How to Start a Running Club: The Ultimate Guide for 2020

Explore our actionable suggestions to learn how to start a running club.

Many people view running as a solo sport. In fact, according to many runners, one of the best things about running is its solitude. It takes you out of the chaotic world and gives you a brief moment for reflection and de-stressing. Best of all, you don’t need too much gear, and you can run anytime, anywhere. You tie your laces, stretch out your legs, pick up your water bottle, and take off. But, sometimes, it’s easier to get yourself out and about when you have a friend or two holding you accountable and running at your side.

Luckily, for those of us who want some running buddies, it can certainly be a social sport.

Running clubs are becoming very popular, but some towns still don’t have their own. Someone has to take the initiative, and that someone may very well be you!

Starting a running club can be rather intimidating, though. To kick off your efforts, explore our top actionable tips:

  1. Our Favorite Running Club Idea
  2. Ideas for Getting Your Running Club Off the Ground
  3. Ways to Keep Your Running Club Connected
  4. How to Have Fun with Your Running Club

Creating a running group doesn’t have to be intimidating. In fact, it can be incredibly fun when you go into it with an open mind and plenty of well-thought-out ideas.

Ready to encourage companionship and a healthy lifestyle with a brand new running club? Let’s dive straight in!

Here’s our favorite idea for how to start a running club.

Our Favorite Running Club Idea

A running shoe drive fundraiser is our top suggestion for how to start a running club.Run for a Cause with Running Shoe Drive Fundraisers

Cost: FREE

To fully engage your running club members, you’ll need to employ a unique approach. Whether you need to boost funds or want to increase motivation, raising money as a team can be an excellent way to keep your running club engaged and motivated. It’s important to remember that fundraising as a team promotes positive qualities like teamwork and responsibility.

Running shoe drive fundraisers are an excellent way to generate funds and support a cause. When you partner with a fundraising coordinator like Sneakers4Funds, a running shoe drive is made easy with just a few simple steps:

  • Step 1: Members work together to collect gently worn, used and new athletic shoes.
  • Step 2: You place the sneakers in the prepaid shipping bag provided by the fundraising coordinator.
  • Step 3: Ship your bag (free of charge!) from the nearest UPS store to Sneakers4Funds.
  • Step 4: Within 48 hours of processing, your check will be in the mail.

That’s it! Your club members will be more engaged, and you’ll raise money to grow the running club even more.

Many people, especially runners, have athletic shoes lying around their homes that they’d be more than willing to give away. Instead of letting those unwanted sneakers wind up in a landfill, give them a new purpose, encourage teamwork, and generate some funds all at once.

Ready to explore how Sneakers4Funds can help your running club?

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Explore these marketing and fundraising ideas when learning how to start a running club.

Ideas for Getting Your Running Club Off the Ground

So you’ve decided you want to start a running club. What’s next? You know you want to, but you don’t know how to start a running club. No worries! There are several ways to acquire all the support you need (and then some!).

It all starts with effective marketing and generating those vital startup funds. Let’s explore some of the best tips for accomplishing this.

When learning how to start a running club, improve your visibility by marketing within your community.Community Marketing

Cost: FREE

Recruiting people for an extracurricular activity can be difficult—especially when your running club is brand new. Because of this, you’ll need to put substantial time and effort into spreading the word about your cause. There are several ways you can go about this, such as:

  • Post flyers on community bulletin boards that say what the club is, when and where you’ll meet, and how people can get involved.
  • Communicate via email and social media to reach larger audiences and answer their questions.
  • Rely on word of mouth marketing from interested runners to create some buzz.

While these ideas may be cost-effective, they take a considerable amount of time and perseverance to produce results. Be prepared and fully dedicated to making your dreams a reality.

Another marketing and fundraising idea for how to start a running club is a partnership.Running Store Partnership

Cost: FREE

Partnerships are an effective idea to generate funds and spread the word about your running club. Pitch the idea to a local running or sporting goods store. Chances are, the owner will agree to line up a percentage night, giving you a portion of one evening’s profit. They’re great for bringing in foot traffic. Plus, this will help you reach other runners with whom you may not have otherwise crossed paths. Take to social media to spread the word. If it goes well, they may be interested in lining up another percentage night with you the following month.

Once you’ve established a solid relationship, leverage your partnership to host a running shoe drive fundraiser at the business. All you need to do is pick a fundraising coordinator (like Sneakers4Funds) and set up the bins in the store.

This is a great way to spread the word about your club, because the store’s clientele might want to join. When suggesting this to the store owner, bring up the idea that your current club members are more likely to make purchases from the store, especially if you use the running store as a meeting location. If your club members buy running shoes at the store, they can donate their old sneakers on the spot and go home in their brand new sneakers. Watch as the athletic shoes pile up, and more runners become interested in your club!

Prioritize membership with a dedicated drive as one of your top running club ideas.Membership Drive


To build momentum around your club, consider hosting a membership drive. Chances are, you won’t charge membership fees right off the bat, so offer incentives instead of reduced membership rates. This could be something like a free water bottle or running shirt featuring your club’s logo and slogan (if you have one!).

Free swag serves a triple purpose: free swag for runners, a boost in membership, and free advertising! Even as your running club grows, you can host membership drives when member acquisition is slow.

A race can help boost funds and membership when you’re learning how to start a running club.5K Race


As your club starts to gain traction in your community, you’ll need funds to cover certain expenses. For instance, maybe you need to buy insurance to cover injuries. On the other hand, maybe you want to purchase uniforms or shirts. Whatever the case may be, an annual 5K is an excellent way to accomplish this!

To get started, book a location, select an engaging theme (like a mud run), and line up local vendors. You may even want live music at your event. Then, encourage registration and ask running club members to spread the word about your race. Not only are 5Ks fantastic fundraisers, but they’re also an effective recruitment tool. Because of this, actively promote your club and encourage racers to join. To incentivize them, consider offering a discount for running in the race. For existing members, offer a discount on the race for having a club membership.

For some extra revenue, coordinate a sneaker drive fundraiser. Make sure to advertise this in advance, so runners know to bring an extra pair of running shoes. Use this as an opportunity to sell branded merch, too. When runners wear your race t-shirt around town, it may spark the conversation with others about your club. Explore more tips for hosting a race with our actionable 5K guide.

 Knowing how to start a running club means raising awareness with door-to-door campaigning.Door-to-Door Campaigning

Cost: FREE

Whether you’re fundraising or just trying to boost membership, door-to-door campaigns are a great way to promote your running club. Split your members into groups. Then, assign each team to a couple of neighborhoods in your community. Arm them with eye-catching flyers to make the job easier. They’ll hop from house to house rallying up support for your club.

If you’re raising money, you can do more than just ask for generous donations. Take your campaign to the next level with a running shoe drive fundraiser! You’ll generate more revenue and receive more sneaker donations than you would if you coordinated it with an event. Supporters won’t have to leave the comfort of their own homes when you go straight to their doorsteps. Best of all, this gives those who can’t contribute financially a way to support your club.

To learn more about how to start a running club, explore these ideas for keeping your members connected.

Ways to Keep Your Running Club Connected

Many people join running clubs for the sense of community. Because of this, you’ll need to create a welcoming environment for runners of all speeds and abilities. Whether they’re a first-time runner or a four-time marathoner, be inclusive.

The more welcoming your club is, the more successful it will be. To encourage inclusivity and togetherness, explore the following actionable running club ideas.

Social media is one of many fantastic running club ideas for better visibility.Social Media

Cost: FREE

Social media should be your go-to for updating supporters and recruiting new members. Whether you’re getting your feet off the ground or you’re already well established, social media is an important marketing tool. Announce important updates, highlight runners with enthusiastic spirits, and feature group photos and action shots. Make sure you enable sharing so that members can easily spread the word about your club.

Make sure you’re linking back to your running club’s website, too! For instance, share blog posts about the club and the latest runs or races you’ve participated in as a group. Share just enough to pique their interest but not so much that it gives away the whole story. If your post interests them, they’ll be compelled to share your content on social media. You’ll drive traffic and expose readers to all the fun your runners have!

As part of your plan for how to start a running club, host monthly social gatherings.Monthly Get-Togethers


To form stronger bonds with team members, consider hosting monthly get-togethers. Runners will enjoy seeing each other in a social context while they’re not drenched in sweat. To kick off your monthly get-togethers, consider one of the following:

  • Host a backyard barbecue
  • Attend a local concert
  • Hold a movie night

Poll your members to come up with new ideas. They’ll jump at the opportunity to give their input and will be much more likely to attend if their suggestion is chosen.

Group training plans are another great idea when learning how to start a running club.Group Training Plans


Group training plans are a fantastic way to bring your club together. For the best results, give your club something to work toward like a race. An end goal gives them a hard deadline, which can be a great motivation. Contact those in charge of a local race and negotiate a group rate. Then, provide members with the race entry discount.

Put a fitness plan in place to help everyone get trained for the race. Make sure to offer several training plans so that everyone can join in on the fun. To cut costs, rely on your most athletic runners to lead the groups. Everyone will enjoy the extra push to get fit together.

Put branded merchandise at the top of your list of running club ideas.Branded Merchandise


Not only does branded merchandise connect your runners, but it’s also an effective marketing strategy. Feature sleek designs with your club’s name and logo. Include the price in your membership fees, so no one’s deterred. Consider offering:

The possibilities are endless! All you have to do is get creative. To make it even more immersive, host a design competition. The winner should receive the merchandise for free, so reimburse them by reducing their next membership fee. Sell the leftover swag to those who aren’t part of your club. For instance, sell them at your annual 5K.

Put online blogging at the top of your running club ideas list to improve outreach.Online Blogging


Blogging is an immersive running club idea that’s sure to motivate your runners. All you need is a website builder with blogging capabilities, and you’re all set!

The only limit to your blog is your own imagination. Feature tips for better fitness. Highlight your most active and hard-working runners. Share race recaps and workouts for every skill level. Don’t forget about powerful imagery to motivate readers! Have runners who also enjoy writing? Encourage them to lend their voice by creating guest posts, so your blog features several perspectives.

Look at these top exercise ideas to help you start a running club and boost engagement.

How to Have Fun with Your Running Club

Once you’ve established a solid foundation for your running club, you’ll need to put in extra effort to keep runners engaged. Sure, everyone will enjoy regular meetups, but you’ll have to change up your routine every now and then to peak engagement. This goes beyond taking different running routes each week. Let’s take a look at a few ways to spice things up and keep runners interested!

Fitness challenges are great running club ideas for encouraging involvement.Fitness Challenges


Foster a spirit of friendly competition with a fitness challenge. Create a challenge that pushes runners but is still doable, like a virtual road race. Make sure to set a timeline. Four to six weeks should do the trick. It’s long enough that it truly challenges them but not too long that burns them out. During that time frame, participants should run as far as they can.

As they rack up their miles, participants should post their progress. Encourage them to document their mileage using a fitness app or personal pedometer. To incentivize participation, offer prizes to your most active members (like free swag or gift certificates). Watch as more and more runners participate each time you host a new challenge.

When starting a running club, consider hosting an obstacle course to keep members interested.Obstacle Course


Give runners a full-body workout with a fun obstacle course. Make sure to have everyone sign online waivers beforehand just in case someone gets injured. Get creative with your challenges! Here are just a few ideas for hurdles to consider:

  • Monkey bars
  • Rope climb
  • Mud pit

Even if you’re super innovative in your approach, you’ll need some money to get the ball rolling for this running club idea. To raise money for the obstacles, host an athletic shoe drive fundraiser. Go around the community, collecting gently worn, used and new running shoes. Then, send them off to the fundraising coordinator, receive your check, and purchase your obstacles!

A circuit challenge is an effective idea for better membership engagement when starting a running club.Circuit Challenge

Cost: FREE

Trying to find a workout for everyone is downright difficult—especially when your runners are at all different speeds and skill levels. For your next run, consider a circuit challenge. A circuit challenge is an excellent idea for running clubs to break out of their typical routine while still involving everyone.

Set up a route with a few landmarks along the way. At each designated checkpoint, select a few exercises for runners to complete. Squats, pullups, planks—you name it! Reps continue until everyone has arrived at the landmark and completed the fitness challenge. Then, everyone takes off for the next landmark together. That’s it! A little extra effort goes a long way for engaging members.

When starting a running club, try a chain run to keep runners motivated.Chain Run

Cost: FREE

This running club idea requires runners to line up in a single-file line. Then, they take off and try to keep a consistent pace. The last person in line steps out and increases their speed to pass everyone else. Eventually, they become the leader of the pack and fall into place by resuming the average pace. At this point, the new caboose steps out of line and speeds up to take over as the pack leader. The cycle continues until everyone races from the back of the line to the front.

The goal is to maintain an average speed with which everyone is comfortable. Once everyone has been the leader, the group temporarily increases the intensity of their workout. Interval training doesn’t have to be dreadful. Make it entertaining with a chain run!

When learning how to start a running club, host an out-and-back run.Out-and-Back Run

Cost: FREE

Break out of your workout routine with an out-and-back run. These runs are simple but very effective. Plan a route and select a meet-up time.

Everyone will start the group run at once, going at their own pace. Instead of running to a particular landmark, they’ll turn around after a set period of time. The group will naturally spread out, but that’s okay! The faster runners will have more ground to cover on the way back, bringing the group back together at the finish.

Explore more exercise ideas for your running club with this list of creative group workouts. Runners of all skill levels will love the change in pace and routine!

Attending fitness classes together is one of many fantastic running club ideas.Fitness Classes


our members clearly enjoy running, but sometimes they’re in the mood for other workouts. Switch up your workouts with fitness classes.

To pull this idea off, partner with a local gym or fitness studio. Make sure to poll members on what types of classes they’d enjoy. While this may take a chunk of change, group rates are easily negotiable. Then, tell members how much participation will cost. Save this idea for the rainy or cold seasons.

Check out these additional resources for how to start a running club.

Additional Resources for How to Start a Running Club

When starting a running club, encourage runners to find a new use for their old running shoes.

What to Do with Old Running Shoes: 18 Eco-Friendly Ideas. Every 300 to 500 miles, you’ll need to replace your running shoes. Instead of letting your old sneakers wind up in a landfill, give them new life using one (or more) of these ideas!

Read More

When learning how to start a running club, consider hosting a 5K using these tips.

21 Awesome 5K Fundraiser Ideas For All Organizations. Hosting a 5K as your running club’s next fundraiser? Check out our suggestions for raising more money and attracting more participants!

Read More

Consider hosting a walkathon to produce funds to start a running club.

21 Essential Walkathon Fundraiser Ideas for Every Cause. Walkathons are a fantastic fundraising idea for running clubs. Explore our top suggestions for making your next walkathon a success.

Read More

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