What Does It Mean to Be a Part of the Running Community? Let’s Talk Sharing, Support, and Society.

Whether you’re just starting your running journey or you’re a seasoned veteran who’s only just now becoming more involved, you’re probably going to stumble into other runners and running groups. If you were worried that you’d run alone forever and are excited about the prospect of running with others, this is an amazing time! Regardless of how you discovered these people and groups, you’ve now found your way into the running community.

Written by Lucas Collins
Edited by Pavlína Marek

Sharing is Caring

When you come across other runners and build bonds with them, it opens up a whole new avenue of possibilities. The ability to share your progress, accomplishments, goals, motivations, and commiserations with those who experience the same things and can understand you is endlessly beneficial. It will help you stick to and accomplish your goals, and it will make the whole process much more enjoyable.

A Burden Shared is a Burden Halved

Many of you may have wondered if your running experience is or feels similar to other runners.

  • “What routine do other people follow and with what results?”
  • “Does everyone breathe this hard as they run?”
  • “Does everyone else struggle this much as they increase distance, or cut down on their time?” 
  • “How do other people react if they don’t make the progress they expected to?”
  • “Do others react with the same elation when they reach that next milestone?”
  • “Do other runners also have to find a bathroom within the first five minutes of starting their runs…?”

When you are a part of a running community, you can have all these questions answered (or answer them for others)! Depending on the group of people you share your miles with, barriers will fall quickly and you’ll get your answers even to the more intimate ones. (Here’s a common one; yes, a lot of us chafe “down there.” Slather yourself in Vaseline before every run to stop the chafing!)

Shared Joy is Double Joy

The good news is there are a lot of shared experiences among runners, and plenty of shared catharsis too. Many people are working towards the same goals and events, including the ones you might be interested in.

There are groups and individuals training for their first 5k. Others have banded together to train for a marathon, or maybe even an ultra. With other people around working toward the same thing and pushing each other to stay on course, it’s no surprise that many feel more motivated when running with others.

What’s more, the finish line just hits differently when there are the smiling faces of your comrades welcoming you on the other side!

An All-Inclusive Support Team

With all the ways people can relate to and support each other, much of the running community strives to be as inclusive as possible. It isn’t hard to find those who will help you find the will to lace up your shoes. Your running buddies will call you to get out of bed to meet them for an early morning run and make sure you take it easy when an injury puts you out of commission. They’ll shout words of encouragement at you and stay by your side while you struggle through the last quarter-mile on the route. In short, other runners will be there when you need that extra ‘oomph’ to reach the next step.

While a great majority of runners will fall into this mindset, it is sadly not a universal one. You might meet a few exclusionary gatekeepers who don’t want you to join the community for reasons ranging from skill level to the various degrees of hate we sometimes see nowadays. It’s a terrible thing, one that some people unfortunately experience the first time they try to find other runners.

People that turn away others that are enthusiastic enough to participate in this sport and activity are grossly inappropriate, and do nothing but hold running back as a whole.

I’m sorry if your first encounter with another runner or group is one of malice. If you still feel demoralized by those interactions, I hope you’ll take solace in knowing that their words mean nothing, and just by running, you are a runner. I implore you to keep looking for fellow runners, no matter how discouraging. There are so many other runners out there who will welcome you with open arms and make your experience something amazing going forward.

Final Words

All this is not to say that doing things on your own will lead you to ruin. Plenty of people can set, stick to, and achieve their goals all on their own while staying motivated. If going it alone is how you want to do things, go for it! Be your own cheerleader as you put more and more miles behind you. However, if you join a group of others who are supportive and share your goals, then make the most of it, and enjoy all the time you spend with your running buddies in your new community!

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