5 Tips to Make Your Running More Social
Contributed by Erin Garvey, a 2017 Ambassador for The San Francisco Marathon
Running is an incredibly adaptable and diverse activity, and I think these qualities are what make it so appealing to so many people. You can choose to run very short and very fast sprints around your community center track; you can choose to “go long” through the hills, valleys, and mountains outside; or you could simply meander around your neighborhood or knock out some time on a treadmill. You could run in the middle of the day, the middle of the night, early morning, early evening; you could go fast, slow, something in between, run-some-and-then-walk-some … and the list goes on. There are so many ways that you can run that really, you needn’t ever get bored with this little hobby of yours.
Except that, realistically speaking, there probably will come a time when you get bored running. It happens to everyone, even the runners who have been doing this stuff for longer than you’ve been alive.
When you’ve committed yourself to completing a race, like any of those in The San Francisco Marathon’s weekend of events (the 5K, 1st Half Marathon, 2nd Half Marathon, Full Marathon, or the 52.4 mile Ultramarathon), simply not running isn’t really an option (unless, of course, you’re sick or injured). When you get hit with a case of the running doldrums, you will have to step it up a notch to ensure that you don’t give in to your wavering motivation.
I’ve been running for a long time now, and my tried-and-true method for beating the periodic boredom that comes with the endurance training territory is simple: make it social.
Remember everything that we talked about earlier, about how running is so awesome because it’s so versatile and adaptable, how you could do it basically any where and at any time you like? Well, another aspect of running’s beauty is that it’s an activity you can do by yourself or with others. It can be a “team” activity, if you’d like it to be, or it can be something that’s just for you and you alone.
My experiences have taught me that when my motivation is beginning to wane, the best thing I can do is to make my running social. Doing so typically helps to reinvigorate my training, and as a bonus, I get to spend many miles with friends and connect with others, both near and far, to whom I feel bonded over our appreciation and commitment to our training.
In other words, I can often rely on the social aspects of running to help get me through a funk, and I think many others can say the same.
Below, I’ll describe some quick and easy ways to make your running more social as you’re training for any of The San Francisco Marathon events over the coming months.
- Get on Strava. Social media is ubiquitous, as we all know already (you are reading a blog, after all), and Strava is arguably the best social media platform out there right now for runners. It’s easy to connect your GPS devices to Strava, and doing so will let you upload your runs to the platform. You can connect with other athletes, both home and abroad, in Strava and give each other kudos for all your training endeavors. It’s a ton of fun, and Strava is even based here in SF, which is awesome. I’ve personally met a ton of other runners in real life from Strava, making it an excellent way for you to find other athletes near to you (and possibly future training partners). You can create and join groups, too, such as this one for athletes training for any of The San Francisco Marathon’s events in 2017.
- Join an in-person training group. Running with others can bring an added boost of community and accountability to your training, and training groups are often run out of specialty running stores worldwide. Look into your options near where you live, and you’ll likely find some training groups that are training for some event in the near future. Even if you’re not training for the exact same event, you’ll be able to still cover the same (or similar) training distance each week as the others. It is so much fun to run with others — even if you don’t chat up the miles, it’s nice to be working alongside other people — and I bet that you’ll notice that the miles and work really seem to fly by. If you’re local to the SF Bay, consider joining the Run365 program, designed specifically for folks training for any of the SF Marathon events.
- Connect with other runners on social media. All it takes is a simple hashtag to your twitter or instagram posts to connect you with tons of runners from literally all over the world. The online running community can be a wonderful source of motivation and inspiration, and your family will probably welcome the reprieve from hearing about all your running-related exploits 🙂 Runners love to talk running with other runners, and the online community can be a great place to do that.
- Make your miles matter with fundraising. If you’d like your miles to matter to someone besides yourself, consider committing to fundraising for any of the official charities associated with The 2017 San Francisco Marathon. You can do a world of good with your running, bringing some much-needed philanthropy and exposure to organizations who are doing wonderful things for the community. Plus, in the process, you will likely meet other like-minded individuals who are about more than simply earning another race medal. It quickly becomes a win-win for everyone involved.
- Go for fun runs. Even if you can’t commit to a formal weekly training program, many running stores offer weekly group runs that are free and open to the public. Oftentimes, these fun runs are sponsored by major running brands, such as shoe companies or hydration organizations, so you’ll have the opportunity to both get in your miles and also test drive some running-related gear: another win-win situation. If you regularly attend fun runs, you might even meet other runners who are training for the same event as you, too. The San Francisco Marathon regularly hosts fun runs around the Bay Area in the spring and summer months leading up to the race, with partners such as Sports Basement at the East Bay Beer Runners. Typically, fun runs are designed to be very social and laid-back, so don’t worry that you might be the only one who shows up or that you might be the slowest one there. Everyone is there to have a good time on the run (literally).
While running can sometimes get lonely or tedious, it doesn’t have to be that way. With these tips, you’ll be ready to take on the next several months’ worth of training, and you’ll be prepared to get through the peaks and valleys that come with diligently training for something over several weeks’ time. Being around other runners who “get” it can be really helpful and can quickly become the difference between you staying committed to your training or dropping out altogether. Even if you consider yourself more of a wallflower than a social butterfly, I promise you that other runners out there will enthusiastically welcome you — even if you don’t chat up a storm while you’re running — and I even bet that you’ll enjoy running with others more than you might anticipate.
Just like with anything else, give yourself the opportunity to try it, and who knows? You might just net a training partner (or three) for the next few months.