by Dallas DeVries
Let's be honest, once you start adulting it can be hard to meet new friends outside of your work environment. Once you hit your mid to late 20s I think it's challenging for even the most extroverted out there. The bar is not exactly the best place to meet friends. Where does that leave most of us? Our hobbies. Luckily, running can be one of the most social and easy ways to meet people of all ages and interests. Even the most socially awkward of our clan develop great friendships with the people we sweat with week after week. We bond at track workouts, trail runs, races, volunteering, award ceremonies, club banquets, and other fun runs like wine and beer gatherings. Of course, let's not forget those 3-hour long runs (those training for a marathon can relate!). We bond in the blizzards, in the sweltering heat, in the pouring rain. Whether it’s for a few minutes or three hours rarely do you get a chance to so naturally chat and get to know someone while doing something you both enjoy. Of course, none of this would be possible without a vibrant local running community. Luckily the Capital District is chock full of several great clubs, teams, races, and social groups where you can try new things, meet new people, and develop new friendships.
Over the last 8 years I’ve met hundreds of different people from running. Many friendships have developed, ranging from acquaintances all the way to great friends. Across the board they have helped me get through tough times and consistently motivate me with their achievements, dedication and perseverance in our sport and life. Where better to talk out your problems and aspirations, learn about the next beer mile or Ragnar race, and share running advice than on a run with friends? It also opens your eyes into how diverse the people in our sport can be and to the things we enjoy about it.
Of course, I would be remiss without talking about another reason you might want to use running in a more social context: dating. Not something I thought much about until I became unexpectedly divorced and was forced back into the singles scene AND MET MY MOST AWESOME GIRLFRIEND (ok she is my editor and she is pretty awesome). Again, your options are bars or online dating apps or websites. Useful tools, but perhaps not the most ideal way to meet someone. Go out and do what you love, get to know people and you never know what might happen!
You might say, “OK Dallas, that’s nice, but where do you find all these clubs and, more importantly, where is this beer and wine you speak of?” Also, “how far or fast do I need to run to be with these groups?” I’ll answer the second question first. It depends. However, if you can generally run 3-5 miles you can probably do most of these with no problem. The pace question will vary greatly depending on the makeup and attendance of the group or event on any given day. Most of them have a very wide range of abilities where your pace doesn’t matter. For example, you can take as long as you want to run the Shmaltz beer mile course and then come back and socialize. If you are worried, reach out on Facebook and get the scoop ahead of time.
Albany Running Exchange (ARE): With a member calendar event page you can scan through and find multiple runs posted almost every day of the week to join at different pace or post your own. Additionally, they put on numerous themed series, events, and races that are cheap or free throughout the year including several with BBQs and breweries at the end! Really a fantastic club to meet new people and have a lot of run.
Tuesday Track Series (recommend $2 cost per week for track use)
Thursday Summer Trail Series
Monday Spring Trail Series
Cost: $10 a year
Stryders: Based in Saratoga this group has numerous fun themed runs during the week with people of all varying abilities and ages.
Monday Trail Series
Saturday Recreational runs
Group Calendar of member activities (I haven’t actually seen this yet)
Cost: $15 for individual, $20 for families (per year)
Shmaltz: Runners seem to enjoy beer and so began the Shmaltz Wednesday 5k fun run. It’s pretty simple, you run and then enjoy $3 pints and chat with your fellow runners. Also, the home of the beer mile and an official 5k race with some sweet swag.
Cost: Free! Or however many pints you would like to enjoy...
Totally Most Informal Running Club Ever: The name says it all. Find them on meetup.com. They like to make running fun. Themed events and runs pretty much every day of the week. I did a themed Bastille Day wine run in Thacher Park just a few months ago followed by a BBQ. Just one example of the many unique ways they spice up running.
Capital District Training: This is strictly a Facebook group to post group runs or find runs to join. No affiliations, just running!
HMRRC: This club supports and puts on some of the biggest and most competitive races in the area. They also put on the Winter Series, which is free to members and is a great way to get everyone out together in the dead of winter. They are passionate about supporting running in the area.
Anniversary/Distinguished Service Race
Website: You are on it!
Cost: ($12 for individuals, $15 for couple or family)
Of course this is by no means an exhaustive list. There are also several programs/clubs/coaches that have a great community of runners but can cost hundreds each year that I didn’t include. These are the just the ones I have run across (no pun intended) and are also either free or very inexpensive to join ($15 a year) and either have or promote recurring runs. These are also not mutually exclusive, join one of them or join them all like me!
If you have any recommendations to add to this list, please do. There is a Comment section at the bottom of this article.