Let’s face it – we’re a unique bunch of people. Not everyone understands a runner’s drive to put in all of those miles each week. No, most of society can’t comprehend why we would put our bodies through such hardship. But we runners understand it perfectly – we do it for the shear joy of it. To us, a day without running is like a day without sunlight.
That’s why for the past 5 months I’ve spent nearly every waking second building a running community where runners can connect with one another and share their lives. And it’s grown into more than just some “club”; our close-knit community has become more like a family. With the use of a single hashtag (#VegRunChat), we can connect instantly with those that understand us best.
But #VegRunChat isn’t the only running community around. While we’re the only one promoting the use of plant-based fuels for better performance and health, there are many communities to help you connect with like-minded runners. Local running stores usually have clubs that you can join. Most of them offer free training, too. But the Internet has opened doors for those that may not have these opportunities. Today I wanted to go over the benefits of joining a community, no matter if it’s a local track club or if it’s internet-based. Whatever your choice, the benefits of meeting other runners is priceless.
1. Learn Tips – Each week on #VegRunChat we share tips and techniques to improve performance and stave off injuries. And in a local running community you should expect the same. Although I sometimes like to think I know it all, I learn something new just about every day. And it’s all thanks to the runners I’ve connected with online and in my local community. Learning from runners’ past experiences has even saved me money; money that I would have spent on doctors visits, nutritional supplements, or purchasing gimmicky running tools.
2. Discover New Products – As you know, runners are probably the biggest suckers for athletic gear. And that’s okay – most of the things we want can truly help us with our performance. Besides, running is the cheapest sport around, right? Believe it or not, there are tons of products out there that you may not even know about. Just this past week I learned that there are lights I can attach right to my knuckles (knuckle lights). How cool is that!? And there are tons of other companies I’ve come into contact with since the creation of #VegRunChat. Speaking of, each week on the chat we offer giveaway prizes to our community. This week we’re giving away three sets of Swiftwick Compression Socks. There’s another reason!
3. Develop Long-Lasting Relationships – Over the last year, I’ve met more people than ever. And it’s all because I stay connected with those that share the same passion. While some runners come and go, many have become great friends. And being that I do most of my connecting online, I now know people all over the country. It’s really quite beautiful. With the use of social media, I can connect with them anytime I want. We share ideas, thoughts, and questions on a regular basis, continually growing together. I can’t wait to begin traveling so that I can meet some of these online runners in person and share a few miles together.
4. Stay Motivated – While most of us don’t suffer from lack of motivation, others do. And joining a running community can help give you an added push. Letting people in and telling them about your goals also allows you to be accountable to someone. If I’m training for a race, I might skip a couple of cross-training days. Pair up with someone, and you won’t miss a single workout!
Also, seeing others reach their goals can inspire you to set your own. I watched numerous runners complete marathon after marathon before I decided to give it a go. Seeing them reach such a feat (with what appeared to be ease) helped me to believe in myself.
5. Share Your Runs – This may be thought of as bragging, and well… maybe it is. But I believe that sharing your PRs with an audience can give you a healthy boost. It’s only natural that we want to share our accomplishments with others. And as long as we’re doing it in a healthy way, it’s completely fine. When I finished the New River Marathon, I told my friends, family, and all of the communities I’m a member of. It wasn’t to gloat, but more to express my love for the sport. Furthermore, knowing that I had an audience to share it with gave me the drive I needed to finish the race with a decent time. I only hope that I do the same for them.
Now that you’ve seen the benefits of joining a running community, you may be wondering which one to join. As I mentioned earlier, some shoe stores (like Fleet Feet) have their own communities that work together to achieve goals – whether it be a 5k or full marathon. Also, many shoe brands have their own teams that they support. And there are a plethora of online resources: forums, chats, communities, etc. Some are geared towards basic running and some focus on Ultra distances or Triathlons.
If you’re a vegan or vegetarian runner, and looking for an online resource, I strongly recommend that you join our plant-based running community at vegrunchat.com. We incorporate nutrition and running into one group, and feel that this is the way it should be done. We have Twitter chats every Sunday night at 9pm (ET) using the #VegRunChat hashtag, connecting runners from all over the globe. Being a part of this community has changed my life in many ways. That’s exactly why I wanted to pass it along to you. We hope you will join us and see what our community can do for you.
Photo Courtesy: Elliotbuttons/Deviantart