5 Tips on Finding a Running Group

I’ve been meaning to share how I found my running group for quite a while and like I mentioned yesterday, it’s been a popular topic amongst my blogging friends lately.

I had just had my son (July 2013) and was so antsy to get back to running. I did my first race, a 5k, six weeks post partum and I was the happiest ever, ever.

A month after the race, October, my husband and I went to San Francisco and of course we ran while we there. We talked a lot about running and I told him I wanted to run a marathon. Like the following year. Like that March. He laughed and said I was crazy but that’s why he loved me and that I could totally do it. So at the airport, on my phone waiting to get on the plane back, I signed up for the Phoenix Marathon.

When we were home, I began looking up training plans and as I was searching I thought about how I wished I had more running friends. I’m a part of several great online running communities but I really wanted to meet up with other runners. I started thinking about how I could find a running group. So of course I started with Google.

Tip 1: Google

  • Search using key words like your state + running groups or your city + running groups
  • Also use the word “club” instead of group to see if anything different pops up
  • Try neighboring cities as well
  • Do a national search and just type in “Running Group”. Sometimes national groups have sub groups organized by state or region.

Tip 2: Facebook

  • Do a search using the same key words as Google
  • Some groups are closed but don’t let that stop you from joining and lurking for a while to get a feel of it

Tip 3: Visit your local running/shoe store

  • If you don’t know of any near you, Google first and then go (or call). Ask someone there if they know of any running groups in the area. It’s very likely that people who shop there are a part of one.

Tip 4: Go the mall

  • If you’re like me, I’ll take any excuse to go the mall lol! But seriously, go to the mall and visit athletic shops like Lululemon, Lucy, and Athleta. Often times, those places have their own meet-ups for running and workout sessions. My local Lululemon store meets on Thursday nights for a 3-5 mile run and Sunday morning for free yoga.

Tip 5: Swing by the gym

  • You don’t have to be a gym member, just visit one, or a few, close to you and ask the help desk if they know of any groups in the area that meet up to run. A lot of groups use gyms as meet up spots (mine does!).

Okay, I know this might sound like a lot of work, but trust me, get out of your comfort zone for a while and do it!! You will be so happy you did.

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Once you find a group (or groups), here are some other suggestions:

1. Give it a test run (ja! See what I did there?) If you find a group, or several, see what meet-ups work for you and go! Give it a shot–you really have nothing to lose. If you’re not digging the vibe, no sweat–you don’t have to go back. If you like the people you meet, then awesome!

1a. Take it easy on your first meet up. You don’t want to over exert yourself.

2. If you’re more comfortable joining a group’s Facebook page first, go for it and lurk around. I actually found two groups in my search that interested me so I joined both of their Facebook pages and lurked. I found out one had a membership fee and that kind of turned me off–it wasn’t much, but still. I also didn’t really like the vibe I got.

But the one I did eventually join I felt good about what I saw. The page was very active, which I liked. And I could tell that people were actually friends with each other. <—this was what actually kept me from meeting up. Which leads me to…

3. Don’t be afraid to jump in. I loved how the group all joked and talked with each other but I was afraid to go to a meet up because I felt like everyone had known each other for years and I would just be a newbie all by myself running alone. During one conversation, I decided to take the plunge. I commented. Once people saw a new face (me) everyone was SO nice! They asked me when I could come out for a run, how long I’d been running, and if I was training for anything. I was still pretty busy with my then really, really young son and couldn’t make it to a run until about 2 weeks after my comment introduction but when I did, everyone was super friendly and welcoming. Best decision ever, seriously.

4. You don’t have to be “fast” This is the number 1 thing I hear from people who are afraid about joining a group–that they’re not fast enough. What I love about running groups though is that more often than not, you’ll find one with people of ALL abilities. Everyone there has something in common despite one being faster than another–they love running!! Plus, when you run a race with a running group, no matter how fast a person is, you all cover the same distance. You’ve all experienced something together. It’s seriously an awesome feeling having people who know what you went through after you’ve finished a race.

I’ve had a blast with my running group. I ran my first marathon with them, crossed the Grand Canyon twice with them, and most recently, ran 16 miles at night in the middle of nowhere with them. I’ve done so many things that I’m pretty sure I would never have done by myself. I’m pretty excited for what’s in the future–I know it’s going to be great!

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–Are you in the market for a running group? Think you’ll join one?

–Are you part of a running group? How did you find them?

–What other tips would you give people looking for a group to run with?

Adrenaline 27k Night Trail Race {Recap}

I’m alive!!

Let me tell you something, that. was. brutal.

I’ll start at the beginning.

