I’m linking up with Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness for the Friday Five 2.0. Today’s topic is all about running family and friends. Perfect because I received this question from a reader on my Ask Me Anything post:
Do you usually prefer to run with a group or alone?
The answer? Both!
I think there is value to running alone. First, you’ll be running the race alone (unless you have a pacer). That means you need to be able to rely on yourself for pacing and mental strength. Running alone is great me time; I can unpack thoughts and events, sharpen my mental mindset, or enter a zen flow state. I advocate for doing certain runs solo in order to develop that mental muscle.
On the other hand, I love running with others and immersing myself in the running community. Being part of various fitness groups in Chicago has lead me to build strong friendships, go on runcations, and learn so much about the sport. I spend time every day with people from the running community and my life is enriched because of that. There are certain times when I need to run with others for motivation, for fun, for a chance to change up the monotony of running. So for today’s Friday Five, I’m choosing to write about my 5 favorite running groups in Chicago. They’re like family!
5 Running Groups in Chicago Worth Checking Out
EDGE Athlete Lounge
Ok. So, this isn’t really a running group. This is more of a… club? Gym? Mecca for athletes? If you read my past blog post about EDGE, you’ll know that it’s a space where athletes can come together to train and recover. The community there is so welcoming and supportive. Since becoming a member, I’ve met other runners. At least once a week I run with someone from EDGE, which is why I consider it a running group.
Members at EDGE introduced me to Chicago area trail running, and were the ones to give me the final push into the ultra world. They were also the reason I entered the Earth Day 50k. I can always find someone to run with from EDGE, which makes training so much better. We run together and then go recover together – it’s a win-win! Check them out for a recovery session – and meet new friends for future runs!
Ok. Again, this isn’t a running group. Man, I’m really doing a great job with this 5 running groups thing. November Project is a free fitness group in Chicago in which athletes of any sport as well as non-athletes, young, old, in shape, out of shape, ANYONE can show up for a workout. I started going to NP in 2015, when I was really struggling with my eating disorder and just needed some support and love. I just showed up one day and was greeted with lots of hugs and high-fives. It was wonderful.
In these two years of attendance, I’ve met a lot of new running buddies. Because of November project I’ve completed a 100 mile relay, Madison to Chicago Ragnar, raced in Canada, New York, and Tokyo. And soon ECS Wisconsin 50k! The community there is wonderful and I highly recommend joining us for a workout! They meet Wednesday mornings at the totem pole on the Lakefront Trail at 6:28am and Friday mornings down at the Bean at 6am.
Now this IS a running group in Chicago. It was actually the very first Chicago running group I went to, even before I moved to Chicago! (Yes, naturally, I scoped out a running group on weekends when I was in Chicago leading up to my move) A core part of the group meets all year round to run, but most come during the summer for Chicago Marathon training. I used to be the 7:30 pace leader along with Matt, but now that I am in the ultra world I’ve stopped. There are groups that range from 8:00 per mile and up, and the best part, it’s FREE to join! They meet at the Clocktower near the Waveland tennis courts at 6:30am in the summer and during the “off season” they meet at 8am.
Fleet Feet Sports is a running company with multiple locations around the Chicago area. I usually go there to buy running clothes, socks, or other gadgets. When I was training for Boston in 2015 and 2016, I joined their Boston Bound training program. They also have a racing team to join for a small cost. With a membership, you get race discounts and monthly pint nights. The racing team meet Wednesdays for speed work. I’m part of the racing team, and while I don’t go to many of their speed workouts, I still do some of my midweek easy runs with people I’ve met from there. If you’re not looking to pay, Fleet Feet also hosts free fun runs from their stores a few nights a week.
I’ve only participated in a few Rogue Runners events, but I’ve always had fun! Rogue Runners is a free group that meets on Tuesdays throughout the year (except during when CARA has it’s six-series). They meet at a different bar each week, running between 3-8ish miles, and then staying for beer and food afterwards. I like going for the easy runs and the opportunity to catch up with old friends or meet new ones! They also throw a great Christmas Party!
Those are the 5 running groups in Chicago that I’ve tried out. There are LOTS of other Chicago running groups, but those are my 5 favorite ones that I’ve actually gone to and met other runners.
Now it’s your turn! Leave a comment below and tell me: Do you prefer running alone or with a group? What are some of groups that you run or workout with?