Running group–I’m still trying to grapple with this social phenomenon where strangers come together to run but not necessarily alongside of one another.
I ran with a “group” tonight. It’s a quote-unquote group because I ended up running only with my cousin, Cynthia, which we could have done on our own. See, the story is that our neighborhood running store, Texas Running Company, holds a group run every Thursday, running an optional short loop of 1.8 miles or a big round of 4.8 miles. When Cyn and I arrived promptly at 6:30pm, several hard-core looking runners were stretching ready to go. Ten minutes of standing around, not knowing what the protocol was, those runners were still stretching–we were intimidated; Cyn wanted to leave. Finally, when the organizers of the group introduced us to the group, and asked which route we planned to do, Cyn and I found that we’ll be the only ones running the short loop on this night, and we were not planning to join the Happy Hour after.
We stayed to run the short loop ourselves anyway, and found that another first timer who is new to town is joining the short loop group as well. Only then did I feel like I was running with a group because there was a stranger in the mix.
The route was surprisingly pleasant to run. We ran along a well-paved road encircling a man-made pond, a common sight in Sugar Land, where new, beautiful condos were being built. The night was perfect with clear skies and cool air in the upper 50s. After we ran the loop once, our group-maker had to leave, so Cyn and I decided to go for a second round. Upon finishing, we joined the long-loop runners back at starting point. After a few moments of chatting around the gatorade coolers, some runners waved their goodbyes while others continued chatting until one person finally pushed everyone onto the next social setting that includes food and beer.
Now are the last two ingredients what a running group make? There are certainly runners who only join for the running portion of the evening, but most stood around waiting for the eating and drinking portion of the evening to begin. I can understand joining a group for a common interest, and each gathering finishes with happy hour, but if you are one of those runners who join the group run yet run the route by yourself, don’t interact with anyone during the run, and say your goodbyes after the run, then what’s the incentive?