We didn’t do much on Saturday so I wasn’t exhausted by the day thankfully. I was planning on leaving my house early as I didn’t get my bib the two days prior so I was out the door by 5 p.m. Bib pick-up started at 6 and the race location was almost an hour away–yes, an hour!! Game time was 7:30 so I wanted to make sure I got there with plenty of time.

I drove the 45+ minutes to get to the middle of nowhere aka: McDowell Mountain Park. I had never been there before so I had no clue what to expect. I also hadn’t looked at the course map or elevation chart before (<–um yeah, that would’ve been smart).

Started with the 10 mile loop followed by the 10k loop (see mountain).

Started with the Long Loop 10 mile (bottom) followed by the Short Loop 10k (top–see mountain).

After glancing at the elevation chart(wha??!!), I picked up my bib and shirt (love!) and then headed over to my running group’s tent. There were about 40 of us that had signed up for the 10k and 27k. (Btw, there’s been much talk amongst my blogging friends on how cool running groups are. Mine is pretty amazing and will write soon on how I found them.)

AZTNT at Adrenaline :)

AZTNT at Adrenaline 🙂

As we all chatted, we said how nice it was that it had gotten below 100 degrees. It actually felt pretty good out lol!

Pre-race pic!

Pre-race pic!

Go time was right before sunset:

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And we were off!

I started the race having absolutely no idea what to expect. I had never done a trail race and I had never raced at night. I figured I’d just go and see how it went.

I began with three teammates who are pretty fast. I knew I wasn’t going to stay with them long at all but it was nice to be around familiar faces at the start. After the first mile beeped though, I knew I was going too fast: 9:48. With my personal experience trail running, my easy comfort zone is way slower than that so I immediately slowed down.

I was looking around taking the scenery in. It was pretty cool to be out there in the desert watching the sun set and hearing nature. I think I got caught up with all of it because what I was hoping wouldn’t happen happened a lot earlier than expected. I flew into the air and almost fell flat on my face! I had tripped over a rock, hard, but was able to catch my balance mid air to escape disaster. Then, not just a few minutes later, I slipped and tweaked my ankle! Luckily, it wasn’t anything serious–but this was barely mile 2!!

Wouldn't this distract you too?? Photo Cred: B. Swanson

Wouldn’t this distract you too??
Photo Cred: B. S (AZTNT)

I told myself to get it together; I still had 14 miles to go.

I slowed down considerably and was battling the up, down, up, down portion of the course. It finally settled into just up and I took my time as I climbed the hills.

A little after mile 5 was the first water station. I had heard from my running group that the stations were well stocked–as in, they had an assortment of candy, chips, watermelon, soda, water, gatorade. It was pretty cool! One of the volunteers even refilled my hydration pack for me!

I gobbled a watermelon slice, took a salt tablet, and got going.

Finally, I was at the downhill part of the first loop and it was nice because the trail was finally clear. No more jumping rocks 🙂 I settled in and cruised the next couple of miles. By this time, it was dark and my head lamp was on. It did a good job of lighting the path and it also helped that I had other runners around me. Like the guy in front running barefoot.

My watch beeped mile 8 and I was so glad to know that I was halfway done. I absolutely love trail running but it’s definitely a different type of running. A lot more concentration is involved–i.e. not tripping, twisting your ankle, getting lost–which i don’t mind but I learned that’s doubled when you’re trail running at night. I was already so exhausted!

We had to turn off the trail to start the second loop and this was SO confusing. I, along with several others, had missed it and had to turn back. We had to get on a trail that took us to the start line where we would get on a the 10k trail. It meant that for about a mile, those in front were running back and those still going were on the same trail. Not cool and this would be the only black spot I’d have on the race.

Plus, having to pass the start/finish line made me want to stop. Knowing I still had 6 miles left was tough. But, it was nice to hear the cheers from everyone.

The 10k loop was absolutely awful. From the very beginning you were climbing a mountain. The trail had gotten rocky again; I didn’t mind walking but I did wish I knew how long I had to the top– it seemed never ending. I started Lebronning (cramping) around mile 11 and I never fully recovered. My legs were so tight and I was fighting some serious pain.

It was around this time too that the crowd had really dissipated. I was alone for a long time with the exception of one girl who I’d pass and who’d catch up–we went like this for a while until I passed her and didn’t see her again.

It was very dark out. The moon provided some light but out there in the mountains it was difficult to navigate. Several times I had to stop and look around to make sure I was on the right path. I’d taken an extra hand flashlight (thank goodness) and that helped provide me with extra light to figure out where I was going.

Everything was hurting. My legs continued to cramp off and on and my feet hurt so bad. I was concentrating so hard on the trail but even then I found myself sailing forward again! I was able to catch myself for the second time and avoid any battle wounds.

