How to Start a Running Group: Advice for Establishing a Successful Running Group

Fall is the perfect time to kick off a running group in your city – the temperature gets mild, most people come back from vacations, and the best reason of all, it’s coming up on peak race season for runner – you can help them with their training! Maybe some people are interested in spending time with friends or making new friends, but most of them will want to train for a race or just do a great workout. The people in your city will definitely appreciate your efforts of establishing a running group

Most runners think about running as a solitary sport. Indeed, one of the best aspects of running is that is quite a simple sport. At first, you don’t need too much to get started with doing a few workouts every week. You can run anywhere, anytime, anyplace, with some exceptions. However, running can definitely be a social sport. Here at SportPartner we value relationships and connecting people to do sports together is our mission. Let’s see some reasons why running with a group or club can be beneficial for you.

  1. You get to make new friends and meet new people.
  2. You stay motivated with your training and exercise.
  3. You learn new things & secrets about running from others.
  4. You get to share your knowledge of running with the other runners in the group.
  5. You are constantly challenged to run faster and farther.

While there is a vast network of running groups/clubs in the UK, and most other countries, there might not be one in your area. Or maybe there’s a road running club and you want to establish a trail running club.

Trail runners going uphill.

Here are some tips on how to start a running group

1. Ask your friends to help.

All it takes is a few committed people to make it a group. Round up 2-3 friends or fellow runners and your group has been established.

2. The Name Game.

This goes without saying, but you’ll need a name for your group/club. Make it general or specific – it all depends on you. It could be “London Trail Runners” or just “Manchester Women’s Running Club”. Go for a more generic name if you’re planning to establish a large group.

3. The Meeting Place.

You’ll need a place where you can announce the meeting place for the group’s runs. The easiest way to accomplish this is to create a Facebook group/page. This will provide a central place for communication for the group members. You’ll be able to post scheduled runs and pictures very quickly. Aim for something really serious and large with a website. And now we get to the next thing.

4. Search Yourself

People will soon start searching for your running group. A website will make it MUCH easier for you to be found via search engines. Put key phrases on your public page – or even on Facebook – “all runners are welcome”, “London Running Club”, and so on.

Do some test search to see if your group comes up in the results. Have people link to it for better results. Ask group members to put links on their blogs or web pages.

 A group of road runners in the morning.

More advice...

5. Run!

Start by scheduling a run on weekends of 3-5 miles in length. Do you want to take this to a new level? Schedule two runs: a short one for all levels and a long run. But do not forget: you will want the runs on Saturday or Sunday because that is when most people are free. My running club has over 40 people now and I found that Saturdays is the most popular day for people to show up. Start varying the runs when the club is getting larger.

6. The Personal Touch

New members need special attention. Most people can get nervous easily when coming for the first time to a group run. Try to run the distance with them. If you’re faster, just slow down and chat with them. The secret to having runners come back week after week is to connect with them - offer them a special touch. Now there’s the opposite – the fast runners. You don’t want them to get bored, so just pair them with someone fast. Same goes for the runner who always finishes last. Create a bond and make people feel good – after all, they are not coming to run by themselves.

7. Plan to attend local races together.

For anyone interested, get some t-shirts printed and run a race with your community’s logo. Attending races together really builds motivation and offers participants an extra goal to reach.

8. Have a monthly mileage contest!

Additionally, encourage consistent acitivity withing the group by having a mileage contest. All group members have to keep track of how many miles they run per week/month. You can use this to build motivation for the race, or you can offer a fun prize for the winner. Choose wisely!

9. Search for Funding.

As your running group grows you’ll need cash to cover certain expenses. You might want to establish a group into a non-profit organization which also has a cost associated. There are plenty of reasons why you might need resources like this once you group grows – you might want to buy equipment for members, organize a race or just offer some perks to the runners. Indeed, some members will leave once you start charging for a membership – but you’ll have a more solid core group among the members who stay and pay. The secret at this point is to find a reasonable price – don’t get greedy. After deciding upon a fee, invite new people to run with you. If they like it, invite them into your private club.

You WILL definitely by appreciated for establishing a running group. Plenty of runners would prefer companionship during their runs but do not know where to look or how to start their own running group. What are you waiting for? Round up some friends and start your running group!

A running group performing a weekly training.

Other tips for establishing a succesful running club

  • Successful running club host consistent weekly runs.
  • Successful running groups also schedule runs at times that people actually run.
  • Successful running groups schedule runs, especially races, as far in advance as possible.
  • Successful running groups have multiple leaders. It’s almost impossible for one person to handle all aspects of a running club/group: promoting the group, searching for locations, scheduling runs.
  • Successful running clubs really promote their group. People need to know that the club exists in order to join.
  • Successful running clubs  keep runner safety in mind. Remind members to follow safe running practices.
  • Successful clubs do more than just run. They host social events, meet-and-greets, or pre-pasta parties.
 Runner at sunset. Read more about how to establish a running group here!

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