Welcome to Earth

What is a Run Club?

WELCOME TO EARTH: Fartlek Training

Welcome to Welcome to Earth, the POSSESSED department where an alien asks a running-related question and we try to answer it. 

This month’s letter comes from Todd, who writes:


My name is Todd Penis, and I live 40 lightyears away on a bin lid floating in space. This hardly seems to matter, though, because let’s face it, no one reading this besides Joe Rogan will believe you’re getting mail from aliens. Anyhoo, I wanted to know what a ‘Run Club’ is. I keep hearing about it. What is it?



Hey Todd! Thanks for your letter and thank you for your question. The term ‘Run Club’ is definitely on everyone’s Earth lips right now, and I’d be happy to break it down for you.

A Run Club is a collection of earthlings that get together once a week (or once a month) to go for a run as a group. It’s a way for runners to meet and run and talk about running while they run. Sound nerdy? That’s because it is. Picture a bunch of running dorks coming together at a predetermined time and place and standing around with their arms folded, moving their weight back and forth from foot to foot. Then the alpha dork arrives and congratulates everyone for showing up, elicits a scattering of self-conscious chuckles with a lame joke or two, explains the route, and off they go. All three of them. Just kidding. Most run clubs are way bigger, but the scenario I just described is pretty universal.

But run clubs aren’t just about running around in huge groups and being conspicuous—it’s also about community. As a matter of fact, run clubs are almost exclusively geared toward fostering a supportive environment for runners to fellowship. They provide a social outlet for meeting people, making new friends (because most runners rapidly lose their non-runner friends), setting running goals, and hanging out with like-minded earthlings.

Some run clubs are very casual. They’re initiated by average Joes who one day decide they’d like to start running a run club. Then there are run clubs that are a little more serious. These clubs are directed by a running coach or someone who is really good at running, and club members learn about things like form and training strategies while staying fit and having fun with friends.

Most run clubs (the good ones, anyway) are inclusive and encouraging. You’d be hard-pressed to find a run club that didn’t foster an inclusive, supportive, and enthusiastic environment. A run club that didn’t encourage members of all abilities would not last long. That would probably be an asshole club. Run clubs are nice because runners are nice, and runners are nice because they’re happy people (because they run). And you can just join a run club by turning up! I was in LA a couple of years ago, and I decided to roll up on the Eagle Rock Run Club without knowing anyone, and they were super cool and instantly made me feel like part of the gang. Actually, that’s not true. They sniffed me out for the first ten minutes, but when they decided I wasn’t a weirdo, they put me in the center of a group hug. Speaking of weirdos, run clubs can attract them. Especially since the internet recently decided to belch up a rash of ‘Run Clubs are the New Dating Apps’ articles, which was like blowing on an enchanted conch that attracts fuckboys and douchebags. But I digress...

Another great thing about run clubs is they motivate everyone in the club to stay committed to the sport and achieve goals they otherwise might not have. For example, you might join a run club, and the alpha dork might one day stand on a bench, take off his shirt, and say, ‘Hey guys, who wants to run the (insert marathon/half-marathon/charity run/etc.)?’ And you might say, ‘Aw, hell yeah!’ And then, because you’ve committed to the event in front of all your running homies, you’re more likely to actually do it. It’s one thing to sign up for a marathon in the privacy of your own home, but when you’ve agreed to it in the presence of twenty other people that you meet with once a week, it makes it pretty hard to be lazy with your training or to chicken out.

By and large, running clubs are excellent. They provide community in a world where IRL mingling is almost a relic, and they make it fun to stay fit. I hope that answers your question, Todd!

If you’re an alien (or someone who thinks they're an alien), and you have questions about earthlings and running, write to us here!