If you've ever tried running alone you, know it can be difficult to get the motivation to go out and exercise. It's easy to come up with an excuse not to go -- maybe the temperature outside isn't right or the food you ate last night is disagreeing with you. Running is typically viewed as a solitary sport, but there are large groups of fitness-minded people out there.
Running clubs are exactly what they sound like: organizations for people interested in running. Each club has different rules and activities, but they're all bound together by the idea that a community is stronger than an individual. These groups can help build motivation, create support networks and provide a healthy social outlet for both new runners and veterans of the sport.
The popularity of running clubs has increased in recent years due to the ease of setting up a Web site or blog to attract new members. And with e-mail newsletters and race reminders, it is simpler and cheaper to keep in touch with fellow runners than it was in the past. Local organizations have also been bolstered by the Road Runners Club of America, a nationwide nonprofit network of running clubs helping to promote and advertise running activities and news in different states [source: Road Runners Club of America].
Clubs have a variety of focuses. Some concentrate more on training, others more on the social aspect of running -- some even focus on philanthropy, throwing benefits and hosting galas year-round. The particular group's mission statement (which is usually posted on the club's Web site) can help when you're choosing which club to join.
It's all about finding the right fit for you. Once you join, you'll be ready to participate in running club activities -- a few of which we'll look at on the next page.