I did a lot of jog and then walk, jog and then walk until I saw mile 15 and then I just told myself to try my hardest to keep running. Not seeing the end anywhere near was tough but when I was at halfway through the mile I finally heard life. I was close! I picked up it up (ja!! I was limping at this point) and tried to finish strong. With whatever strength I had, I lifted my arms up in celebration as I crossed the finish line 3 hours and 19 minutes later–I was finally done!

SO happy to be done! :)

SO happy! 🙂

This was a great race put on my awesome people. If you’re ever in Arizona, definitely check out Aravaipa Running. I had so much fun although I do think I was ambitious in attempting the 27k as my first trail race (at night). Two days later, I’m still really sore and with marathon training 10 days away, it was poor planning on my part.

But all in all, it was a great experience and something I can cross off my list–and I love doing that 🙂

–Have you tripped during a race?

–What race exhausted you the most?

 

 

Full Moon Friday Five!

I’m linking up again with the DC Trifecta girls–Mar, Cynthia, and Courtney (<–happy weeding weekend!!) for another Friday Five!

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 9.17.23 AMThis week—Random Edition. Who doesn’t love randomness?? 🙂

Here we go!

1. Happy Friday the 13th!!!!
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I’m totally not superstitious nor do I scare easily. I love horror books and films and think it’s fascinating how people think of things like that to write/film. Crazy, really.

I’m an English teacher and I know I’m supposed to love the classics, and I do, but I also like reading fun stuff (I know, horror? Fun?) One of my favorite authors is Jeffrey Deaver. He wrote the book turned-into-big-time-movie starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie called The Bone Collector. If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, do it! At least one of them 🙂 Last month, he was doing a book tour of the sequel to the aforementioned novel. I had been waiting forever for it to come out and was pumped that I’d be able to go to his signing. Except not. I was off crossing the Grand Canyon a couple of times and couldn’t make it that day.

So my husband went!!! He’s never read a single one of his books but he knew how much it meant to me and he got the book signed.

yay!

yay!

In celebration of today, my run club is doing a full moon fun run tonight 🙂

–Do you like horror/murder mystery books/movies?
–Will you be celebrating today?

2. World Cup!!! Another exciting thing happening today is Mexico is playing. I’ve been loosely following (really on Instagram) the team’s road to the cup. I’m a Mexico fan because I grew up right on the border of the United States and Mexico. Like right on the border. I cheer for the U.S. when they play and I cheer for Mexico when they play. When they’re against each other, well, it’s tough lol!

Mexico's coach is hilarious!

Mexico’s coach is hilarious!

–Did you see the bizarre opening ceremony??
–Will you be watching any soccer games?

3. Marathon Training Plan This weekend I’ll be whipping up a training plan for my October marathon. I’m so excited to do this! I don’t know why, but having that sheet telling me what to do makes me happy 🙂

I’ve been reading Run Less, Run Faster and I’m not sure if I want to follow the plan 100%. I’ve been liking a lot of what I’ve read but there are a few things that worry me–I plan on talking about this further in a later post.

I liked Hal’s plan that I used for my first marathon. I’ve been talking with a friend about Hanson’s Method. My run club coach provided me with a plan as well. I honestly think my plan will end up being a hodgepodge of several different methods, who knows! But I am sure that by Sunday, I will have a final product.

Do people still say 'ermagerd'? I'm so not cool.

Do people still say ‘ermagerd’? I’m so not cool.

–Do you use a plan to train for a race or do you wing it? (I’m not a winger–I stress out too much to wing! lol!)

4. 100 87 Days of Summer Thirteen days of no soda.

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It has been a super tough week with plenty of thoughts of caving. But, I kept strong and when the going got tough, I texted a few friends doing the Summer Challenge with me for support. It’s definitely helped not having any soda in the house too–my husband is on board with my quest to go sans soda and we’ve decided to both go without it.

It’s interesting because I’ve become super more conscious about what’s in everything I drink. Like I wanted Minute Maid Lemonade and when I read the label thought, wha??! This is really no different than the soda I was drinking! So I’ve been mostly sticking to water–H20 4 lyfe!!

–Do you check to see what it is you’re actually drinking? I never really did til now.

5. and OMG this ❤ ❤

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I double booked us on play dates yesterday, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and they had so much fun! My husband was out of town so I did my best to keep us busy and we seriously had the best day ever. (Plus, the Heat lost!)

I’ll be taking it easy today and tomorrow–I’ve got my first trail and first night race!

–How was your week?
–What are your weekend plans? Running, racing? (If you’ve got a race, good luck!!)

P.S.
Happy Father’s Day to the dads out there 🙂

❤ ,
helly