Running by yourself can be pretty lonely, especially when you get past 3 miles or so. “But I have nobody to run with!” you say. The good news is that even if you don’t have a running friend next door like I do, you can easily find people to run with. The organizations listed here are just a tiny sampling of what’s out there. Check out the following groups, and search online for more near you.
Road Runners Club of America
Founded in 1958, this large distance running organization offers regular group training runs and organized racing teams across the country. California is home to 99 Road Runners clubs, Texas boasts 59, and New York has 57, so chances are there’s one near you. However, if there isn’t one close to you, the organization will help you establish a Road Runners running club in your area.
Where: Worldwide, but based in Boston, MA
In 2011, two Boston dudes made a pact to exercise together throughout the cold month of November, and they started a Google Doc called “November Project” to track their workouts. It didn’t take long for the idea to become a bona fide movement, and it spread like wildfire. Now the November Project has more than 47 free “tribes” (clubs) across the U.S. and Canada, and in Serbia, Iceland, the UK and the Netherlands, too. In a way, the November Project is the quintessential prototype for the running club. It gets otherwise solo runners together to celebrate fitness, have some fun, and maybe even change their lives.
A Snail’s Pace
Where: Southern California
This group started in 1979 when Dave Reynolds opened a running store in Fountain Valley, CA. Since that time, the company has opened an additional 4 Southern California stores and holds regular race training sessions. Groups train together for 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons and full marathons. The organization uses a run/walk method to help increase your endurance (for example, when training for a full marathon, you would walk for one minute after every mile you run). A Snail’s Pace offers separate training sessions for strength and conditioning, 5K running and walking, 10K running, and half marathon running and marathon running. In addition, if you join a training group, you get discounts at their 5 Orange County, CA, stores, plus discounts on races.
Where: Los Angeles, CA
If you’re in the Los Angeles area and are interested in training for a run–even a 5K–check out the LA Leggers. The group is an affiliate of Road Runners of America (see above), and they started training runners and walkers in 1989. LA Leggers offers training schedules, pace groups and inspiration through its website.
San Francisco Road Runners Club
Where: San Francisco, CA
Billed as the largest running club in the city, the San Francisco Road Runners Club meets four times a week for runs, so you don’t have any excuse for not making one of these. They go out Saturday and Sunday mornings and Tuesday and Thursday nights on different terrain–a track at Kezar Stadium, at the Embarcadero and Golden Gate Park, and on trails in Marin, just to name a few venues. No matter what your pace is, you’ll find people in this group to run with.
Golden Gate Running Club
Where: San Francisco, CA
Offering track workouts and group runs for all levels, the Golden Gate Running Club is also a great social group that gets together for baseball games, happy hours and group dinners. Maybe it’s just me, but this group sounds like the perfect place to meet your soul mate.
Portland Running Company
Where: Portland, OR
The local running store organizes weekly free, fun group runs, as well as sponsoring its own team and hosting local races.
Where: New York, NY
These runners love tacos. Casual monthly “taco runs” in Brooklyn have transformed into a Taco Run Tour visiting Washington, DC, Los Angeles, CA, Baltimore, MD, New Orleans, LA, and San Francisco, CA. The NY-based group still meets Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings, and everyone is welcome. The group’s philosophy is to run “your fast,” which might not be as fast as your buddy or your neighbor, but that’s OK. The idea is that we’re all running our own paces, pushing ourselves as needed.
Austin Runners Club
Where: Austin, TX
This group was established in 1974, so if you’re in Austin, chances are you’ve seen one of the Austin Runners Club training groups cruise by. They have scheduled runs most days of the week.
We Run Big D
Where: Dallas, TX
This fun, free running club is all about getting out of the house. Their motto is “Just Show Up,” and their focus is fitness and wellness, however you can accomplish that. It’s a running group not just for runners. In fact, the co-leaders don’t even think of themselves primarily as runners. They are “crossfitters, weightlifters, rowers, couch surfers and more,” which is why the group is more of a “fitness tribe” than anything.
Team Run Flagstaff
Where: Flagstaff, AZ
This organization has an adult group and a separate Kids Run Flagstaff group for 5th through 12th graders. Open to all ages and abilities, they meet once a week (on Tuesday evenings), and they charge a modest monthly membership fee. If you’re new to running or have taken a long hiatus, they’ll ease you back into fitness with their 6-week run/walk program.
The Monster Milers
Where: Philadelphia, PA
Want to help a shelter dog get some much-needed exercise while you log your miles? The nonprofit Monster Milers organization wants to help you do just that. The group’s main mission is to connect volunteer runners with adoptable dogs or “making shelter dogs smile, one mile at a time.” How sweet is that? You can burn some calories, help a shelter dog stay fit and happy, and maybe even help Fido get adopted to a forever home. (Maybe your home! But that’s not the point–the point is getting the pups some physical activity and socialization.) It’s a definite win-win: You bring joy to some dogs and spend quality time with like-minded runners.
Potomac River Running Company
Where: Washington, DC
As with the majority of running clubs, nobody is “too slow” for the Potomac River Running Company. The family-owned Potomac River Running Store, with eight locations, is home to the club, which offers numerous training programs–for beginning runners to marathoners. Anyone training for their first marathon knows how helpful coaching can be during the process. For encouragement, helping you achieve your goals, and maybe even pushing you a little outside your comfort zone, Potomac River Running Company has got your back.
Boulder Trail Runners
Where: Boulder, CO
This running group’s motto is “Live to run, run to live,” so you know they love the sport. Offering training, coaching and opportunities to make lots of like-minded friends, Boulder Trail Runners is for “front runners” and “back of the packers” alike. Group runs and individualized training plans are available.
Charlotte Running Club
Where: Charlotte, NC
Started in 2009 by co-founders Aaron Linz (“I just wanted to run with somebody”), Caitlin Chrisman and Jay Holder, Charlotte Running Club has become one of the staple clubs in the region. In addition to running and workouts, the group also has a running book club, where members who love to run and read (but not at the same time!) get together to discuss a chosen text.
Chicago Area Runners Association
Where: Chicago, IL
This nonprofit organization that has served the Chicago area since 1978 boasts charity team training, youth running programs, trail clean-ups, and good old-fashioned social runs, among many other benefits. A helpful injury hotline and volunteer opportunities are also part of the package, as well as discounted entry fees for more than 100 local races
Columbus Running Company
Where: Columbus, OH
A “locally owned running company,” CRC has four storefront locations across central Ohio in Columbus, Dublin, Pickerington and Westerville. They also offer an online store (gear), training programs and races. There are specialized training programs for youth, charity runs, beginner walkers and runners, half-marathon and marathon runs, cross-country camps and groups for elite runners.
Ann Arbor Track Club
Where: Ann Arbor, MI
For casual to committed runners, the Ann Arbor Track Club meets from November through March on Tuesday evenings at the University of Michigan indoor track, and April through October at the U of M outdoor track. The third Sunday of each month, they meet at various locations for runs. The club is 35 miles from Detroit and has been meeting since 1968.
Seattle Running Club
Where: Seattle, WA
If a little rain doesn’t deter you from putting in a 10-miler on a Saturday, and you love trail runs, the Seattle Running Club is for you. If you’re not a trail running fan, take heart: Runs also take place on streets, roads, tracks and cross-country courses. Like most organizations, they embrace beginners and elite runners, and all skill levels in between. The club has been in existence since 2003.
Don’t see your favorite running club? Add it to the comments below!