serious running: trail running, races, shoe reviews

Benefits of Running in a Group or Running Club

posted by Chris Barber

I’ve recently found myself with more time at night this summer so I decided to check out some local running clubs.  I found out that I could attend a different running club within 3 miles of my house every weeknight!  This week I attended 4 different running club events and met some really interesting people at each of them.  There was the guy with a plaque by his table at the restaurant where the running club meets signifying his 17 years of attendance.  That’s dedication.  There was the Div-III University track coach telling stories about elite runners’ personalities.  I met a writer who had recently published a popular book about Eagle Scouts, which I am one, along with my two brothers and father, called Spirit of Adventure.  I met the country club physical therapist who told me not to go to the physical therapists for my knee injury because I could do the exercises on my own without paying for it.  I even met a running shoe store employee who said the best thing for runners is to just run and stop worrying about the exact type of running shoes they wear.  All very interesting people and I definitely learned a lot from all the runners I met.  I really enjoyed myself and plan to continue to attend these social running clubs for the rest of the summer.  Other than the fact that I’m doing it, here are some other reasons to do some social running and attend your local running club runs:


Safer: Most of our routes were on city side streets.  With my recent knee issues I try to run on asphalt as much as possible which was easy to do when running in a group.  Cars seem to slow down and give you the right away, making running in a group much safer.  Plus you get an excuse to why you aren’t running on the sidewalk.  We have too large of a group!

Conversation Substance: As you can see from my intro paragraph I really enjoyed the conversations I had during and post group runs.  Runners all have a pretty universal personality that usually involves being awesome at all aspects of life which makes for some interesting conversations.  I have found that conversations at bars and other social events are usually pretty dumb and lack substance.  Think recapping a television show or movie.  So converse with some runners if you are looking for conversations with more substance.

Increases Motivation: It’s like the Army, you do something you may not want to do if you think other people are counting on you.  How many of the men and women in the Armed Forces do you think care about securing Iraq?  They’re there fighting for their buddies, because their buddies are counting on them.  A running club works the same way.  You know other runners are counting on you to be there, to help them, push them, and socialize.  You don’t want to let them down do you?  No, you’re a runner.

Improved Performance: I always run faster when running with someone else, but not because I am competing with them.  I usually allow the other person to set the pace, always staying a half-step back.  But people just run faster when they are running with others.  I’m not sure why, but it works.

Expand Your Social Circle: See first paragraph.  I love meeting interesting people who are different than me but share some similar interest.  Running club attendees are a perfect fit!

New Running Routes: Even though the clubs started in my area, I ran some new routes that I had never run before.  I had run in these areas before, but hadn’t taken specific back streets that make up the running clubs’ named routes.  I got to see my local neighborhoods in a more intimate setting.  I also saw 3 houses I considered buying a year ago in a neighborhood close to where I eventually bought and all of those houses were still for sale.  Glad I made the right choice…I think.

Seems Quicker: The time running seems to go quicker when you are socializing.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to think when I run but sometimes you just need to socialize and run, not worrying about anything else.

You don’t necessarily have to join a running club to enjoy social running but it does make it easier.  At the very least, grab a friend and go for a run.  It’s a great way to socialize, keep you motivated, and expand your running prowess.  You’ll be more serious about your running!



  1. Amy Reinink says:

    I TOTALLY agree. I got over my fear of running with others earlier this year, and joined our local “fun run” group. It’s low-key and noncompetitive, but I’ve had my best-ever running workouts with this group — and have improved my race times as a result. Plus, running’s easier when you know you’re going out for margaritas after!

  2. Chris Barber says:

    Margaritas after a group run sound nice but I prefer beer as a carb replacement.

  3. [...] thrive on support from other runners.  Join a running group and enjoy the benefits of a group of like minded individuals coming together for one goal; to run [...]

  4. AT says:

    the runners at our local club definitely got me motivated to train and ready for the Peachtree – unfortunately a nasty elbow from a Kenyan knocked me off pace and kept me out of the winner’s circle…and the guy flew past me with winged feet in teh homestretch. Who is that man? Next year…

  5. Chris Barber says:

    Probably one of the faithful. You can look that serious too: Just don’t get elbowed out of the winner’s circle while wearing the shirt. Thanks.