Running has provided me with so many amazing opportunities over the past few years… I’ve qualified for, and ran, the Boston Marathon, I’ve been an ambassador for a few races including the Vancouver USA Marathon and the Portland Marathon, and products such as Nuun Hydration and Left Coast Raw, I’ve been able to travel to Las Vegas and Utah to run Ragnar relays, and most of all, I’ve met so many incredible people and athletes through various running groups and affiliations which has quenched my thirst for connecting with kindred spirits who love running as much as I do.
I remember several months ago, before my family moved to Los Angeles, researching running groups and clubs in the area with hopes that I’d find a place to connect with other runners. At the time, it seemed a little sparse and I worried that there weren’t the same kind of numbers of runners here as there is in the Pacific Northwest.
I’m pleased to report that my assumption was absolutely false. And thank goodness! Not only is there a thriving running community here but several trail and ultra running groups too. Given the size of the region, everything is pretty spread out here but it is still reassuring to know that they’re out there.
Because I am more introverted than extroverted (surprising but true!), making these connections is still, and will continue to be, a work in progress. I haven’t made much effort either, aside from going to the November Project somewhat consistently, since I’ve been settling into our digs, getting acclimated to the neighborhood, and adjusting to a new job.
That all said, I’ve begun strategizing a plan to expand my circle and thought it would be worth sharing. (Not to mention hold me accountable!)
- Find a running club or group. (Or several!) This might take some research but they’re out there. Most of them have a Facebook group page. I’ve been joining every group that I find within about 20 miles.
- Join a membership-based group. Honestly, I slightly struggle with the ethics of this. There are a few brands that I absolutely adore (Oiselle, Territory Run Co.) but in order to join, you have to pay a fee. They benefit by free marketing when you blast your social media accounts with pictures of you racing in their singlet while you maybe get a 10% discount on orders. Regardless, I’ve seen the impact of the community that Oiselle has created and I SO WANT IN!
- The best place to start is with a local specialty running store. Most of them offer some form of a weekly group run. There is a Road Runner Sports store a little over two miles away that meets weekly and I swear, one of these evenings I’ll actually go!
- Running stores aren’t the only hosts of group runs! There is a pizza franchise that hosts weekly meetups. I believe a bar down the road too. Do some homework (aka Google) and see what you come up with.
- Start your own group. I have yet to find something closer to my own neighborhood and have considered starting my own. As a co-founder of a running group back in Oregon, I’ll say that it has crossed my mind more than a few times and it’s really not that difficult.
- Look beyond “running” clubs. I’ve mentioned several times recently that I’ve been attending the November Project. It’s chock-full of runners! How about your local gym? Or yoga studio? There are runners there too!
- The number of virtual running friends I have, by far, exceeds the number of running friends I have in real life. Thanks to social media, I can connect to runners across the globe. But, I can also connect to runners in my own neck of the woods (er, city) using the same practices.
- Use your affiliations to find your tribe. I owe so, so much to Nuun Hydration for a number of friendships that I have thanks to their vision that is Team Nuun. I am so fortunate to know so many incredible athletes that, like me, are members of the team. True story: I think it was my second time attending the November Project and in the crowd, I spotted a woman wearing a hoodie with the Nuun logo embossed on the back. I approached her and struck up a conversation. Boom! Another team member and recent transplant to LA, like myself. We are now friends on Facebook, follow each other on Instagram, and are planning to run the same 8k next month so the commonality creates an opportunity to connect.
- Volunteer at an event. I have yet to do this but I will. If you’re not racing, the next best thing is to support the runners that are and who knows, perhaps you’ll befriend the person you’re manning the aid station with.
- Just show up. It’s the November Project motto (by way of hashtag) and it’s true. I can talk, and/or plan, until I’m blue in the face but unless I actually show up, I’m on my own and that translates to not meeting people.
BONUS TIP: Don’t forget that the best running partner might be your life partner!
Without a doubt, I know that I’ve overlooked an idea or two so please feel free to comment and share your ideas on how to meet like-minded runners obsessed with the sport as much as you are!