Over the years, I’ve connected with so many runners, both in person and virtually. Who else, than a fellow runner, understands your need to talk about the time you ran a marathon or an injury you’re struggling with? Who else gets that you need an early night before that intimidating long run? And who else knows that buying a new running top is often a need and NOT a want as some might assume? When I run with friends, I love the conversations we have but also the silence as we struggle up a hill, comforted only by our sense of togetherness. I love that nothing keeps you more accountable than knowing you have to meet up for a run… But what are some of the ways you can connect with runners especially if you’re new to running or to a town?
Five Tried and Trusted Ways To Connect With Runners
Join A Running Club. Several runners belong to running clubs and most I’ve talked to express how amazing it is. Some of them knew a few runners before they joined the club but those who didn’t have since made lifelong friends. Running clubs provide incredible opportunities for bonding but are also great if you don’t feel safe running alone or you’re looking for accountability. If you’re a naturally shy person or not confident about your pace/ability, it might feel intimidating to join a club but you’ll quickly discover someone whose pace or personality is similar to yours. If you prefer running alone but sometimes need that extra motivation, most clubs are happy to welcome you for a few random runs. For runners in Gaborone, here are some great clubs to try out: Gaborone Striders, Untamed Runners, Fearless Fitness Club, Runwidit and The Pack. All these clubs have social media pages sharing their weekly schedules.
Participate In Races. Most of my friends sign up for the same races so I’m almost guaranteed to see them there. But over the years, I’ve made several new connections with runners at races. Runners love talking about running so conversations are easy! A couple of times, I’ve even met people on the race course with a similar pace to mine and we’ve ended up meeting later for training runs. So races, especially small local ones, are a great place to make connections.
Through Other Running Friends. I’ve met so many new running friends from old running friends. With more and more introductions, my running circle has naturally widened. Some of them even run at my pace and we’ve enjoyed many training runs and races together.
On Social Media. Having a public Facebook and Instagram profile to promote my blog has meant that I have also connected with runners through these channels. Many in Gaborone but also several from around the world who have even guest blogged for me, sharing their personal running stories (for recent examples, go here, here and here). Although I haven’t met many of them in person – we’re always encouraging each other online, and during the pandemic, our bonds were solidified even further. I know when I’m struggling to head out for a run, all I need to do is look at my IG feed and there is a motivational message that gets me going.
Blogging [Or Following Blogs]. When I began running, I wanted some kind of external accountability. I was too shy, embarrassed even, to share my runs on Facebook or Instagram. So I decided to start blogging. This allowed me to share my journey with complete strangers and I could also follow (and learn from) their journeys. Early on, I stumbled on a link-up hosted by Wendy and Holly. All of a sudden my world opened up to a group of amazing women who have religiously read every twist and turn in my running journey and have become true friends. About a year or two in, other runners started reaching out to me through my blog, some from Botswana and many from outside. Some just share their own personal stories while others have specific questions about how to start running or where to run in Gaborone.
Just a few weeks ago, a Robert from Philadelphia reached out to me saying he would be visiting Gaborone for a couple of days, would I be able to run with him or connect him to a club? The timing didn’t work for me but Ditiro managed to take him for a run on Monday morning after the school drop-off! By complete coincidence, his guesthouse was on the same street as our kids’ school so it worked out perfectly. Ditiro took him through the Main Mall, over the Bus Station Flyover, into the CBD to greet The Three Chiefs and back again. They shared stories about running, their families, work, and life. It was such a great experience for both of them and we’ll definitely take him up on his offer for a run in Philly, if we are ever in that part of the world!
Although I mostly run alone as I love the flexibility of switching up my schedule, there are days when I just want someone else to run with, whether it’s for motivation, catching up or mutual suffering! If you’re new to running or if you’re visiting a new town, I hope some of these approaches help you to connect with others.
Have you connected with runners using one of these approaches? Has anyone contacted you through social media or your blog asking for a run? What is the strangest way you have met a running companion? If you belong to a club in Gaborone not listed here, please let me know!