I never realized how much being a part of a community of runners mattered until I moved away from mine. I had always been under the impression that I would do just fine as a solo runner, but I found out otherwise when I moved 13 hours away from my running home base. In Asheville, North Carolina I knew every single loop like the back of my hand, and always had at least 1 or 2 people that I could count on for just about any adventure I was planning. But when I got to Ithaca, New York and started to lace up my trail shoes for the first time, I realized that I knew zero trails and no one to call up and join. So I ended up running a pouty 5 miles on the sidewalks of Cornell University’s campus. I realized that I had been a part of the same community my entire running life, and couldn’t even remember the steps I had taken to meet new people and integrate myself into said community.
I found myself doubting my abilities as a runner, and was very hesitant to reach out even though I know I am strong and can cover just about any distance anyone would want to throw at me. Speed was never my thing thus it can be intimidating to join group runs when you read 7:00-7:30 minute mile pace in the description, and you’re more of a 9:00-11:00 minute mile kind of girl. But if there is one thing navigating this experience has taught (more like reminded) me, it’s that runners are some of the most understanding, and welcoming people you will ever meet. There is always someone who is willing to hang back with you, or take you under their wing to show you the local trail systems.
There’s usually a local running store somewhere near your new hometown and they’re a gold mine of information. These folks have such a passion for getting people involved that they are gleeful to have someone come in asking for help. I walked into Finger Lakes Running and Triathlon Company without a clue about the running community in Ithaca, and walked out with a group run scheduled the next day. On that group run, everyone was eager to welcome me, and offer up contacts of people they knew who sounded like good running matches for me. Within a couple weeks I had made quite a few friends and had been introduced to multiple trail systems.
We also have the advantages of social media in “today’s day and age.” I have yet to find a city/area that didn’t have a local runners Facebook page. It’s literally as simple as joining the group and posting whatever you’re looking for, be it suggestions or running partners. You will usually have a flood of responses within a few hours (again, runners are an eager bunch.)
I guess my point here is that it can be scary to enter a new running community, but never let that stop you. Running is much better when shared with friends. Runners are a passionate bunch, and most are always happy to share their passion with anyone who is willing to participate. So whether you’re an experienced runner moving to a new area or a new runner looking to join up with the local community, just go for it. You will be surprised at how many people will reach out and offer their assistance, not to mention meeting some of the most interesting people you may encounter in life.
Editors Note: Just move to a new area? Visit our Trail Sisters Facebook Groups Page to find Trail Sisters near you!