Running Club Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump

AUSTRALIANS HAVE ALWAYS loved running. In fact, data from Sport Australia shows that more than three million of us are recreational runners, making it one of the most popular pastimes in Australia. But it’s doubtful they’ve ever loved running as much as they do right now.

Lately it feels like every sleepy Saturday morning social media scroll is interrupted by feed-filling stories live on the scene of a picturesque early run a group of fit-looking people sporting a natural glow of sweat. Immediately, you’re confronted with the realisation that while you’re yet to leave the comfort of your bed, your pesky mutuals are out making the best of their day and hitting their fitness goals in the process. Then, they’re probably treating themselves with a pastry afterwards.

Such is the nature of society’s deeply ingrained herd mentality that an uptick in participation in any activity has a multiplying effect. People try something out and post about it online. More people see it, try it out for themselves and, of course, post about it. On and on the cycle continues until a trend has reached its pinnacle, at which point it becomes “too mainstream” and we all lose interest and pretend we were never so enthralled by a now played-out farce.

Running clubs are yet to reach the point of becoming too mainstream, but if our analysis is correct, and this phase is in-step with the current speed of the fitness trend cycle, they can’t be far from it. But no, the clubs must be still approaching their zenith, as they’re still collecting members and inducting new acolytes at impressive speeds. In all likelihood, if you’re not already one of those stalwart members, you’re considering becoming one. Why else would you be reading this?

If you’re keen on joining a running club, there are a few things you should know, and you likely have a fair few questions, too. Luckily, we’ve compiled everything you need to know before you join, so you know what to expect before rolling up to run.

How do running clubs work?

The principle is fairly straightforward, right? A bunch of people meet up in a predetermined location at a predetermined time and run for a predetermined distance. But how does that actually work in practice? While the parameters of each individual running club will differ—with some focusing on training and others more on socialising—they are united in their belief that, when it comes to working out, a community is stronger than an individual.

Most running clubs are organised through social media—although there are some exceptions to this rule, as groups with members that skew slightly older in age also communicate through different means. Some will have a regular routine, such as meeting at 6am on Saturdays in a regular spot. Others use more dynamic scheduling, updating their members on a chosen location and time throughout the week.

Smaller running clubs may be less organised. In some instances, the plan will be to just meet up and run. Larger clubs, however, have meticulously mapped out routes and set off in waves of fragmented groups in order of ability and speed.

How do you join a running club?

Running clubs are not some cultlike Masonic order, whereby you must be nominated by an existing member and go through a lengthy initiation process to join. Some larger clubs do require a membership and you’ll have to pay fees to join, but others will often share their planned meet-ups with the public on social media, so all you really need to do is show up and join in, making it one of the most affordable means of exercise. Small-scale groups may require permission from an organiser to join, and naturally, it also helps if you know someone in the loop to get the ball rolling, but that’s definitely not mandatory. In our experience, running clubs are very welcoming and inclusive spaces.

What are the benefits of joining a running club?

As anyone who’s ever put-off a run or a trip to the gym will know, finding motivation to exercise is a lot easier when you have someone holding you accountable. That’s the line of thinking that governs most running clubs. By exercising in a group and facing shared challenges you’re more likely to show up, stick to a regular workout routine and push yourself to be better.

The effectiveness of working out in groups is well documented. One study found that 95 percent of people who started a weight-loss program in a group completed the program, compared to a 76 percent completion rate for solo operators. Another study found that not only are group workouts better at improving quality of life than individual workouts, they are also better at reducing stress.

In addition to the motivational benefits, running as part of a club is also a lot safer than doing it alone, especially if you prefer to get a sweat on in the early hours of the morning or late at night. Running alongside others can also improve your ability, as you’ll likely land a few pointers on form, pacing and gear along the way.

Can you join a running club as a beginner?

Larger running clubs are all about versatility. It would be unreasonable to expect a group of 100+ people to all keep to the same pace, so most running clubs split off into different pace groups. More advanced runners might join the five minutes per kilometre pace group, whereas newcomers can stick to the six minutes per kilometre group. That way, runners of all skill and experience levels can join in on the action without feeling like they’re taking it easy or over-exerting.

What should you wear to a running club?

Exactly what you would wear on a solo run. There isn’t really a dress code for most running clubs, and if there is, its only requirement would likely be to slap the club’s logo across your chest. Opt for some breathable, flexible clothing and your trustiest running shoes.

That being said, many fashion brands have also tapped into the running club craze, designing cool capsule collections for runners that put our oversized T-shirts and basketball shorts to shame. Some of the best brands for zeitgeisty running gear are Satisfy Running, District Vision, On Running and Melbourne-based Erniold. But believe us when we say these brands have cult followings, so there’s a high chance you’ll be wearing the same thing as a fellow runner when you join the pack (don’t stress, it’s all about community, remember).

Best running clubs in Sydney

440 Run Club

Where: Bronte Beach

When: Saturdays, 5am

Instagram: @the_440

Unofficial Run Club

Where: Milson’s Point

When: Fridays, 6am

Instagram: @unofficialrunclub

Pace Yourself Run Club

Where: Centennial Park

When: Saturdays, 8am

Instagram: @paceyourselfrunclub

Best running clubs in Melbourne


Where: Multiple locations across Melbourne

When: Saturdays, 8am

Instagram: @parkrunau


Where: The Tan track, Princes Park and multiple locations across Melbourne

When: Tuesdays, 6:45pm. Thursdays, 6:30am. Saturdays/Sundays, multiple times.


Tanaka Running Club

Where: Carlton

When: Wednesdays, 6:30am. Sundays, 7:30am.

Best running clubs in Brisbane

South Bank Runners

Where: South Brisbane

When: Tuesdays, 6pm. Thursdays, 6pm.

Instagram: @southbankrunners

Unfit Run Club

Where: All over Brisbane

When: Irregular meetings, usually at least once per week.

Instagram: @unfitrunning

Best running clubs in Perth

440 Run Club Cottesloe

Where: Cottesloe

When: Saturdays, 6am

Instagram: @the_440_cottesloe

The Early Ones

Where: Scarborough

When: Irregular, but typically Sundays between 7am-8am.

Instagram: @theearlyones_

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