New York has more running clubs and teams than we could ever count. That’s great a thing if you’re a runner who needs peer pressure when it comes to pavement pounding or training for a half marathon. But it’s also overwhelming.
“It seems like everyone has a team or a group to train with. The number of run clubs is enormous,” confirms Terence Gerchberg, expert run coach and Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp trainer. (NYRR has a pretty all-inclusive list, here.)
So how do you choose? “The advice I give everyone is to try it before joining,” Gerchberg says. “See if you connect with some of the members, because if you don’t, you’re not going to do well. And somewhere local is always better, because you actually need to show up.”
To help you get started, we sorted through some of the more popular clubs—with help from Gerchberg and Gia Alvarez, the running coach and marathoner behind Run, Gia, Run—and pinpointed a few worth highlighting.
Here are 13 great run clubs worth checking out:
Lululemon: Free weekly runs at each Lululemon store. “These are lead by their run ambassadors, like me,” says Gerchberg, “so the coaching level is very high, in my humble opinion.” Perk: they email you the day before with what to expect each upcoming workout. Various times, all store locations. www.lululemon.com
Meatpacking District Running Club: The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers and apparel company Icebreaker joined forces to start this weekly club that takes runners through a one-hour long coached workout in the Meatpacking District and along the Hudson River. Sports Center trainers split people into two groups based on run length. Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m., Meatpacking District, www.chelseapiers.com
Niketown Running Club: Led by Nike running coaches, this club, which meets three times per week at the 57th Street store, splits into several groups by pace and distance and sometimes includes drills like intervals, hills, or sprints, mostly in Central Park. (There’s also a run club at the Flatiron location.) Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:30 p.m., Saturdays, 9:00 a.m., Midtown East, www.meetup.com
North Brooklyn Runners: This Williamsburg and Greenpoint running community hosts several runs a day of varying paces, distances, and levels. (Think McCarren park and over the Williamsburg Bridge.) And while it’s free, the club’s no joke—its members finish lots of races, and it ranked at the top of NYRR’s standings in 2012. Multiple times and locations, www.northbrooklynrunners.org
Paragon Sports: Free weekly, all-level runs led by a Paragon coach and pacers leave from the Union Square store. Runs vary between pacing, distance, and intervals and the day’s workout is posted on the group’s Facebook page in advance. Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m, Flatiron, www.paragonsportsrunning.com
CLUBS WORTH PAYING FOR
Brooklyn Road Runners: This group meets four times a week to run through picturesque Prospect Park and Park Slope on fun runs, long runs, and for speed work. Membership also includes discounted rates for races and training workshops. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:45 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays, 9 a.m., Prospect Park, $20 per year, www.brooklynroadrunners.org
Central Park Track Club (CPTC) New Balance: Founded in 1972 and now more than 350 members strong, this is one of the city’s best competitive running clubs. Over the years, its runners have gone on to national championships and Olympic trials. Group coached workouts take place in Central Park, Van Cortlandt Park, East River Track, and Colombia Track. Various times and locations, $125 per year, www.centralparktc.org
Dashing Whippets: This club has more than 400 members and the most terrain diversity—its members run everywhere from along the Palisades and through Central Park to the East River and Prospect Park. Runners of all levels are welcome, but they’re encouraged to have a specific training goal. Various times and locations, $20 per year, www.dashingwhippets.org
Exceed Physical Culture Track Club: Gina Alvarez recommends this structured six-week Upper East Side club, run by the neighborhood’s boutique fitness playground. “Coach Marianna Biribin takes you through a series of exercises and runs to build strength and endurance, including tempo runs, endurance runs, hills, and more.” Members work at their own pace within the group. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:30 p.m., Wednesdays, 9:00 a.m. One run/week: $110, two runs/week:$130, three runs/week: $150, starts April 2, www.exceedphysicalculture.com
Galloway Running Club: Former Olympic runner and record-setter Jeff Galloway leads this club that features weekly runs in Central Park, email tips, a copy of his book, nutrition and running clinics, and a subscription to Runners’ World. Saturdays, 8:00 a.m., Columbus Circle, $159 for six months, www.gallowaynyc.org
JackRabbit: This go-to sports store offers organized group training programs that leave from all seven of its New York locations, from beginner clinics that work up to a 5K, to “Targeted Training for a Faster Finish.” Each store also hosts free meetup run clubs at least once a week. Various times and locations, prices vary, www.jackrabbitsports.com
Reservoir Dogs: This multi-level, midsize club meets four times a week to run different routes in Central Park, all four miles or longer. Perks include a members-only message board, guided training programs, team swag, and discounts to several local running stores. Bonus: The Saturday run is usually followed by group brunch. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 7:30 p.m., Saturdays, 9:00 a.m. (summer), 9:30 a.m. (rest of year), Central Park, $35 yearly membership fee, www.thereservoirdogs.com
Urban Athletics: “These guys are the real deal,” says Alvarez, and Gerchberg agrees. The club’s training programs are operated by Jerry and Cara Macari, certified coaches and well-known runners on the NYC scene, boasting NYRR “Master Runner of the Year” titles. Programs range from marathon training to speed and form intensives. Various times and locations, $15-$650 for group sessions, www.urbanathleticsnyc.com
Are you running in one of these clubs? Or got one you love? Tell us in the Comments, below!