Happy National Running Day! Did you run today? I think this is the first year that I’ve ever made it out for a run on NRD. Well, the first year since learning of its existence, that is. NRD happened to coincide with our weekly LUNAChix run so I had a chance to enjoy a fun, social run with friends.
I’ve spent the majority of my years as a runner logging miles on my own. I’ve trained for three marathons by myself, and it’s pretty rare that I run with a partner or a group. For a long time, the idea of running with others kind of stressed me out. I couldn’t get past the idea that I would be too slow and hold people up, or less fit than everyone else there, or too boring to join in the conversation, or inadequate in some other way. But lately I’ve been able to get through these anxieties and I’ve really been enjoying running in the company of others.
I’ve written about joining a running group before, and it seems like every time I mention it people have nothing but positive things to say. Running with a group has helped them get faster, stay motivated, maintain a consistent schedule, and make new friends. It seems like joining a running group is pretty unequivocally good, and now that I’ve managed to move past my insecurities about them, I’m feeling kind of excited about the possibility of joining one. The problem is that here in New York, it’s almost as though you can’t run a mile without tripping over at least three running groups. So how do I know which one is the right one? I think the only way to figure out which one is for me is by giving them a try. Since I can’t try them all (that would probably take months, possibly a year or two), I’ve selected a few based on various factors. Here’s a brief list of the ones I’m hoping to try:
- The Van Cortlandt Track Club: I know a couple people in this club and apparently they really do have runners of all levels and speeds (all clubs claim to, but they’re not always telling the truth). They’re supposed to be a nice group, and big. They host a summer cross-country series, have a couple group runs during the week (including a speed workout), and host other races as well. The downside is that they’re in the Bronx which would make getting to and from the group runs a not insignificant time investment. At the same time, it would be nice to run somewhere other than Central Park.
- The Inwood Hill Runners: Another group that doesn’t run in Central Park, this one is a bit closer than the VCTC. They’ve also got a few weekly runs, one of which is a speed workout. They welcome all paces and abilities, but I’ve heard they’re a bit smaller which could make it less likely that I would be able to run with someone who is in my pace range.
- The Dashing Whippets: Well for one thing they have a cute name. I’ve also heard from more than one person that they’re very welcoming and a very enjoyable group to run with. They have three weekly runs (including a speed workout), they meet in a location that’s not too far from me, and although they charge yearly dues they offer runners the opportunity to try the group out for free for two months before committing.
- The Reservoir Dogs: Another group that meets in a place that’s pretty accessible to me. These guys have four weekly runs to choose from, and claim to support runners of all levels and paces. Their goal is to help members meet their goals, and I like the fact that they state that on their webpage (not all groups do). They’ve also got a cool name (a reference to the movie as well as the Central Park reservoir, a popular running spot), but they intimidate for reasons I can’t put my finger on.
- The New York Flyers: A big group. I see them at races and on runs in Central Park all the time. If you’re part of this group, you will always have someone cheering for you at a race. They have social events, volunteering opportunities, and several runs each week. They also list the paces that the runs will probably be on their website, which is helpful. I also like the fact that they offer a special run for people considering joining the group each month (the run for June is on the 12th, so I should probably plan to go).
That’s a lot of groups to choose from, but I think I’m up to the task (nothing like confidence)! I’ll post updates with the progress I’m making (if any) in selecting a group.