A running club with weekly Group Runs in Aurora, IL., Montgomery, IL. and Oswego, IL.
Greetings everyone. This might be a bit long of a post, but it will be chock-full of great info and updates. So grab some cocoa and settle back for a read.
We started Nature Trail Runners just this year in June. In the short 4 and a half months since then we have-
*Grown from 4 people at our first run to having just over 100 members with about half of those having come out to at least one run.
*Boosted our group runs from 2 to 3 people to regularly having at least 5 and as many as 12 members show.
*Gone from a few website hits now and then to an average of 50 per day and a most ever day of 175 hits.
*Expanded our offering of Group Runs to become one of the most frequently meeting clubs in the area.
*Made it from never showing up in a Google search to being on the first page for ‘Running Club, Montgomery, IL” and second page for “Running Club, Aurora, IL”.
*Discovered some of the best trails in the area to run on.
*Fielded a team of 17 members at the Montgomery River Run 5k.
*Brought on two Run Leaders, Andy and Tiffany, and co-run leader Harish. Thank you so much for all your help!
*Developed a great friendship with the Bolingbrook Fun Run Club.
*Posted, like, a million awesome photos on our Facebook Page.
For a first year club, first half-year even, this is an absolutely amazing result. And it has happened because each one of you has done something to help us grow. From showing up at a run, spreading the word to your friends, bragging about us on Facebook, and helping new members with directions to even seemingly little things like just reading the blog posts, liking a photo, bringing tasty foods to share, and being supportive of the endeavors and trials of your fellow members we have grown into a club and a family to be proud of.
I am extremely encouraged by the friendships I’ve seen develop over the summer. I’m not a huge Facebook-er so I haven’t always responded to all the posts I wanted to comment on, but I’ve been reading them all and it’s great to see the support and encouragement that all of you are giving each other. That is very much the true spirit of a club. I look forward to helping continue this by managing the club to keep it as successful as it has been.
On that note, there are some changes to announce and then a look into the future of the club to go over. I’ve been listening to feedback the last couple of months and I think these changes will help alleviate some of the stresses we’ve had with things like location and finding information.
Cutting Back on Runs-
For Fall(until after Thanksgiving) we are dropping the Monday and Wednesday runs. This still leaves us with 5 Group Runs each week and will hopefully provide enough opportunies for everyone to join us at least once a week while increasing the number of members who show up at a given run.
For Winter we will drop to 3, possibly 4, runs per week. The main reasons for this are that many people lower their mileage in winter, some don’t like running outdoors at all, and also poor weather conditions would likely force many cancellations anyway if we have a lot of group runs. I feel that with around 3 runs each week, we will still be able to provide good opportunities to run with the club while avoiding any sort of burnout from fighting the weather. Members are always welcome to setup informal runs using the Facebook page if they need/want to.
We may take a 2-4 week break around Christmas/New Years but that will depend on the activity level of the group and the schedules of the run leaders at that time.
Static Run Locations-
When I first started the club in Summer, I went with the idea that it would be enjoyable to run at lots of different places and to switch those up randomly so everyone would get a chance to run everywhere. While I still personally like the idea, it has not proven to be conductive as a club schedule. The switch to fewer runs for Fall/Winter allows me a chance to introduce a new method.
For the Fall/Winter season we are going to have the runs stay at the same location for a given day of the week for at least one-month stretches.
For example: Friday runs for all of October and November will meet at the Same location every single time. Saturday runs will be at a different place then Friday runs, but all the Saturday runs will be at the same place, and so on. I have already updated the Group Runs Schedule to reflect this. I have also updated the Meetup descriptions with addresses and photos of where to park.
Hopefully this will allow everyone to become familiar with a location and where it is and make it easier to know where we are running on a day if you decide you want to join us but are not able to get to a computer to look at the schedule. I highly recommend that everyone print out/save directions now and maybe label them something like ‘Oct/Nov Locations’.
The only reason the locations of runs will change before December is if snow/ice makes a location unusable. In that case we will announce the new location through here, Facebook, and Meetup.
For December/January we will likely change locations and then keep those new locations for the two month stretch. The same for February/March. This should allow a good mix of easy-to-plan and not getting bored with a location.
Once Spring hits and we add in more group runs, we might add back some of the old locations but we will do so slowly, one at a time.
Starting now, it will be required that you wear reflective clothing and/or lights during night runs. You are responsible for bringing these items with you to a run. Headlamps are also really highly recommended. You can get them for pretty cheap at like Home Depot, and even a nice running specific one can be had for around $20.00. Please also use common sense when choosing reflective gear. A couple of small bars on your shoes and one dot on your jacket really doesn’t count. We may have to run on the roads once it snows and drivers need to be able to both See and Notice you from far away. I’d go with a vest or added reflective tape. Red blinking lights are more attention getting then white ones.
More Social Events-
Since we are running together less, and the Adventure Runs end in November, I’d like to do Social events more often, about twice a month and announced well in advance so people can plan for them. I’ve got some good ideas like the trampoline park, a kettlebell day, more swing dancing, going to dinner somewhere and the like, but I’d love to hear suggestions. Just drop me an email or a message on Facebook.
It’s hard to say just what will be happening for us next year, but I have a number of hopes and ideas. Among those are the following-
*Offer a run/walk program for newer runners
*Offer some sort of ‘Nothing over 10′ group run so runners who have a pace over 10 min/mile can enjoy a run together.
*Offer alternate training days where we do things like speedwork, drills, and hills
*Offer a Marathon training program
*Grow our membership to where we usually have 10 or more members at every run
*Be able to offer Pace Groups
*Add one or two more Run Leaders
*Look into non-profit status
*Organize into a traditional club- Small membership fee(perhaps around $20), but way more benefits and programs available. There will always be a free option available
*Gear up- Have a logo designed and make shirts and stuff available
*Transition to a stand-alone website. There would be a small advertising presence(small relevant banners and affiliate links only, no pop-ups or flash or anything annoying) to bring in funds to continue growing the club
*Get some sponsors
*Host a trail race
There are many possibilities and some may be farther off then next year to fully realize, but I hope this gives you all a good idea of the direction I’m working on taking the club in. Your continued feedback is really appreciated, particularly since I do not get to see some of you regularly. Please comment, email, or give feedback to Andy/Tiffany to pass along to me.