Running at its core is a solitary sport. It’s you putting one foot in front of the other, day in and day out, to be better than you were the day before. We’ve got a secret for you, though: You don’t have to do it all alone.
Enter the running crew — a group of local runners all part of a not-so-exclusive club who work out and socialize around the sport. With members of all backgrounds, paces and goals, running groups offer a chance to learn from, and bond with, other people in your community who share your passion.
WHY YOU SHOULD JOIN RUN CREW
Run crews are a great place for newbies — whether to the sport, the city or both — to find their squad. When it comes to navigating your way through running in your area, they’ll have dozens of routes and insider tips on local tracks to get acquainted with.
Of course, with that intimate knowledge of the city comes a passion for the culture, giving you the chance to join a dedicated group of runners who are likely to become your friends. Ashlee Lawson, District Running Collective captain and run leader, explains, “Run crew is about support. How can we help you achieve your goals? You’re never left behind. And we always try to make it fun.”
“There’s a good accountability factor,” says Lawson. “I’m a firm believer in collective work. When you are with people who push you to work harder, be stronger, get faster, you rise to the challenge. It helps to be around people with similar goals.”
“The sense of community is a big draw to joining a running club,” shares Stephen Haas, executive director of Team Run Flagstaff in Arizona. “Having like-minded people to associate with and become friends with is a big draw.”
Team Run Flagstaff is made up of runners from all ability levels who come together to run, cross-train and socialize. As is the case with many run clubs, it offers community workouts for members, while at the same time manages an elite team of pros to help them train and compete at high-level races. This allows average runners in the community to interact with — and see the growth and development of — world-class athletes in an everyday training setting.
Membership fees vary by crew and can be free, but they often range from $50–$150 per year, which includes access to coached workouts, strength-training and social gatherings. Local race and running store discounts are often offered, as well. If you’re looking for an affordable way to train for an upcoming race, these discounts paired with access to weekly workouts led by an experienced coach in a supportive, collaborative environment, may be just what you need to complete your first half-marathon or set a new marathon PR.
READ MORE > WHY SOLO RUNNERS SHOULD CONSIDER A RUNNING GROUP
FINDING YOUR CREW
Good news for those living in larger cities: There are often multiple running crews so you can find your perfect fit. It is a good idea to try a few different group workouts with each club in your area so you can see which runners — and coaches — best serve your needs and personality.
Lawson discovered DRC on Instagram when she first moved to Washington, D.C. She notes that crews continue to grow in a grassroots way without fliers or ads, but by catching people’s attention when running through neighborhoods, or as referrals from other run crews and through social media. She adds, “word of mouth is the biggest piece of it.”
“Local running stores are a great place to start,” adds Haas. “You can usually find people with their hand in the local running community there who will have a knowledge of the clubs in the area.”
A quick internet search usually pulls up options, too. Search carefully, however, and make note of clubs that charge a flat membership fee versus training groups, where you often pay hundreds per race season to train with a group for a particular race. Running crews are a much more consistent option and have workouts year-round, which are not geared toward a specific race. This makes the community and bonds between training partners much stronger.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN