Group runs are great for new runners and those returning to the sport

"Run, Grub, Chub" group run participants in November 2015. Photo from their facebook page.

I have found that there's no better way to gain distance, run faster, and enjoy running more than to find a few folks to run with on a regular basis. The problem is, if you're new to running (and we'll use the word "new" for anyone who is getting into it for the first time, or after some time off), it can be intimidating to run with others. You might think you are too slow, that you need too many walk breaks, or maybe that you just don't do it right. Your instinct might be to get "better" on your own and then join up with people. Or you might assume that others don't want to run with you. When it comes to some people, and some group runs, you might be right. But there are so many group runs and individual runners (and walkers) who honestly want to see you get stronger and are actually fine with walk breaks, slowing down, or running fewer miles than actually planned. Here are few things that are true about the majority of "open to all paces" group runs:

  1. There are people there who want to see you succeed
  2. There are people there who will stick with you on the run, and they don’t mind running slower or shorter
  3. There are people who will actually plan their run schedules to get in a few miles with you
  4. Saying, “Let’s slow down” is fine – and usually, if a hill is killing you, others want to slow down or even walk, too
  5. It may take you four or five times (or more) out with the group before you stop feeling self-conscious

Runners at a 2012 Monday Night Run hosted by Portland Running Company at their Beaverton location. (I’m waaaaay on the left – you can actually only see my running stroller occupied by my daughter.)

So if this is you, don’t let your nerves hold you back from finding some great people to run with. If you can run a mile on your own, you can probably conquer two with a group. Based on my recent experience of coming back after baby #2 (an emergency C-section, which changed my recovery plan completely), finding some supportive running buddies is vital. I started slow – first walking, then running just a mile, then two … but I didn’t start feeling great about my improvement until I’d been logging miles regularly for about six weeks. It takes time for running to feel natural again.

I highly recommend the group runs from Portland Running Company for new runners, and posting on their Monday Night group run facebook page. Those on the Westside can also check out the Sunstone Running Club, which runs on Tuesday and Thursday nights in Beaverton. Foot Traffic running store also has weekly group runs, at all three of their locations.

Go Beyond Racing’s Todd Janssen, who puts on events including the Smith Rock Ascent and the Portland Trail Series, suggests the Trail Factor weekly runs. They meet up in Forest Park every Tuesday at 6:15 – rain or shine – and get a beer together afterwards.

Gresham Run Club (Team GRC) hosts two group runs each week, on Mondays and Wednesdays, from various locations around Gresham. Both runs start at 6:30p – Track on Mondays and road on Wednesdays.

In Vancouver, Run Oregon’s Marilyn Tycer suggests the Run, Grub, Chug group runs. Their facebook page (found here) is very active, and if you click on “Events” you can see a list of their planned runs.

This link includes all of our posts tagged “great group runs” and lists even more that you can check out. Be sure to look into the Red Lizard runs if you’re looking for a bit quicker pace.

About Kelly Barten (1152 Articles)
I started the Run Oregon blog in February 2007, because I felt like running in Oregon and SW Washington deserved more positive coverage. I also wanted to level the playing field so that small, non-profit races could compete with big events; and to support LOCAL race organizers. I'm a Creighton Bluejay (undergrad) and an Oregon Duck (Sports Marketing MBA), and I live in Tigard with my husband and two kids. My "real job" is working for an incredibly awesome math textbook company doing marketing and production.
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