For many who started running during the pandemic-related surge in popularity, breaking out of isolation to run a few miles with friends was the connection they needed then – and are still looking for now.
Come in, run groups. Clubs, crews, and virtual groups are just about everywhere, making it easier than ever to find a group of people to race with. On Strava alone, the total number of club members increased by 37% in 2021 and more than 189,000 clubs were created on the platform last year.
So what attracts people to running groups? There are a bunch of reasons, including a sense of belonging, community, compassion, responsibility, friendship, coaching, and more. And the research only reinforces what many have already figured out for themselves: running in a group can improve your performance and can also be good for your mental health. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Osteopathic Medicine found that regular participation in group exercise significantly reduced feelings of stress.
The Road Runners Club of America has a database of approximately 1,500 member organizations, and countless other clubs and crews exist in cities and virtually on social media platforms as well. And there’s a club for almost every goal. For example, you might be looking for a beginner’s club that offers coaching and training plans, or a club that uses running as a platform for social justice or to advocate for certain causes. Maybe you want a more advanced band that performs faster beats in track workouts. Or maybe you’re just looking for a fun running club that puts more emphasis on its post-race burger or brunch outings than on its miles.
And if you can’t find a group that exactly suits your needs, well, you can always create your own. That’s what Verna Volker did in 2018, as she tells SELF. She couldn’t find a community that included other Indigenous women, and she felt their stories weren’t tapping into the world of running. So she founded Native Women Running on Instagram, which now has 28,500 followers and whose members come together at races like the Boston Marathon (“Everyone is invited,” Volker says, adding that the group welcomes anyone interested. to follow or join its events).
“It’s become something that has grown from a tiny little Instagram account into an organization that I’m learning to lead,” Volker says. “I often hear people say that this is a movement that we created.
Whether you want to join a local club in person or connect online with a group of new, like-minded friends, running is definitely enhanced by participating in the community. Read on for a sampling of 11 running organizations helping members benefit from their training and get the most out of their experience.
Native Women Running’s mission is to “build and nurture a community that showcases and encourages Native women runners on and off the reservation.” Volker launched the group on Instagram, where she showcases the stories of Indigenous women around the world. Now it facilitates activities beyond the grid. Members run races like the Boston Marathon under the Native Women Running banner, and the organization has also created a virtual event that raises awareness and funds for murdered and missing Native women.