Why I run today, may not be why I run tomorrow. What I have come to realize is that who I run with impacts my overall happiness and motivation. Running should be a time of enjoyment and not added stress to my already chaotic life. If I surround myself with people who are on the same mission as me, it makes things easier. There are many different categories of runners and running clubs are usually made up of all types. However, when a club is taken over by a particular type, I have to make sure it’s a good fit for me. It’s not worth the risk of losing my love for this sport.
There are three main runner categories that I discovered affect me the most depending upon my running purpose at that time. They are the social runners, the goal-driven runners, and the runners looking to escape. Some days, I may be a social runner. Other days, I may be the goal-driven runner. Typically though, I go through cycles. If I have race goals, I’m goal-driven runner until my race day.
Realizing how these different categories impact my purpose for running has helped me maintain the enjoyment in my runs. I’ve summarized a description of each below and have also added when it’s a good or bad fit for me.
The social runners…..
These are runners who care mainly about their health and affiliation. They do have goals and work hard to achieve them, but that’s not their main driver. Just the fact that they have friends to help them get their exercise in for the day is their motivation to get up in the morning. Some aren’t too concerned with their pace or number of miles. They like to keep races fun, run for a good cause or just good scenery. During their daily runs, they are happy to stay back with the slowest runner to make sure they feel welcome and find their way back to the cars.
- I don’t have any major goals coming up and I’m flexible on my pace/distance
- I need friends to keep me accountable so I don’t gain 10 pounds
- Race goals are no longer motivating me — I need to find the love in the miles with no expectations and good conversation
- I have a goal set for an upcoming race and seek accountability for specific paces, elevation or mileage
- I will be upset if I don’t hit my targeted goals and lack self-motivation. I may end up following someone who says “let’s miss this upcoming hill” or “we are close enough”
- I may become frustrated if we are not starting on time because this group is typically more flexible
The goal-driven runners……
Most of these runners have a scheduled race, detailed training plan with targeted paces/distances. They enjoy the comradery, but that’s not their main driver. Their training plan gets them out of bed in the morning. It’s important for them to get their workouts in within their targeted pace. They like to be surrounded by other goal-focused runners to keep them accountable. Most prefer not to be the fastest one in the group, so they have others to push them. There’s an understanding that they will not hold each other back. No one is waiting on anyone (unless they are hurt of course!). They will socialize after the workout or text you to make sure you made it back to your car safely.
- I’m serious about achieving race goals; this group will push me, keep me accountable and motivate me to achieve them
- I want faster people to make me faster
- I know the expectation is to hit our planned paces, elevation, and distance
- I’m in the mood to enjoy the scenery, take pictures or just want some exercise
- I don’t want anyone to keep me accountable. I will feel like I’m failing if I’m not able to hit a certain pace even though that’s not my goal
- I may become frustrated if I’m left behind because I’m late; this group typically keeps a tight schedule
The runners looking to escape….
For whatever reason (wrong or right), they are not happy at home. They look to other runners as their new “tribe”. They prioritize this group ahead of their family. Instead of sharing intimate details of their dreams, goals and aspirations with their spouse, they are turning to individuals in this group. The “I’m going for a run” turns into missing important family time to spend on running trips, frequent meals with other runners, and club events. When they find someone else to confide in who shares common interest and goals, it’s very easy for affairs to happen.
Good fit (this one is not a good fit for this girl…but maybe if):
- I’m looking for this group to fill a void in my life and leaning on them for support
- I had an abnormally secure spouse who is comfortable with the environment of “what happens in the group stays in the group” and fine with their group chat constantly blowing up my phone
- I was trying to hook up
- When cheating occurs, it now involves all the runners. We are forced with a difficult decision if we are going to “keep the secret” when families are at stake.
- Creates an environment of constant pressure to put their “tribe” first
- This environment has proven to cross my personal boundaries and causes unwanted stress. I risk ending up on YouTube when someone is constantly seeking attention by flirting with my husband.
This is just one girl’s opinion. There are many other runner “types” out there. I know running is a great escape for people especially when they are dealing with situations I cannot understand (nor is it my place to). I also use running to escape my daily stress. I just don’t use it to replace my family because I like them (well most days). I truly wish the best for everyone even if we don’t agree. If you found your soulmate in a run club and they happened to be married to someone else, that’s cool that worked out for you. You do you! (It appears it’s pretty common). I’ll do me and go where I’m happiest. This is what has kept running fun for me. Everyone has their own story. Discover what keeps running enjoyable for you!