You get your daily coffee fix from the best bulletproof spot on the block, and when it comes to workout apparel, your opaque-leggings-only standards are sky-high. And these days, you can afford to be just as picky about who you run with as you are about where you get your morning smoothie.
Open-to-the-public running clubs are no longer just for big-city runners. Today, there are cool clubs from Boston to the Bay Area, and literally everywhere in between. So just because you live in a lesser-known area doesn’t mean you have to fly solo.
Plus, most run clubs have evolved to be more than just sweat-focused groups. (Fun fact: There are more than 30 running clubs on Strava, the social networking site for athletes, that have the word “beer” in them!) So whether you’re a weekend warrior or are looking for early morning track — and pancake — buddies, here are 11 run clubs that’ll fit the bill (and probably won’t charge you one, either).
11 Run Clubs You’ll Want to Join Now
City: New York, NY
The run-down: Resident Runners wants you to run fast — and for tacos.
Why we love it: The crew hosts an open run every Thursday at 6:30 p.m., where the goal is to get fast — while remembering that “fast” is a relative term. There are no pace groups, just the non-intimidating message to run your fast every week. But the real draw is the group’s five-mile Saturday morning taco runs in Brooklyn, which, unsurprisingly, end at a local taco spot.
City: Los Angeles, CA
The run-down: This group is all about hitting the local trails — instead of LA’s smog-filled streets.
Why we love it: Navigating trails can be intimidating if you’re running alone. Between confusing trail markers and tricky footing, heading off-road is best done in the company of a seasoned trail runner. Enter Coyote Running, which hosts free weekly runs in the Santa Monica mountains, every Thursday at 6:10 a.m. (The exact location changes each week, so check the group’s Facebook page for specifics.) Expect to be one of up to 50 runners covering anywhere from three to nine miles on challenging, hilly terrain. The group also offers paid weekend training runs and Tuesday night runs — perfect if you’re gearing up for an upcoming race and could use some support and structure. “These runs will never be easy, but we will all get stronger together,” says Coyote Runner founder and head coach Jimmy Dean Freeman.
City: Dallas, TX
The run-down: This November Project-style group isn’t just for runners. The focus here is free total-body fitness — with a side of running.
Why we love it: The group meets on weekday mornings at various locations around Dallas, from the Winspear Opera House to the Continental Avenue Bridge. The workouts always vary, and the members are fun, loud, and ultra welcoming. Think burpees and bodyweight exercises with a side of hugs and high fives. Your legs will definitely be sore, and your voice may be, too.
City: Portland, OR
The run-down: Expect a super-social workout environment, complete with gorgeous routes, bagels and beer.
Why we love it: This group meets twice per week (Tuesdays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays at 9 a.m., both at The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium) for runs around PDX’s city streets and on the luscious Forest Park trails. When the workout ends, it’s common for runners to stick around to socialize — or to head to a nearby bar or bagel spot. Because, well, you’ve earned it.
City: Raleigh, NC
The run-down: Did someone say beer?
Why we love it: BBRC is a brewery-supported running club that’s been around since 2011. The Tuesday evening and Sunday afternoon group runs start and end on the patio at Big Boss Brewing Company. Each run kicks off with a meet and greet, followed by a fun run along the Capital Area Greenway. (Distance options include a 3.1-mile, 5-mile, and 6-mile route.) The beer drinking part is optional, but the taproom offers up tempting weekly specials for the runners — as well as water to keep that post-run hydration in check. Extra incentive: Some weeks you just may find a local food truck parked outside the brewery ready to feed hungry runners. Dogs and strollers are welcome to join, too. (Though leave the boozing to the adult humans.)
City: Los Angeles, CA
The run-down: This crew believes the best way to get a feel for local L.A. culture is on the run, of course. Their motto: “the art of running for the love of Los Angeles.” In other words, you’re guaranteed a solid Instagram shot mid-run.
Why we love it: Whether you’re visiting L.A. or you’re a local, BlacklistLA wants to show you the lesser-known sights and sounds of the city — by running to them…at night. The group’s weekly four-mile runs take place at 10 p.m. and lead runners to see new pieces of street art each week. All paces are welcome, and the goal isn’t to run fast — it’s to see something new and cool. Flashlight-equipped volunteers make sure the runners stay safe along the way, and stopping for photos by the artwork is practically mandatory.
City: Flagstaff, AZ
The run-down: Local professional runners help coach — and run alongside — runners of all ages and abilities.
Why we love it: “It’s not unusual to have a national or world-class runner out there encouraging beginner adults and everyone in between,” says Team Run Flagstaff member Erin Strout. Plus, TRF is open all abilities and is super encouraging of newbies. The six-week “Step Into Running” program is an unintimidating, totally guided way to take the first step, followed by many, many more. The group meets Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. at the NAU SkyDome for track workouts under the guidance of seasoned pros.
City: Minneapolis, MN
The run-down: From beginner-specific runs to post-run pancakes, this squad’s mission is to keep running fun, friendly and free.
Why we love it: We’re always down to support a local running store, and Mill City Running is all about creating and fostering a strong community. Brand-new runners can hit up the Beginner’s Group Run on Tuesdays at 6 p.m.—where all paces are welcome, including walkers, and the focus is on new runners. Meanwhile, athletes of all ages and paces (up to 80 people per workout!) flock to the All Abilities Group Run on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. But the real sweet stuff happens on Flapjack Fridays, when the 6:30 a.m. group run ends back at the store with a pancake breakfast.
City: Omaha, NE
The run-down: It’s as simple as: “We run for beer, and you should, too.”
Why we love it: Search #willrunforbeer on Instagram, and you’re bound to find a few Scriptown Running Club members. Another motivated-by-beer group, the all-abilities-welcome Scriptown Running Club meets every Thursday at 6 p.m. at Scriptown Brewing Company. The casual group heads out for a 45-minute “run, jog, or walk” before returning to the brewery for “the best craft beers in the state.”
City: Akron, OH
The run-down: This group isn’t about personal fitness — it’s a volunteer group that runs with local shelter dogs.
Why we love it: This “running with rescues” group is made up of a group of runners who volunteer to take local rescue dogs out for runs. (Because pups need exercise, too!) Leave your watch and pace guide at home — your time on the run with the dogs is about making sure they get an outlet for their energy. And trust us, these precious puppies deserve an hour or two away from the stress of kennel life. (Bonus: They’re adoptable!)
11. Brighton Bangers
City: Brighton, MA
The run-down: Their mission says it all — to be “the friendliest running club in one of Boston’s most welcoming neighborhoods.”
Why we love it: Members will be the first to tell you that this group is “wicked fun and friendly,” and that it’s more of a family than simply a running group. Oh and the group’s catchphrase is “come bang with us.” (“Don’t even ask,” the founders insist.) This everyone-is-welcome crew meets for group runs on Saturdays at 8:30 or 9:30 a.m. (depending on the season) and Wednesdays at 7 p.m., along with the occasional pop-up boot camp, track workout, or dive bar hangout. The group, which also hosts its own World’s Greatest 5K in the fall, was created in 2012 and has grown to more than 450 members. (NBD.)