everything if you think they can help you improve. Trust me, they’ll be happy to help.
Do running groups charge? Most of them are free to attend. They meet at a certain location and time. You show up and you run. People may chip-in periodically for things like pizza parties, t-shirts, water or post-run beer pitchers but those are never required to join.
Which group/groups is/are best for you? It depends on you. Some tend to skew younger in age (2os and 30s) while some tend to skew older (40s and up). Others may have more women than men and vice versa. Join a group in which you feel comfortable with the people.
Can you join multiple running groups? Of course! If you enjoy running with others, you can join as many as you like. There’s no rule, written or otherwise, that says you need to stick with just one.
Being from Pasadena, CA. I’m fortunate in that there are several running groups in my area. Where do I find them? Meetup.com is a great website to find a group or start one yourself. Just type in “running” in the search bar and groups will pop up that are near you.
If you live in and around Pasadena, here’s a list of some running groups: