Running Club Roundup: Philly Runners

A couple of weeks ago, I made an announcement.

And as promised, the Running Club Roundup blog series has officially begun!  I am so excited to share my experience with the Philly Runners, a group I have known about for years but have never had the opportunity to join.  So let me tell you all about them!

The Running Club Roundup begins...first stop, the Philly Runners! #run215 #runchat Click To Tweet

I went for my very first group run with the Philly Runners. Each week I'm trying a different running club in Philadelphia - check out the journey!

Running Club Roundup

This post is my inaugural Running Club Roundup, a new blog series that takes place on the first and third Thursday of each month!

The purpose of the Running Club Roundup is to share my experience of trying a different/new running club each week!  I will be sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly and introducing you to different types of running groups that may fit your running style.  Since I live in Philadelphia, I will be covering the 40+ running clubs in the Greater Philadelphia Area, in addition to any other running club I can get my hands on across the country!

I hope that this series will not only help me connect with more runners in my community and become a stronger runner but help you break out and explore the running clubs in your area!

The Philly Runners

As I reviewed my running schedule for the week, I saw that I had a couple of easy runs and a speed run to tackle before the Tough Mudder on Sunday.  According to my Running Club Roundup list, the Philly Runners have group runs on Tuesdays at 6:30 pm, so that works out perfectly!

Who Are They?

The Philly Runners are one of the most well-known running clubs in Philadelphia.  Formed in March 2002, Philly Runners are regularly seen participating in and supporting just about all of the local races.  This group is open to runners of all skill levels, from beginner to elite athlete and everything in between.

The Philly Runners have 3 regularly scheduled group runs each week:

  • Tuesdays at 6:30 pm – 4.4 miles on Kelly Drive, out and back
  • Thursdays at 6:30 pm – Speed work or hill work on Kelly Drive or Lemon Hill, respectively
  • Saturdays at 9:00 am – 8.4 mile “loop” on Kelly Drive and MLK Drive (8 am in the summer)

The group is free to join and meets year-round, rain or shine!

Running With The Group

The sneak photo I took for the pre-run announcements

The sneak photo I took during the pre-run announcements

I arrived at the famed Art Museum (aka Rocky) steps a little after 6:30 and saw a group of about 15-20 runners gathered.  There was a second group of runners congregated nearby so I was a bit unsure of what was going on – were the pace groups already set up?

I asked if they were the Philly Runners and I was in the right place.  Apparently the other pack of runners was a different group (that I’ll have to try out later!).  Seth, one of the leaders of Philly Runners, introduced himself and asked about my running plans for the night which was 4 miles, 11-minute pace.  He said that I’d probably have no one to run that pace with me, and my heart immediately sank.  He did say that it shouldn’t keep me from coming.

Meanwhile, it was time to get started and Rick (pictured above), another leader, gave some general introductions about the group, made announcements about upcoming volunteer events, and cautioned about running at night and sharing the trail with (dreaded) cyclists.  Then the pace groups were called: “Sub-7-minute pace, 7-7:30 pace…”  No one was slower than a 9:30 pace.  Wonderful.

Again, my heart sank and I set off on my solo “group run”.  Fortunately, Rick agreed to run with me for a little bit, even though he just completed the Steamtown Marathon a few days prior.  For our brief time together, I really enjoyed learning about him (he’s completed 34 marathons) and simply chit-chatting.  Once he stopped to walk, I was on my own.

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And it was tough.  I started to question if this running club roundup was just a silly idea.  I already feel insecure about my slower pace, and this just made me feel more aware of it (once upon a time I was a solid 10-minute runner…feels like a lifetime ago).  Since it was dark, I couldn’t tell who on the trail was from Philly Runners, but everyone seemed to be flying past me in both directions.

As I was getting to the halfway point, I saw Seth with some others and he waved to me…I was too upset to acknowledge it, but I really do appreciate it now.

Then when I finally made it back to the starting point and everyone was congregated around the steps waiting, Seth gave me a high-five.  In my negative, insecure state I actually imagined being welcomed with a condescending applause from the group for being the last person to come back.  Man did I beat myself up on that run…I was in a really dark place!

After the Run

Once everyone is finished with their run, every Tuesday night, the group heads over to The Bishop’s Collar for dinner and drinks and essentially takes over the bar.

I was still feeling a bit down post-run, but I wanted to have the full experience with the Philly Runners.  I chatted with Seth and his friend Brian on the way to the bar.  I really felt at ease and told them about my mission to run with all the running clubs in Philly.  It was cool to hear about “back in the day” when there were no running clubs in Philly.

I had a delicious Fordham Brewing Company Spiced Harvest Ale and a roast beef sandwich (with salad!) for dinner.  I evolved from meekly joining the group at the table to talking and laughing about baseball, politics, and running (of course).  I’m never so chatty with a group of people I don’t know!  I talked to runners who are training for the Rock and Roll Philly Half, the Philadelphia Half Marathon, and heard a guy talking about running a marathon in Tokyo.

What started out as a scary experience ended up with me heading home with a smile on my face.  Maybe this Running Club journey won’t be so bad after all!

The Verdict

If you are a speedier runner who likes to work hard and play hard, the Philly Runners is a great group for you to join for a run!  They are very organized with group leaders that are friendly and easy to talk to.

Because of my average run pace of 11 minutes, I’d never be able to keep up with this group on Tuesday nights.  I was pretty lonely on my evening run; I don’t want to run solo when I’m with a running group!  I need to find a running group where I’m not running alone.

But I really enjoyed talking to the members of the club after the run.  The group is friendly and diverse and I love how running brings us all together.

In short, I’ll check out Philly Runners again, but only when I’m doing speed work!

So that’s that, my first running club roundup with the Philly Runners – I really hope you enjoyed it!  Stay tuned to see who I run with next!

Have you ever been the “slow one” in a running group?  How did you get through it?

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40 thoughts on “Running Club Roundup: Philly Runners

  1. I think a running club can improve your running immensely. They teach you speed you would never do on your own most likely , and during their loop run you learn how to go the distance. I think it’s an awesome idea.

  2. I am a Philly blogger too! Technically I live on the main line but I still count myself as a Philly person 🙂 I’m so glad you are doing this running group round up! I am a slower pace runner as well so it’s great to hear from someone else that is the same. I would love to meet up some time!

  3. I kind of have that same issue in my hometown. My local Fleet Feet store has running groups every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday but I can never find anyone in my pace to run with. The runners are usually sub 9 or 12 min+ and I’m right in the middle lol

  4. I have to admit that I’m a little intimidated by running with a running club! I used to feel like I wasn’t a “real runner”, but I know that isn’t the case…but I guess I’m just kind of insecure! I may check out my local running club to do some training runs for Big Sur over the winter! They do have training runs every weekend, all year round!

  5. This is a really fun project for you! It probably does push you to get out there and constantly be the “new guy” all the time. Good for you- and for me to read it! Enjoy~

  6. Oh wow I think having to run solo in a group run defeats the purpose of the group. I’d have felt bad too. The running club here has a policy that somebody will always hang back with slower runners. Although I can see where that would kind of feel bad too.

  7. Totally loving the concept of testing out different running groups! Sometimes there’s hit and miss so having documentation helps narrow down a group to try!

  8. The fear of being the slowest runner in the group is what holds me back from joining in with running groups. I’ll either feel like I’m keeping everybody behind, or even worse, I’ll feel like I’m spending the entire run trying to keep up with the group. Neither is a feeling I want to experience.

    1. That is such a legitimate concern. There are definitely groups out there that advertise that “all are welcome”, but it can be a different story when you actually show up. Thankfully I was able to make the most of it. Maybe going with a friend that runs your pace would help put you at ease?

  9. Loved your article. There are a few running groups that are dedicated to slower paced runnners. (Of which I am one of.) I’m sure you will run into them (pun intended ) during your journey. I look forward to reading your future blogs. Until then, happy running.

  10. I’m glad you came out of it feeling a little more positive! I don’t typically run in groups because I have a very finnicky IT band so I have to be super cautious when I run. Even though I run at the same pace as some of the slower groups, I tend to take more walking breaks than they do so I either end up on my own or have someone holding back because they feel bad for me. Haha

      1. My apologies; I didn’t mean for that comment to come out like that. I am looking forward though to following you on this journey and check out the different running groups in the area, including groups that caters to slower runners as well. 🙂

  11. This is really cool. I don’t run with a running club but my mom does where she loves and it is awesome. They are all so close and tight knit. Super cool!

  12. Great post! I used to run religiously with a running group that did long runs on Sunday mornings together, then went for coffee afterwards. When I first joined I was one of the speedier runners, but then when I was pregnant I became one of the slower runners. I do agree that running by yourself at the back of the pack sure feels different than running alone as the lead of the pack, though it sounds like you made some new acquaintances. Kudos to you for putting yourself out there, that’s really hard!

  13. That’s too bad that there weren’t any other runners present at your pace. That kind of defeats the purpose of the group run. Hopefully you will find another club that has a wider variety of paces!

  14. I am intimidated with running a group too (I read a couple of my local ones have very speedy runners) – but it sounds like they were very supportive. I will just need to give it a try one day. People have said that they have seen much improvement by running with those speedier people.

  15. I had the same experience with the Philly Runners on a Tuesday night a year or so ago… I was at the back of the pack and ended up running alone, in the dark, which felt like a bad idea, so I never ran with them again. I’ve heard good things about their speed work nights though, so I’m glad you’re trying it out! I can’t wait to read blog posts for other running clubs in the city! (Even though I’ve left the city… I like to pretend like I’m still a Philadelphian haha)

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