What if I slow them down? And, I can’t keep up?
What if I have to stop? And, I don’t know where I am going?
These are some, not all, of the nervous thoughts that cycled through my head before I joined a group run for the first time. But, somehow I worked up the courage to meet a group and I loved every mile, every minute. If you, too, are at all nervous, here is some advice on joining a group run:
1. Going the very first time is the absolute hardest part. Take a leap of faith. This is a group run. The runners WANT more people to come. The more the merrier. You will never feel more welcome than that very first day!
2. Arrive on time, or a few minutes early if possible. I know everyone in my group has places they need to be. I don’t want to be the one holding everyone up. If I am going to be late, I make sure to let someone know. The group can warm up without me and pick me up at the time I expect to arrive.
3. Some days are better running days than others. If someone is having an off day, we stick with them and help them get through it. Helping them finish often feels better than pushing my own pace for a faster run. Likely someone else in the group may be feeling the need to slow down so it’s never a bad idea to suggest a slower pace. Or, some days I have a bad day and it feels like I just need to run on my own. I simply encourage the group to move along. I will either catch up or see them at the end.
4. I love the encouragement and camaraderie that naturally comes with running with a group. I am grateful for this and will always boost my peers up. This is not a place for competition among friends or jealousy of your peers. This is a positive space for all runners regardless of their goals and achievements.
5. I bring enough for everyone. If I need a tissue for my nose on a run, likely someone else will, too. I like to have a Gu or some sort of fuel after a certain number of miles or minutes on my run. Maybe one of my friends needs a boost then, too– I bring extras! And, I always have a few water bottles in my car.
6. Remember…most people just don’t care if things get slightly interrupted or go a different course. If your friend needs to stop for an extra drink of water, not a problem at all. Maybe it’s a good time for you to stretch out your aching muscles. On the flip side, it is OK for you to do the same. Your runner friends understand and will be be happy to wait. Things come up! We can’t control it all. But we do have each other.
In closing, please take in the following boost of encouragement from group runner, Joanna Reuland:
“Runners have an unspoken bond that’s unmatched in any other sport. We’re trusting of complete strangers. In every other group I’ve joined in my life, trust is earned gradually—it has to be proven. With most runners I’ve met, trust is assumed. We support each other immediately and without hesitation. More than any other group, my running friends are fiercely loyal. I don’t know why ‘good people run… ,’ but I have a guess. We build relationships outside in nature, forcing us to leave the stress, anxiety, and societal pressures behind for just an hour or so. We leave the drama at work, family stress, and we just focus on the run. All we need to have a good time is a pair of shoes.”
Joanna gets it absolutely right!
By Hilary Biggs, Pacers Princeton