Staff Blog: Connecting With The Running Community

The organic mingling of runners at a running shop run can be subtly contagious. Photo: Brian Metzler

If you find a way to engage in the community of running, chances are you’ll be a runner for life.

One of the best aspects about running is that it has few barriers to entry. Put on a pair of running shoes, T-shirt and shorts and, ‪voilà, you’re more or less a runner.

But unless you’re part of a team or have consistent training partners, it’s not always easy to engage with the running community—that intangible but very powerful connection between runners with shared values, collective commitment and contagious inspiration. Engaging with that community, even at the smallest level, is one of the keys to developing self-perpetuating motivation for the rest of a marathon training program and for the rest of your life.

Sure, you can buy running shoes, read running magazines, sign up for races and even go to pre-race seminars and talks, but even those are individual acts that lack connectivity. Joining a training group or running club (or developing one on your own) is a great way experience the community of running, but more or less requires that you’re training for a race and are in the same phase of your training as the other runners in the group.

The easiest and best way to connect to the contagious buzz of the running community is to venture down to your local running shop. On weekday nights and weekend mornings, random runners of all ability and experience levels gather for casual group runs at shops across the country. Depending on the shop, the weather and where you live, it could be a dozen or so runners or as many as several hundred. In most cases, the more the merrier. (Yes, many shops create sales or offer demos at weekly runs, but those things all wind up being sideshows to the organic interconnection between runners that happens before, during and after the run.)

Some runners are there just to get a run in. Some are there to learn. Some are there because they don’t like running alone. Some are there because a friend convinced them to come along. Some are there to hammer six miles with their super-fit and competitive friends and rivals who they know will show up, too. There will always be fast runners and slower runners, new runners who are training for their first race and lifelong runners who have been running since the original running boom of the 1970s.

At a local group run that’s not organized by ability or all-out pace, you’ll find yourself in special setting, full of motivation and, most likely, free from intimidation. You’ll meet new people who, no matter how fast or experienced, are there because they enjoy running. You’ll also like connect with acquaintances—sometimes neighbors, co-workers and friends of friends—you might never have known to be runners.

Unknowingly and in unscripted fashion, all are spreading an inspiring vibe.

If you find a way to engage in the community of running, chances are you’ll be a runner for life.

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