By Zane Thrift

Running. It’s one of the most beneficial independent sports that there is, and not just for your health, but for your social life too. There are plenty of people that simply dread running, and they look around at their friends or family and wonder how they manage to enjoy it. One of the prevalent pieces of advice that experienced runners will give to newer runners is one of the simplest things to do, social runs. Social runs have a vast collection of benefits that can turn someone from hating to run, into someone who looks forward to their run daily, and I am a prime example.

Okay, so you’re itching to know what the big deal about social runs are. Let’s start with the most evident, that’s your health. Running is by far one of the best things you can do for yourself, not just for your heart or your muscles, but mentally too. When you join running clubs you start to gather an accountability to be somewhere, when you don’t show up you feel guilty for letting others down who look forward to you being there. As you create this culpability it spawns a much more satisfying experience for you and the group you are running with, and ultimately it just becomes a habit. Just remember, every run begins with a single step.

One of the most shocking things I found out (quickly I might add) when I first started doing social runs was how much farther and faster I found I could run. As humans we strive for a social connection, when you have that social connection when you run you forget about that voice in the back of your head that says “can we stop now?” or “are we there yet?” As you construct relationships with the people you run with, you gather such a strong camaraderie and they become your own personal cheerleaders and support system as you do the same for them. This is also helpful on those long days, you’re in a bad mood, you’re tired, but you know that a good run with your friends will pull you out of that mood and rejuvenate your energy. Improving your performance is very infectious and let’s face it, we’re competitive, which in turn pushes us to be more enhanced than we were the day before and social runs give an instantaneous source to that type of incentive.

Most social runs or running clubs have a wide variety of runners, from beginners to runners who have competed in multiple marathons or ultras. This is significant not only because you can find your own niche and pace within that group, but you have admission to a treasure of knowledge that will help you as you push towards your running goals. A simple tip can change everything and surpass your training to accelerate how fast you are able to achieve goals you didn’t think you could do in a small amount of time. You are able to learn from mistakes that other experienced runners have faced, from wearing the wrong running gear, nutrition, and where that body glide stuff should go (you don’t want to find out the hard way).  Even some of the most experienced runners enjoy tips from others; anything to help advance your run is infrequently turned down.

Runners love to explore. We love to find new trails, back roads, anything that is new and stimulating that isn’t our customary route. Social runs allow you that occasion to find new areas to explore. The more that you run in one place the more likely you are to get tired of running or start to see a decrease in the satisfaction you get during your runs. Every day most people drive the same particular way to work, we go to the same grocery store, the same routines day in and day out, why would you want that aspect of your life to be assimilated into your running life? You don’t, and neither does your running group. Whether you meet once a week, or once a month, it’s such an uplifting feeling to be somewhere you naturally don’t run. That refreshing feeling revitalizes the part of you that loves to run, and if you do it incessantly you’ll always feel refreshed.

Primarily, the most significant part about social runs are the friends you make. Whether you are new to your area or you’ve lived there your entire life, you can always meet new people. We’re all in this together; we’re all striving for our goals, moving forward, and looking for that social interaction. To be able to go on a run and talk about your progress with people who actually care to hear it is something you can’t just buy. You are able to talk about your week, the important events going on in your life, and you craft a special bond with people who have the same gratification in running as you do. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t have an inconceivable amount of friends when I moved to Dallas and the friends I’ve made In  my running group have changed me for the better. Not only has this group become my coaches and support system, but they have become my close friends as well. Anytime someone new comes to our group, I am pretty convinced they will be back because of the atmosphere that is created when we all get together… it’s everything you’d want and it makes running fun for everyone.

What this really boils down to is this: it doesn’t matter what type of runner you are, and it doesn’t matter what your pace is, anyone and everyone can profit in one way or another by doing social runs. There is no way I’d be the runner I am today without the group I run with. If you don’t run socially already then the biggest question you are facing is… What’s stopping you? If you want to run but you haven’t found the motivation to do it then check out your local clubs and give it a shot, you could surprise yourself.

About The Author

What’s there to say? It’s simple really; I have an incredible passion for running. There is just something about that feeling of running when you don’t even comprehend you’re running anymore, it’s a feeling I strive for on every run. I remember realizing that my health wasn’t the best, and I unequivocally decided to make a huge change in my life and that’s when everything really changed for the better as I picked up running; it’s all I could think about, all I wanted to do was run. There’s a sense of harmony, it’s your alone time to prepare or reflect on the day ahead.

One of the best decisions I’ve made was on an impulse as I decided to show up for a social run with a running group called “Pint Striders”. I didn’t really know what to anticipate, but by the end of the night I was hooked. The group is so hospitable to new people, it’s not just about the run but it’s also the social aspect, the camaraderie, and the wonderful support system that this group delivers. I went from running my first 5k in 2018 to ending the year running my first Marathon at the BMW Dallas Marathon, thanks in large part to the support of my family, and especially my running group.

I didn’t expect much when I started to run; I just thought it was a way to be healthy. I started to run in local races with Run Project because I thought it would be enjoyable and it turned into so much more than that. The most important part is running local, every time you run you’re not just doing something for yourself, but you’re giving back to the community. Every run and every step means something. Run Project provides sensational ways to support essential charities and give back to our communities, not to mention how structured and fun their events are. As someone who has always enjoyed assisting with great causes, I am always privileged to participate in Run Project events.