Updated: May 9, 2021
For most of us, doing anything for the first time is scary. When we’re nervous about a presentation, we prep and practice to dampen the nerves. This works for most times in life including going to a new run club. Here are 14 tips for making your first run club adventure successful or at least less stressful:
Preparation before you go:
1. Prepare Questions - Have 3 easy questions prepared to ask other runners. Brainstorming simple questions can give you something to say in those awkward moments. Here are some examples
What brought you out here?
What got you into running?
What are you looking forward to the most?
What’s been your favourite race?
What do you like about running?
2. Basic Answers - Have short answers to your questions and basic run club questions:
See questions from tip #1
What’s your level of running?
3. Reach Out Ahead of Time - Message the runner leader and ask questions. Let them know you’re coming and (if applicable) nervous about meeting people. A good social run leader helps new runners to integrate into the group. Ask about timing, schedule, the skill level of the group. Anything that will help set your mind at ease.
4. Set a Goal - Try to meet a few different people. Just to be clear, meeting doesn’t mean finding out their life story, all it means is say hi and find out their name. DONE. Then at the next social run, you already know people and it’s easier to ask questions. You’re also allowed to ask more questions than their name.
5. Slow It Down - It’s always ok to say “I don’t know” or “Let me think about it? What about you?”. Flip the question back on the person. People generally have an answer for their question and probably want to share it.
6. Don’t Bring Music - if you’re going out for a social run, then you want to meet people, headphones can make you unapproachable and they also give you an easy excuse to not socialize
7. Don’t Bring Friends - Bringing your friend might seem like a good idea, but it can backfire.
Your friend may cancel and it’s easy to drop out because they can’t come.
It’s easier to talk to your friend than reach out to new people.
When talking to your friend it’s hard for others to approach you.
Instead, remember tip #3, reach out to the leader ahead of time, then you know someone who will help connect you.
If having a friend come along is a must for you, then be aware that you may fall into these traps.
At the Run Club:
8. Show Up Early - 5-10 mins early gives you time to chat and meet people.
9. Practice Makes You Better - Meeting people is a skill, so you need to practice to get better. You’ll probably mess up but it won’t be that bad. If it is, then you can move onto another run group. But that would be pretty tough and would make for a great story in a few years.
10. Be Approachable - Smiling makes you seem friendly. Use it to your advantage. With that being said, if you don’t want to talk to anyone, frown. But then maybe you need to question why you’re going out to a social run group and why you’re reading this post at all….
11. Read Body Language - If someone is making eye contact and/or smiling at you, it is a good sign they’re curious, go say hi. Or make eye contact and hope they’ve read this article.
12. Keep It Simple - Just say ‘Hi’, ask their name, say you’re new and have a question ready to go (See tip #1).
13. You’re New, It’s Ok to Play Dumb - Ask questions even if you already know the answers:
What happens next? This is my first time here.
Do I have to sign in? Check in with anyone?
What's the best way to meet people here?
14. Compliment People - It’s a great way to start a conversation.
I love your shorts, where did you get them?
Those gloves look so warm, I need some, where did you get them?
You look friendly and I’m new here and don't know anyone.
These are a great start to make the first social run go much smoother. If these don’t work, maybe it isn’t the run club for you or maybe it’s not as social as you’d like.
Got any tips? Got questions, post below!