How to Start a Running Club

Running clubs offer an excellent opportunity for runners of different backgrounds and fitness levels to share training tips, participate in races, and socialize. More importantly, running clubs allow runners to find other runners. However, when local running clubs don’t exist-or don’t meet current needs – it is up to the motivated runner to start one.

Like all projects, getting started can be the hardest part. Begin by deciding exactly what type of running club you want. Is it to be for adults only? Will race walkers and less-experienced runners be allowed? Will the club focus primarily on road racing or cross country racing?

Next, begin looking for people who might be interested in joining your club. Start with people you know. Do you pass the same runners everyday in the park? Instead of the obligatory wave or “hello” as you pass each other at the bend, stop and ask runners to join your club. Post signs in fitness centers, health food stores, and the local YMCA. Call high school and college track coaches. Oftentimes, these are the people who can provide the longest list of interested runners (and great tips, too!).

Once you have a group of people agreeable to starting a running club, now it’s time to hold your first meeting. Coordinate a time and place for the meeting that is as convenient for as many members as possible. If there is a large group, booking a room at a restaurant or another large venue may be necessary. Churches, local schools, and fitness centers are also possibilities.

Have running club members suggest potential names for the club. This is a chance to be creative, so pick a name that is fun and suitable for the group. However, if there are other running clubs in your area, be careful not to use a name that is already in use. A simple vote among members present at the meeting is all it takes to give your group a name that is acceptable to everyone (or almost everyone).

Obviously, there are almost a limitless number of positions and officers that a running club could require. Club size, purpose, and resources will help determine how many and what types of officers your club needs. In addition, positions may initially be given out to volunteers or directly appointed by other members-rather than voting.
It is up to members of the running club to collectively determine what officers will be needed and how to choose them. Some examples of positions are:

� President
� Treasurer
� Secretary
� Fundraiser Coordinator
� Social Coordinator
� Race Coordinator
� Club Coach
� Newsletter/Handbook Coordinator

During this meeting, members should decide exactly what type of running club is to be formed. Is your club to be just a casual group of people who get together on a regular basis and run? If so, then plan locations and running times. For example, you might decide to meet every Saturday morning at 8:00 to run at the local park. However, if your club has grander plans (such as holding racing events, etc.), plan what types of events to sponsor, possible locations, etc� There is no need to go into great detail here, as this is just your first meeting. However, do make sure to have the proper coordinators in place to organize every aspect of the events (fundraising, coaching, etc.).

At the first meeting-or sometime later-your running club may want to formulate a handbook for present and future members. Include your mission statement and any bylaws that you feel are relevant or important to your club and its members. For example: Are member required to attend a certain number of runs per year to remain active in the running club? Do running club members receive discounts on racing events? What are the club dues?

If your running club has over ten members, it is imperative that you find an effective way to inform them of upcoming events and club news. A newsletter will ensure that members receive information in a timely manner. It can be as simple as a monthly post card, or as sophisticated as a small newspaper-complete with pictures and articles. Your club size member expertise will help determine this.

Another way to instantaneously provide members with information is through a website. Consider starting a webpage so that members may periodically look for information at a time convenient for them. Have important information that just missed the newsletter? A website is the perfect place for it! And don’t worry if no one in your running club knows how to start a web page. There are many resources that will help you start and maintain your own web connection.

So now your running club has officers, a mission, prospective races, and a handbook. Everything is in place but the reason behind the running club-running! Plan runs/walks that are as convenient to all members as possible. Are there a large number of runners who live across a wide area? Then perhaps scheduling a number of runs per week (rather than just one) at different locations and times will cater best to your club’s needs. Let the members decide.

No longer are you the lone runner of the neighborhood on cold Saturday mornings. You have a whole group of people with the same interest in running that you do. Together with the other members and officers, you will decide what direction your running club will take. Whether your running club has only a small group of dedicated runners, or encompasses a large group of people from varied backgrounds, you now have a social group that shares the same passion you do-running. Now go run!

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