Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
As someone who would consider themselves pretty social, it might come as a shock to some to know that when I was in college, I was diagnosed with social anxiety. Over the years, through both therapy and running, I’ve managed to find ways of coping when I feel anxious. I have learned that the what-if’s in life aren’t as bad as we sometimes imagine. When I stopped defining myself by what others thought of me, the social anxiety subsided. I realized that what other’s think of me, truly, is none of my business. What matters is what I think of me.
If you find yourself anxious at the thought of joining a running club for the first time, remind yourself: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
What if no one there is my pace?
Is that the end of the world? Maybe you won’t find someone your pace because you will be too fast for everyone that day. There very well may be no one your pace, it happens, and life goes on.
What if I have an off day?
Every runner has an off day. Some runners have them more than others. A bad run, or a run where you didn’t feel like yourself, does not make you a bad runner.
What if I end up running alone?
Not having anyone to run with because you are either slower or faster happens to every runner at some point. Maybe someone will slow down and run with you, or maybe they won’t; either way it’s not the end of the world.
What if I have to stop to go to the bathroom?
Every—and I mean every—runner has had to stop at some point on a run because they needed to go. So what if you have to stop?
What if they think I’m slow?
The only person worried about your pace is YOU. The majority of runners are incredibly accepting of runners of all paces. A mile is a mile, whether it takes you 5 minutes to run or 15 minutes to run. In a group of runners someone is always going to be the slowest, someone will always finish in last. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter where you finished, only that you finished.
What if they think I’m not a ‘real runner’?
Anyone who runs can consider themselves a runner if they choose. I promise you that no one is questioning whether you are a real runner. They are more worried about their run to even think about that!
What if I can’t talk because I’m out of breath?
It’s a fact of life that when you are pushing hard on a run you can’t talk. This means that even elites find themselves unable to talk on certain runs. The very nature of a group serves to push us harder, faster, and sometimes longer. You are working hard, be proud!
What if I get lost?
It happens. Bring your phone on the run and make Google Maps your friend!