Raise your hand if the only thing that gets you through your day is knowing that when the clock strikes run o’clock, you get to unplug, turn off and just go. Yup. Me too. One of the best parts about running is that it can be done anywhere, anytime and all by yourself.
But what if I told you that as much fun as running solo can be, joining a group run will make you a happier, stronger and more dedicated runner? I see you shaking your head. Before you exit this browser, hear me out.
It took me well over a year before I opened up to the idea of running with other people. I didn’t consider myself a real runner so what business did a new runner like myself have running with other people? I was afraid I was too slow or that I wouldn’t be able to talk and run at the same time. Well, I was wrong. Not only did I find mentorships and friendships that I probably wouldn’t have found had I not started joining group runs, but it helped me chase down intimidating goals and have a lot more fun on the days when I struggled to get out the door.
That being said, just like your very first run ever, taking that first step and joining a group run is terrifying. These are the 11 scariest parts about joining a group run.
1. The idea of running with a group.
How many people will be there? Do we all run the same pace and distance? What if I have a weird pain in my foot and have to stop to walk? Will I slow everyone down? I’m already really slow. And the sidewalks, streets, and trails are only so big, do we go two by two? Single file? Will anyone talk to me? See? Just the idea is overwhelming.
Arguably one of the scariest parts is actually committing that you’re going to go. There’s something significant and terrifying about clicking that RSVP button. Yes, that is your heart beating out of your chest. It’s happening.
3. Getting there early.
What if you get there too early and no one is there? Or what if you get there early and no one talks to you? And you just stand there Googling, “What is Justin Timberlake’s astrological sign?” or “Can fear kill me?” until someone introduces themselves to you? It’s scary.
4. Getting there late.
Or worse yet, what if you can’t find parking or what if you get lost and then you’re late! And you have to walk in and draw attention to yourself! Or what if everyone leaves and you’ve spent all this time panicking for nothing? WHAT THEN?!?
5. Introducing yourself.
Group runs sometimes make the new people introduce themselves to welcome them. What if you can’t remember your name or a funny fact. Or what if they make you sing? (I’m looking at you November Project NYC.)
6. Not knowing what your pace is.
My first group run, I was asked what my half marathon pace was. Then when I didn’t know what that was, they asked me what my 10K pace was. And when I didn’t know my 10K pace, they asked me what my 5K pace was. I had no idea what any of that meant. Don’t worry if you don’t know what paces you run at. Someone will be there to help you ballpark a number. Everyone has to start somewhere.
7. Not knowing what the workout is.
800 repeats? Ladder? Progression run? WHAT DO THEY MEAN? Don’t worry if you feel like the group leaders are speaking a different language, just ask the friendliest looking runner around you to translate. There’s no shame in not knowing what a progression run is. It’s better that you don’t.
8. Possibly getting left behind.
Even if you’re the slowest person there, everyone wants to see you succeed. You can’t compare your pace to anyone else’s. Fast and slow are relative terms! There’s no shame in your game! Show up and be proud that you’re doing it. Everyone shares the same goal, to get stronger together.
9. Possible worst case scenarios.
What if you have to go to the bathroom? Or what if you have to stop to walk? Or what if you’re so slow that you get lost and have to uber back!?! WHAT IF?!?! WHAT IF?!?! (Should you need a bathroom break, fear not. If there is one thing runners are comfortable talking about, it’s poop.)
10. It’ll be awkward.
What if everyone already has their inside jokes and their cliques or you don’t fit in? What if it’s awkward? Well, if that happens, you keep trying. Give it a full 4 weeks and if by the end of the 4 weeks you still feel like an outsider, try another group. Be patient and persistent.
11. You will actually enjoy it.
Besides having accountability for your workouts and accountabilibuddies who will make the experience a lot more rewarding, running a group is a valuable way to push yourself harder than you’ve ever pushed before. Is it scary trying something new and put yourself out there? YES. Will it be as awful as you imagine? No.
Sometimes it takes a few tries before you find the right group but I guarantee that if you give it a chance, you’ll fall in love with running with a group. Don’t worry about how fast or slow you run, celebrate the fact that you showed up and then came back. What do you have to lose?
Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.