With Marathon Season underfoot, you might consider becoming one of the nearly 700,000 New Yorkers who’ve added running to their exercise routine. And why not? You’ve got feet, and the city is your track. All you need is a little inspiration.
When most urban running newbies think about taking up jogging, they have visions of getting up early and trekking through the city streets alone with nothing but their own thoughts–or maybe their favorite podcast–to keep them company. And for a lot of people, this works. There are many benefits to running solo, not the least of which is the opportunity to set your own pace while getting some much-needed alone time on nobody’s schedule but your own in a frantic city.
But for a growing number of people, joining a running club is a great way to improve their running skills while making new friends who will keep them motivated. But the benefits don’t end there. With groups available from levels that range from novice to competitive, running clubs are a great way to get access to training and coaching services while ensuring safety in numbers for running in dimly lit parks during early morning or evening hours.
New York City is home to a bevy of running clubs, each with its purpose, goals, and unique history. Some are free to join, while others have modest to steep membership fees. And like everything in New York, the offerings are diverse. The next question is, how do you find the right running club for you? There are a few things to consider.
Are you a morning person or an evening person? Can you take a break from work in the middle of the day? Most running clubs meet two or three times a week either in the morning, after work, or around lunchtime. Find a group with runs that fit in with your lifestyle and work commitments.
Some running clubs are businesses that are coaching services that may ask you to sign up and pay for sessions. Other clubs are charity-based, where membership fees raise funds for a cause. Some may require a moderate fee for administrative costs or water. A lot of clubs are just free.
What’s your running pace? Are you a run/walk person? Are you a light jogger? Are you a six-minute mile runner? How far can you run? Do you have a distance goal in mind? Some larger clubs have people with a variety of abilities. Smaller clubs are almost always more specifically aimed at certain abilities.
Are you looking to run in a specific locale like Central Park or along the river? Do you prefer the convenience of running in your neighborhood? Finding a club that runs where you want to run is going to be key to your growth in the sport.
Are you looking to run with people who are competitive and are going to challenge you? Or are you looking to share your hobby with people who are fun and share your interests outside of running? By nature clubs have personalities. Look for a club that fits your social or fitness objectives.
Since you’re reading this post online, you’re already in the right place to find a club that’s right for you. The New York Road Runners website is a terrific resource for tips for runners of all levels. It also has a comprehensive list of competitive and social clubs operating in the greater New York City Area–and there are a wide variety of them. Here’s a sampling.
The Reservoir Dogs
True to its namesake, this competitive midsize club runs in Central Park near the reservoir four times a week. According to their website, the club’s primary goal is “to encourage each member to achieve his or her own personal goals, whether that’s hitting a new personal best in a race or committing to running a loop of Central Park.”
North Brooklyn Runners
Looking for variety? This free club runs more than 20 times a week in the early morning and at night in Prospect Park, McCarren Park and even the Williamsburg Bridge. They offer a flow of easy runs, track workouts, tempo runs, and long runs.
Front Runners New York
With over 1100 members, this group of LGBTQ runners and allies is one of the largest clubs in the city. They offer a wide variety of activities and events for runners of all levels and are the only running club in the city to host its own race in Central Park–the annual LGBT Pride Run, started in 1982.
Slow Girl Run Club
If you’re looking to sprint, this isn’t the club for you. If you’re a 10:30/11 minute mile runner or slower, this all-inclusive, non-intimidating, low-key group of runners founded by a media professional could be the right pack for you.
Brooklyn Beer Runners
Want to get fit and then get lit? Are you looking to explore more of Brooklyn than its parks? This group meets every Wednesday under the arch in Grand Army Plaza and then runs three to four miles to a different bar every week.
Adobo Social & Anti-Social Athletic Club
In spite of its name, this group offers serious running coaching. Made up largely of runners in the 40s and 50s, this group of mostly Filipino runners is open to all ages, nationalities, and abilities. They offer coached group workouts, weekend brunches, and various other social outings. The only requirement to join is a fondness for Filipino food—and if you haven’t tried it, they’re happy to share!
The Most Informal Running Club Ever
Want to make some new friends, get a good workout, eat a huge stack of pancakes, or drink some awesome beer? TMIRCE NYC could be the club for you. This group offers several runs a week in various locales throughout the city for “track workouts, casual bRUNches, tempo workouts, races, happy hours, and the occasional pie in the face.”