Hey y'all! Kelly and I met through team Oiselle (or team Weezy, as my brother likes to call it), and we got the chance to run together up in Chicago when I visited last month. You're reading this blog because you already know how awesome she is, so I will just confirm that in real life she's just as nice as she comes across in blog life. If we didn't live twelve hours apart, I would make her run with me every week.
Maggie from Mag Mile Runner already detailed why Kelly is a great BRF (best runner friend), so I'm going to give you some tips on how to find your own BRF wherever you live.
One of the things that I didn't have when I first started running in 2011 was a regular running partner. I had just moved to a new town, so I was forming regular friendships and hadn't even really considered yet how important running friendships would be. I ran at the gym a lot because they provided baby sitting, which helps when you have four kids, and I ran outside on the weekends when my husband was home. I spent a lot of running hours soul searching and fine tuning my playlists while I marathon trained, but after a year of mostly solo running, one of my goals for 2012 was to finally make some runner friends or make my friends into runners.
As we're about to wrap up this year, I cannot believe how much my running world has changed in just a year. So the 2012 Find Some Friends For Running Experiment was a complete success.
Here's what I did:
1. Make friends where you work out most. Because I spend a lot of time at the gym, I needed to make friends there. For some reason, all of my regular friends go to another gym, so my normal plan of making friends go to the gym with me for various classes or to treadmill next to each other would not work at this gym. So I finally just started talking to people who were there at the same time as me every day. Most important, I scoped out who the runners were, and, surprise, surprise, those people are now my gym BRFs. What makes them great is that they know my schedule, and if I don't show up, they worry that something is wrong with me. So on my lazy days when I'm just feeling it, I can very easily get motivated to get with it by a text from my gym BRFs.
Here are my gym BRF and I. Bonus of treadmill dates: you can all run your own pace but still be next to each other for plenty of chatting.
2. Start a blog. I started Yo Momma Runs in January of this year to help with my 2012 goal of getting out of solo running. I wanted to connect with other runners, and I knew the blogging community had lots of support to offer. The hard part about blogger friends is that they aren't always local, but I eventually started meeting local runners through the blog as well. I made one of my first local blogger friends a few months after starting the blog, and then she introduced me to her local runner friends. So it was like a chain of happiness and friendships that started with the blog. Also now when I travel, I can almost guarantee that I know someone in that area who I can connect with for running, even if it's just someone I can message for tips on where to run. Occasionally I get lucky and actually meet up with those people for a run.
3. Convert regular friends to running. By being an obsessive runner and talking about it constantly, you can begin to figure out who has a slight interest in running. Some signs are if they don't roll their eyes or look at the floor when you talk about running again. If you spot a slight interest, start talking about possible races you could prep for together. Last year, I had a group of a few friends who were vaguely interested in running a half marathon. They told me the parameters (how far they would travel, how long they wanted to train, whether or not they wanted to try and have a baby), so I went home and performed lots of Google searches until I found the right race for us. Four girls ended up running that race, so add four new BRFs to my tally.
4. Race locally. Eventually you'll start seeing familiar faces. I have several local runner friends who I only know because I talked to them before or after a race. This is a great way to find people who are similar to your pace because you end up near each other during the race.
5. Join a running club. Mine is the Birmingham Track Club. I originally joined because they had a discount at my local running shoe store if you were a track club member, but when I became dedicated to finding runner friends, I knew the club was a hotbed of potential. They also host my current long-run group that has completely changed my marathon training. Provided water stops and tons of people who run the same pace as me for three hours every Saturday morning, sign me up.
6. Look for runner meet-ups sponsored by local businesses. Do your local running stores meet for group runs? We have three stores in our community (Alabama Outdoors, Fleet Feet, Trak Shak) that host free weekly runs. Also, my local Lululemon store hosts a free weekly run. If you are nervous about these, invite one of your current running friends to go with you, and you can figure out the scene together.
7. Encourage relatives to run. I'm lucky to have a brother who lives in the same town who runs with me a lot. He's definitely my ultimate BRF. Here we are at the Mercedes Half Marathon in February.
If you have some family members who might be interested in running, start small and non-obligatory. At this year's Thanksgiving, I invited everyone to join me for a 5K (not a race, just a run) on Thanksgiving morning, and to my surprise, ten people showed up for the run.
Here we are laced up and ready to go.
The key to all of these, except maybe the relatives one, is that you can't be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and talk to people. We moved a lot when I was growing up, so even though I was a very shy child, I was forced out of that at an early age. You may be shy and not care about having BRFs, but if you are shy and care about having BRFs, just start small. And if you're not shy, well, get out there and start converting future BRFs. The more runners who exist, the better our chances of finding our ultimate BRFs.
Where did you meet your BRFs?
Does anyone in your family run?
Have you converted any of your regular BFFs to BRFs?