With all this extra time on my hand, I have been able to revisit a topic I wrote about a couple of months ago. As I mentioned at the time, I have been considering joining a running group to provide myself a little more support and hopefully benefit from the knowledge and experience of other runners. Admittedly, I’m not sure how well I’ll adapt to group running but I figure I’ll give it a try and see how things work out. If I like it and I fit into the group culture then that’s just another positive environment for me to be in and a place where I can potentially learn enough to take my running to the next level.
I have to be realistic and don’t want to waste anyone’s time while evaluating my options. Therefore, I have come up with a short set of criteria to help me determine which of the available groups works well for me.
- Location – This is a very important criteria. I don’t want to have to run 4/5 miles just to get to a meeting point. It would be great if I could find a group within a 10/15 minute jog from my home, ideally with Prospect Park as the base.
- Schedule – Extremely important given that one of the things I’m looking for is support and motivation, especially on long runs. With school scheduled to start in September, and classes running on alternate Saturdays, my long runs will all be on Sundays. Ideally, the club or group will have their long runs on Sunday morning with a few other runs during the week.
- Group Size / Runner Level – Although part of the reason for joining is to have the group motivate and push me, I don’t want to be paddy last! I would like to know that the group has runners across all standards, so I can find fellow athletes to learn from and give something back too.
- Cool Logo / Shirts – The least important of the criteria but it matters enough to warrant a mention. The vest color and logo should be interesting and cool, and something that grabs people’s attention at races or when you’re out there on the street!
Most of this infomration I was able find on the various groups websites, but for some I had to reach out to the primary contact email address and wait for a reply. After collecting all the information, this is how it shakes out in reverse order:
- BRRC – The group meets on Prospect Park West which is comfortable distance from my home. However, their schedule doesn’t really work for me. Midweek runs are Tuesday and Thursday evening’s (I prefer morning) and weekend runs vary in distance. They have a lot of runners around my level, which is a plus. Unfortunately, green is not my color.
- PPTC – This group meets at Grand Army Plaza, about a mile from home so it’s relatively convenient. Unfortunately, their long runs are on Saturday morning and the only other group runs are a short loop of the park on Sunday and a large group run on Wednesday evening. The club has a wide range of skill levels, so I could definitely blend in well. However, I don’t look good in red.
- SBRC – Their location works great for me! They meet at Carroll Park, which is about 5 minutes from my house. However, the schedule is not so good. The morning group runs are at 6:45AM and my morning cutoff (when I have to be back home) is 7:15AM. Based on their web site, the group size tends to be small and they have a limited number of “slower” runners like myself. Constantly being among the slowest would definitely be a de-motivator for me. The logo and shirts are cool though.
- NBR – Of the four groups North Brooklyn Runners seems to be the best fit. They run most days, but the two that most interest me are the short to medium run on Wednesday morning @ 6AM that meets at Grand Army Plaza and the long run @ 7AM on Sunday that meets at McCarren Park. Although this is well outside my home zone, I could take the G train a few stops and then jog to the meeting point. This group seems to have a lot of members, ranging in skill levels. They also have an excellent website and an awesome shirt/logo.
Now I just have to head out and join them for a couple of runs to see if my research pans out. I’ll follow up on this post once I’ve found a good home.
Note: The ranking of clubs above is not meant to be empirical and is based solely on my own personal analysis and needs. Each club is unique in it’s own right and offers support to runners of all ages and levels. No one club is better than any of the others, but one may be better suited to an individual runners depending on a wide range of factors such those I mentioned above. If you are looking for a group, please take the time to research and meet the groups yourself, so you can find a comfortable place to run.