Leave The Stroller at Home- Running Groups for Parents

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By: Andi Ripley

Don’t get me wrong- I love my running stroller. The feeling of barreling down the trail with the double-wide in full sail, boys singing along to Disney show tunes- it’s great! But let’s be honest, a gal needs a break from pushing an extra fifty-pound load (even if they’re darn cute). Staying healthy and sane requires jumping the ever-present hurdle of childcare. Forming your own running group might be more rewarding than you think!

I was born into the tradition of running groups. They are part of the fabric of my life. My mom has always been a social runner. Both through her example and my own experience, I have seen the incredible value of a running group.

This past year I started a running group like the one my mom had growing up: a group of moms who wanted to run stroller-free. It’s a simple concept.

How does it work?

  1. Find a group.
  2. Split the group in half.
  3. Half watch the kids while the other half runs- then switch.

Genius, right?

The group my friends and I began this year has been pretty consistent in meeting most weeks. We don’t have many in the group, so sometimes we are down to only two. But even with only two, we take turns running. While we are mostly a group of moms, spouses have occasionally joined, too.

I have made some amazing new friends in this group, and strengthened existing ones. One friend from this group has also become a very compatible long run buddy for me. I sometimes have the tendency to isolate myself. These women revitalize me and my kids. I am very grateful for companionship. I attribute some of my success getting personal bests postpartum to the blessing of side-by-side time with some amazing people.

Why start a running group?

  • Run outside without a stroller or kids on bikes.
  • Grow friendships.
  • Playdate for the kids.
  • Accountability and consistency.
  • Run varying routes.
  • Run varying paces.
  • It’s free.

The playdate part of the value of a group is exceptional. My kids love going to running group. The other moms have expressed the same delight. Our kids are forming friendships which adds to the beauty of consistently meeting together.

What to consider?

Here are some considerations when forming a group:

  • Location. Our running group all live within a 5 mile radius. This close proximity makes it very convenient to meet with one another. The school age kids also know one other from school. I meet with other friends who live further away, but having an area specific running group aids in the chance for success.
  • Group up. Discuss if you will rotate running buddies each week. Fitness and goals differ from runner to runner. Your group also may decide who runs together based on pace.
  • Communication. I made a Facebook group, but realized not everyone uses messenger regularly. Talking about the best method of communication would be helpful.
  • Meeting Spot. We take turns hosting and figure it out on a weekly basis.
  • Flexibility. Because our group is small, we make plans for the day on a weekly basis. As the group grows, we intend to choose a consistent time and day.

Any questions? Do you have a parents’ running group? What works for you? Check out West Michigan Running Groups to further grow your community. We have an article about how to find a running partner.

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Live life. Run.

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