How To Build Your Own Running Crew
The dos and don’ts of gathering – and then running with – your new group of friends. – By Jessica Migala
You don’t need to be part of an elite club to reap the benefits of long efforts with others. Many communities already have a running group that you can join. If yours doesn’t, start one of your own.
When you do, keep these guidelines in mind.
Do: Find enough friends.
If you’re assembling a group, enlist at least three running buddies, says Kelly Maurer, director of training for Charm City Run in Baltimore – that way, you’ll have at least one person to run with if the snooze button or a sick kid sidelines part of your group. Or you can join an existing run in your area to ensure you’re never flying solo. “Being in the company of fellow runners makes it easier to manage the inevitable mental and physical fatigue that accompanies a long run,” says Matthew Forsman, a coach in San Francisco. Find a group through a local running club or store, or via Meetup or Facebook.
Do: Rotate leadership.
Forsman suggests naming two or three “captains” who trade off planning and organising duties from one week to the next. The captain creates the route and leads the crew through it. (Things to keep in mind, says Forsman: safety for a group of pedestrians, ease of navigation, restrooms along the way, and course difficulty.) If the route lacks water fountains, the captain may also drop coolers with water and sports drink on the course, or let the group know that they should bring their own fluids. He or she is also in charge of toting a fully charged cell phone, in case of emergency.
Do: Designate when.
If you’re organising a group, pick a day and time and stick to it (e.g., Saturday at 7 a.m.) to eliminate confusion from the get-go: “Everyone can put it on their schedule and prioritise it like any other appointment,” says Maurer. If members of the group live on opposite sides of town, either choose a mutually agreed upon place in the middle as the meet-up spot or alternate starting points every other week.
Don’t: Change your pace.
Find running buddies whose pace is close to yours or you’ll increase your injury risk. You’ll know the pace is too slow if it throws off your natural gait, Maurer says. To ensure you’re not running too fast, you should be able to carry on a conversation. (Runners with time goals may work race-pace kays into some long runs, and you may not be able to speak easily during those, Forsman says.)
Don’t: Force multiple stops.
The night before or the morning of a group run is not a good time to push the boundaries of what agrees with you, says Maurer. If you have go-to safe meals, choose those. If you don’t, avoid spicy foods or anything high in fat or fibre – common culprits of tummy troubles. Your group will likely make some rest stops, but do your part to prevent the need for frequent, urgent ones.
Don’t: Wear headphones.
The point of running with friends is to talk to them. And if you’re with a group of strangers, it’s still worth chatting: “Runners learn from other runners,” Maurer says. You have a common interest, so ask what races your companions are training for, their favorite places to run locally, and so on – you might discover a new event or route. In any case, carrying on a conversation helps the kays pass more quickly.