10 Tips to Start a Running Club Online

photo of a runner's feet tying their shoes

You are laced up and ready to hit the pavement. Great! Take your workout a step further by starting an online running club to encourage healthy habits, make new friends and achieve your goals. Getting a virtual running group off the ground is easier than you think. Follow these simple steps and jog happily into the sunset. 

  1. Choose Your Crew - First, find a few people to help get your club off to a great start. Reach out to work colleagues, parenting groups, friends at the dog park, neighbors on your street or after-work happy hour buddies. Share your vision with a few friends and ask for help spreading the word. Create a sign up to organize your new group and text the link to people.
  2. Plan a Kickoff Event - Host a virtual launch event via an online tool like Zoom. Make the first get together fun with icebreakers or funny get to know you questions and vote on a name for your new club. Review any rules or dues requirements and be sure to gather everyone’s contact information if you do not already have it. You can collect dues online on a sign up and decide if you want extras like t-shirts or stickers.

  1. Accountability Makes the Dream Work - Discuss how you will track progress and hold each other accountable. Group like-minded runners based on experience and pace, then have them check in with each other after each run. To motivate your group from the start, ask everyone to share a favorite pump up song or two and create a running playlist on an app like Spotify.
  2. Hit the Pavement - Now that you have running buddies, a catchy name and everyone’s contact info, get down to business and plan your first run. Pick a start date and have each person set their own personal goal. If runners live close to one another, they may choose to start at the same location. Find a place online where you can save various running routes or maps, so everyone has the chance to try something new around town.
  3. Keep it Up - After a few successful outings, consider offering various mileage options so members can work towards improving distance and time. Designate a leader for weekly check-ins and highlight a new runner or personal achievement each week.

  1. Communication is Key - The key to success with any group is effective and consistent communication. Between runs, send pictures and videos, funny memes or links to interesting articles. Also, utilize online sign ups to let members know about special events, changes of venue or last-minute cancellations.
  2. Challenge the Group - Add in weekly challenges to bring in an extra level of competition and motivate group members. You could have a steps contest using fitness tracking devices or challenge each person to start a run from their favorite restaurant. Host an online bingo game to fill in squares for activities and see who can do them all first! Give away a t-shirt as an incentive.
  3. Get Social - Once your club has found its stride, post pics and video on social media and invite others to join the fun! Create a unique hashtag to boost unity and increase engagement. Let people know if the club is currently accepting new members and who to contact for more information. As membership increases, plan another virtual get together so everyone can get to know each other.

  1. Share the love - As your running club grows, share the love (and responsibility) to keeping it going. Ask members to help with social media posts, calendar updates, dues collections, social events and leadership. You can designate roles such as treasurer, secretary and social chair to empower others and give yourself more time to enjoy the club. .
  2. Congratulations! - You have created a successful running club. Keep members engaged by training for a big race, hosting socials or inviting a running store representative to come speak to the group (in person or digitally) and answer questions. These events will go a long way towards keeping members happy and the momentum going.
 One can be the loneliest number — especially when facing long, monotonous miles by yourself. An online running club gives everyone the chance to belong, achieve health and wellness goals, and cross the finish line together!

Courtney McLaughlin is a freelance writer in Charlotte, N.C. She gratefully shares her life, home and heart with her daughter and their dog.