In the last six months, many of you have emailed me about wanting to be part of a running group. The good thing about the digital world is that with simple messages and emails, each of you can search for a club, or start one of your very own. Bill Bowerman, co-founder of Nike Inc. and a coaching great, once said: “Running country is everywhere. Open your door, and you are in business… Run in a schoolyard…at the beach…in a vacant plot.”
What do people look for in a running club?
The right company: Try and contact like-minded people, colleagues or family and see if they would like to join you.
A good day of the week: For many beginners, Saturday or Sunday seems to be a good day.
A suitable time in the morning: Now that summer is here, my running group has set our Saturday morning runs for 7am, as we hope to get the occasional or never-runners to join us for the first time. A number of other groups, such as the Chennai Runners, Hyderabad Runners, Runners for Life in Bangalore and Delhi Runners, have many more regular runners, so they tend to start earlier—anywhere between 5am and 6am, so they can keep cool and run longer.
A reasonable running distance: While some of us want to walk/run for half an hour, many others would like to go on and on. If you have a mix of needs, it would be a good idea for the regulars to start a half-hour earlier.
Regularity: A fixed time, with a level of punctuality, is a definite plus. In the absence of such a stipulated time, only the hard-core runners stay on; others tend to feel a little lost.
Invite more enthusiasts:
• For instance, you can have a fun 5km run with some notice and tell everyone to bring along water bottles and snacks.
•Change the venue once in a while and discover different friends’ favourite running spots.
• Get in touch with runners and help others get in touch with you. You can log on to ‘runningandliving.com/running_in_india.html’, and see if there are more people like you in your city. If you don’t find a group, you can find it on the Internet, or even email us. Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai seem to be more active than other towns, but the trend is catching on.
Building a community:
I find it interesting that in the areas where I run, everybody greets fellow runners. Such a cheerful attitude is essential. I find many runners looking so serious, as if they have been forced to come out against their will. If you wish to have more people in your group, look cheerful and sport a smile on your face throughout. The next step is to start chatting with some or running with others and then asking them to join you. You will be surprised how many actually take up your offer and, all of a sudden, you have a much wider network than what you started with.
So, how do you start?
• Pick a day of the week, time and location with clear directions for the meeting point.
• Make sure you are regular, even if no one else you know is going to be there.
• SMS, email or tell friends, family, neighbours, colleagues about your schedule.
• You may not have too many friends initially. But have patience. The important thing is to have fun. This would ensure repeat visits and regular members.
If you let us know about your group, I will add you to our list of running groups, and carry the details about you on our website. Remember, it helps to have a group. It is this bunch of like-minded people who will spur you on when you are down, force you out of bed when you want to continue sleeping, cheer for you endlessly and help you cross the finish line.
Rahul S. Verghese is a management consultant and founder of runningandliving.com. Write to us at email@example.com