|Posted by Breanna Cornell on January 11, 2016 at 8:35 PM|
I’ve changed states a number of times in the short time that I’ve been an adult in "the real world" (not college). If there’s one thing it’s taught me, it’s how to learn to connect with other people with similar interests – in this case, how to find the trail running community.
It may seem like an easy task – just search on Facebook for the nearest run group, right? But fitting a group run into a training plan and around work and life can be difficult. What other ways are there? Moving from Michigan to Alabama, and Alabama to Arizona in the past two years have coached me: MANY!
1. Race Local
You always meet new people at races. Sign up for a local event, even if it’s a distance you don’t typically race, and run it for fun. Connect with other people on the course, at the aid stations, and at the after party. Don’t hesitate to ask those you identify with to share a couple of training runs. If racing isn’t your gig, volunteer! Working an aid station provides ample opportunity to connect with other runners volunteering as well as all of the racers that pass through (and it’s a boat load of fun).
After moving to Alabama, I raced the Pinhoti 100, a short 3 hour drive from where I had moved to. I didn’t really know anyone at the event, but the following month while at a local 10km, I was stopped by a race volunteer who said they recognized me from Pinhoti. After swapping phone numbers, we went for a long run later that month and a trail running friendship was born.
I met Steven at that local 10k/Pinhoti – he later ended up being an AWESOME pacer/crew with his wife Denise at Thunder Rock.
2. Talk About Your Running
New to an area? Talk to your coworkers about your hobbies! Mention that you’re looking for a running buddy. You’ll find that almost everyone knows a crazy runner, and they’ll be enthusiastic to connect you to them so they don’t have to listen to you talk about your splits or weekly distances covered around the water cooler.
I was fortunate enough to have a supervisor who sincerely cared about people’s interests. Being a cyclist himself, he was familiar with the triathlete community and kindly put me in contact with them to coordinate joining their run groups.
3. Get Online
Sure, you can find the Facebook run groups, but that may not fit in with your schedule in whatever capacity. Don’t be afraid to post to them, though– it’s a personal ad for a workout buddy. Check out other social media platforms, too (e.g., Twitter's #runchat and #ultrachat on Sunday evenings). Don’t limit yourself to run groups, though. Search through the events to find any free runs or fat ass races near your area.
After moving to Alabama, I found an event on Facebook for an unofficial event “The Battle of Jericho.” There, I met a group of runners (affectionately called the “BUTS” – Birmingham Ultra Trail Society) and met some people who, I am sure, will be life-long friends.
All of the awesome runners at the Battle of Jericho – check out them BUTS!!!
Many runners volunteer to help with trail work. Look for opportunities in your area to get out and volunteer – not only will you be giving back to the community, but you might walk away from it having learned some new trails and meeting some new racing buddies.
I had a friend from Salt Lake City invite me up to volunteer for a weekend in Monument Valley shortly after moving to Arizona this fall. It was a fantastic weekend of sleeping in hogans, trail runs, and helping the Navajo community out. Not only did I meet some fantastic trail runners, it connected me with people who organize many events in the surrounding area that I am looking forward to running and volunteering at.
Trail and Ultra Running volunteers in Monument Valley – organized by the Grand Circle Trail Series awesome race director, Matt Gunn.
Go for a run by yourself. Go out on new trails (check out the All Trails app – it’s been a fantastic tool in finding new trails in my area as I’ve moved). You might be surprised how many runners you may (or may not) encounter on the trail.
This past weekend, I arrived at the trailhead ready to head up the back of Mt Humphrey by myself. Shortly after stepping out of my car, I hear a voice, “Are you here for the run group?” No, I wasn’t, but I was more than happy to join! We happened to be headed out on the same route. I met a dozen runners who before that morning had been foreign to me, but will [hopefully!] evolve to be friends as I seek out and join their group runs when I can.
And lastly, don’t rush.
Finding a good running buddy, learning the trails and routes in your area, or connecting with a run group that fits your training goals and schedule can take time. It can also take a pinch of courage. They might not be the first Google search that pops up, or it might not even be the best fit after sharing a couple of runs – but when you find that relationship that works, run with it.
Do what you love,
Love what you do.