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When I first started running, all of my miles were logged solo on a treadmill at the gym. I enjoyed being able to go at my own beginner pace, but I had so many questions! It wasn’t until I found a running group that I really started to find my groove in the sport. Of course I clicked better with some members of the group than others, but having people to ask for help or make the miles pass more quickly was a lifesaver, especially in the first few months with the sport.
If you are new to the sport and looking for a running tribe but don’t know where to begin, here are a few ideas to get you started.
Search Social Media
Meetup and similar websites aren’t the only way to use the internet to find fellow runners. Getting a little creative with social media is a great way to build connections with people who share your same interests. Thanks to hashtags, you can search for just about any keyword and find others who are out there doing what you love. Try searching for your city and runners (for me, the search would be #AustinRunners) or running in your city (#RunningInAustin) as a start and see who pops up. Give a follow, introduce yourself and make a connection! If you notice they have photos running on one of your favorite routes, even better! Social networks geared toward an active lifestyle are great, too, such as Strava and MapMyRun, where you can even find and share running routes with people in your area.
Look In Your Neighborhood
Sometimes the best place to look is right where you live! If you have a local community center or recreation center, starting a search in your neighborhood may be even easier than you’d think. If there isn’t a group that is organized through your community, put out a call in your neighborhood newsletter—or on an app such as Nextdoor—to see if anyone is interested in meeting at the local park once or twice a week for a short run.
Ask Your Coworkers
Seeing each other in your business casual dress code, you may not know the woman a few cubicles down just started to run. Send out an e-mail to your department or post a note in the common area to see if anyone would like to get in a short workout over lunch. Have to chat with a fellow runner about an upcoming project? Suggest you hold the meeting while on a jog! Getting your blood flowing may get your creative juices flowing, too, and you may just find a new training partner. Team bonding at its finest.
Head To Your Local Running Store
One of the easiest ways to find a running group is to head to your local specialty running store. Not only will they help you with the basics, like getting fit for the right pair of shoes, they often offer training groups so you can find others at your level and have access to a coach at the same time. Though these groups often cost money, many stores will also have social runs and other free events—such as running scavenger hunts—where you can go meet people in the groups to see if you think it would be worth the investment before you decide to officially join.
When All Else Fails, Start Your Own
If you feel like you’ve exhausted all of your options, don’t be afraid to start a group of your own! If you’ve noticed a fellow runner on the treadmill every time you’re at the gym, let them know you plan to take your run outside next time and see if they’d like to join. Check in with your book group to see if any of them are looking to get more active. Suggest to your usual brunch group that you would like to run to the restaurant next time and offer to buy the first round of mimosas for those who join! Get creative and you may just help others fall in love with the sport, too.