“A group of people having a particular characteristic in common”
I was blown away at my recent 100th parkrun at Bedfont Lakes. Surrounded by friends made through the running community, it felt a million miles from the image of running being solitary exercise.
Joining a club or group event like parkrun may seem daunting, or even unnecessary. After all, running is a spontaneous sport you can pursue whenever it suits. In my experience however, my running community is what makes it worthwhile. I have no doubt that it gave me the courage to take on a half marathon recently – supported by training tips, advice and encouragement. Here are 10 reasons why I love my fellow runners…
1. They’re fun
As well as running, we’re partial to a bit of a social, an excuse to wear fancy dress, bring cakes, run a route in reverse, have a picnic, BBQ, go on tour, hold unofficial awards ceremonies, celebrate a birthday, anniversary, Christmas, summer, or simply the fact we’ve all just been for a run and deserve a trip to the cafe or pub. The invite is usually extended to partners, families and four legged friends too (and we don’t always talk about running).
2. They’re interested
Who are the best people with whom to exchange personal run reports and chit chat? Your running buddies, on and offline. If you think you’re boring your friends and family with Facebook posts of your latest activity, turn to your Strava followers. They will positively embrace cross-examining your pace, splits, intervals, elevation and distance.
3. They advise
Many runners in the community are experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to exercising effectively and safely, and they’re keen to share tips, mentor you through a training plan, or make suggestions to help with any issues you have.
4. They know useful stuff
Like… local/regional/international events, gadget reviews, discount codes, freebies, kit and accessory suppliers, types of trainer, places to run, places to avoid, hilly runs, flat runs, where to grab a coffee, course PBs, how to volunteer, travel tips, jargon busting, recommended physios, nutrition, where you get the best medals…the list goes on. Runners live and work very varied lifestyles, so are often useful regarding non-running needs too!
5. They’re motivating
On a dark night, or early weekend morning, knowing there’s a group of runners meeting up is motivating – keeping you focused, more likely to get out the door, stick to a pace and complete the distance (not to mention the opportunity for pre- and post-run chat).
6. They’re inspiring
Everyone has a personal running journey. When you meet people who have tackled extreme conditions, completed marathons, triathlons, defied the odds or simply progressed through determination and dedication (and survived), suddenly the next step doesn’t seem so daunting.
7. They empathise
Other runners understand the issues that can affect your performance such as injuries, niggles, hangovers, illness, clashing commitments (kids, work), demotivation, and offer a sympathetic ear, help, advice or cake.
8. They push you
Not literally but they encourage you to take on new challenges and fuel your self-belief. If in any doubt, you’ll be coaxed, coerced or collared into the next run, and be totally glad you did.
9. They’re the team spirit
Running buddies spectate, cheer, take photos, share the driving, look after your bag, pace, mentor, lend you things, congratulate, share in your success and generally look out for you. They’re also there in the online world so you feel like there’s a team behind you even without a physical presence. Being immersed with so many runners means it won’t be long before you’re recruited for team events too.
10. They pass on the running bug!
Once you’ve got the bug, you’re hooked and even after the toughest run come back for more. At the end of the day, we all share a passion, embrace the challenges and celebrate the best times, together.