I’ve always thought of myself as more of an independent runner, although the idea of running with a group always appealed to me on one level. Since I’ve always got specific half marathons that I’m training for, I always thought it would be too difficult to run with a group because they would ultimately have to conform to my running schedule or I would have to alter my schedule. I know other people run with local groups all the time and they’re training for a specific race that perhaps no one else in the group is training for, and they make it work.
Many years ago I joined a local running group and I went to the monthly meetings. They would bring in people to talk about running-related things and they would talk about specific runners in the group and events they recently completed. I don’t remember going to any running meet-ups with the group, though, and I never really clicked with any of the members. After being a part of the group for several months, I finally quit going to the meetings. This is probably not a great example since I never actually ran with any of these people.
Then I was approached in April 2018 by a blogger I know to join her online running group (well, she and her husband used to have separate blogs but they haven’t posted anything in quite some time). I agreed to join the RunninDownADream Squadrunner team. Squadrunner is an app with an easy premise. You run, import your data (linked to Strava, RunKeeper, Fitbit, MapMyRun, Runtastic, or Endomondo), answer the daily quiz for bonus points and boost a teammate. There is a daily mission that varies usually from 30 minutes, a specific number of miles, or a team mission where everyone from the team can contribute. If you complete the mission within 24 hours of it posting (and hit accept mission on the app before you run) you get bonus points on top of the points you receive for your run. In short, you get points for running, with distance, speed, and elevation factored in.
Teams are ranked by number of points and since joining the team, our group has consistently ranked in the “Golden Wolf” to “Silver Wolf” rankings. White Wolf is the number one team, followed by Diamond Wolf (teams 2-9), Golden Wolf (teams 10-29), Silver Wolf (teams 30-59), Bronze Wolf (teams 60-99), and so forth, down to Teddy Beta Wolf (teams 550-669). Teams are up to 20 people although some teams don’t have the full 20 people; teams with less people would obviously earn less points than teams with 20 people. Points accumulate for each month then go back to zero on the first day of every month, to re-start, but teams retain the medal they earned for that month. Our team currently has 6 gold medals and 7 silver medals.
I’ll have to admit being part of this team has influenced some of my runs, especially if I’m boosted by a teammate. Each team member can boost one person a day, giving them 10% more points while they’re boosted, for a maximum of 3 boosts from three different people for 30% more points for that run. You feel like you’re just wasting those extra points if you don’t run when you’re being boosted. It’s also made me run a bit faster if I’m boosted, wanting to get the full benefits from the boost.
Of course the best part of being part of this online running group has been the camaraderie. Over the past several months I’ve gotten to know most of the members fairly well, who are scattered throughout the US, Canada, and Europe. We chat on a private online message board using an app that we’ve all joined (different from the Squadrunner app). People sometimes post photos of their runs, running-related gear, or more personal things like photos from pets or vacations, or simply make comments about their day or events. Some are more chatty than others but I feel like it’s a space where we can all be ourselves and share pretty much anything we want. Our group is filled with some truly inspiring people and I’m happy to be a part of such a great group of people. I’ve long believed that runners are the best kind of people, and this group surely attests to that.
Probably some day I’ll join a local running group but in the meantime, I’ve got the Runnin’ Down a Dream team!
Are any of you part of a running group, either in person or online? If so, what have your experiences been like? Would you like to join our group?