An Open Letter To The New Girl At Run Club
By Kiera Smalls & Takia McClendon
First of all, give yourself a pat on the back. Despite feelings of nervousness, anxiety, and fear, you did it! You showed up (or plan to show up) to a City Fit Girls group run/event. You couldn't get a close friend to join you but you knew you couldn't put off your goals any longer. Welcome!
We see you. Standing there watching as runners start to crowd around and greet each other. We see the face of fear start to turn into confidence as you smile at other runners because everyone is so nice and so friendly. Nothing like what you originally thought! Then one of us comes over to you, introduces ourselves, and asks a few questions to get to know you a little more. You've either been following City Fit Girls on social media for a year now or just read about it online. You liked what you saw and believed that this was the community you belonged to. We agree.
Back to run club....
The co-leaders get the crowd to move in closer as they prepare to tell us the rules, route, and icebreaker for the day. But before they get started, they ask the question you were dreading - "who's new?" And while you wish you could keep your hand down, you've already told 3-4 people that you were new (plus there are a few other newbies sprinkled throughout the group that you haven't even met yet). The little voice in your head is starting to grow silent and suddenly, you feel proud to raise your hand because now you know that YOU ARE A PART OF THE CREW. Everyone cheers for you and then all is well with the world.
You see, many of us were in your shoes at some point. Whether it was two years ago when Run Club first started or just last week. There is always someone new looking to join a supportive community like City Fit Girls and make new friends. If you thought it was hard to make friends as an adult, it gets a little easier once joining City Fit Girls. And what does it take to be a part of the crew? Just showing up.
City Fit Girls was created to be a safe space where women could connect with other women to work towards a single common goal: to finish a run or workout together without having to worry about being made fun of for being “too slow” or having to live up to the unrealistic “expectations” that society has made for us. At City Fit Girls, you are free to be yourself.
Okay, rules, icebreaker and route instructions are complete and now it's time to run. Before we set out, co-leaders reiterate the most important rule:
NO RUNNER LEFT BEHIND.
We created this rule with newbies in mind. Whether you're new to the group and not running or new to running, in general, you won't have to go at it alone. EVER. Not only are our co-leaders strategically spread out throughout the run (we can get anywhere between 20-80 runners depending on the weather), we have runners who intentionally buddy up with others and/or make sure no one is alone. That's the community women like you have built.
You see, it's not as bad as you once thought and if you had a bad experience with another group we just want you to know that not all groups are created equal. Especially City Fit Girls ;)
So, you run your first 3 miles with the crew and everyone's almost done. You see that a few of the early finishers didn't just run and go home once done, they stayed and cheered on other runners as they "made their way to the finish line". So you join in too. This is what we do. This is what you'll do. Work towards accomplishing your goals while helping others reach theirs as well.
This is us. This is you. Welcome to City Fit Girls Run Club!
Pro Tips: If you're still feeling nervous about joining for your first time, here are four things you need to know:
1. When we say all-paces, we mean it. Unless noted otherwise, Wednesday runs are easy pace runs - meaning you should be able to hold a conversation. Our group run pace averages between 8:30 min /mile to 14:00 min/mile.
2. It's ok to come alone. If you're really interested in meeting new people, it's best to come alone anyway. When you have your bestie running with you, you won't take advantage of what the group has to offer.
3. Run at your comfortable pace. If you're normally an 11 min/mile, run with other people who run at your pace. There's no need to force yourself to run with the faster members. Remember, it's an easy run.
4. Rules are rules. We get it. Stopping at every red light or running without headphones may be challenging for you but these rules are in place for the safety of everyone in the group.
P.S. In addition to our fun run clubs, we have tons of training resources on cityfitgirls.com. Start here. We also meet up for races and events! Start here.
Kiera Smalls is the co-founder of City Fit Girls. She's a marathoner and wannabe chef who's passionate about helping women reach their fitness and weight loss goals. Follow her online at @kierasmalls.
Takia McClendon is the co-founder of City Fit Girls. She's a shoe expert and manager at a running store in Philadelphia and a Certified Level 1 USATF Coach. Follow her online at @takiamcclendon.
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