How To Attend A Group Run If You're Shy

One thing that I didn't take into account before I moved to the West Coast for the winter was who I was going to run with. It took me a year to muster up the courage to meet running friends in NYC and after landing in sunny LA, I realized I was kind of alone. Yes, I have a handful of friends here in LA but none of them run or workout like I do! Sure, I workout with November Project but even though it's the most inclusive group of people you'll ever meet, I still stand off to the side and wait for someone to say hi to me because I get paralyzed with fear and turn into a total baby when I'm around new people.

Yes, you read that correctly! One thing you may not know about me is that I am really, really, really shy. I can stand in front of a thousand people and give a speech in my sleep but walking up to a stranger and introducing myself? NOPE! So here I am in LA, giving myself pep talks every day so that I can convince myself to #JustShowUp to November Project and Nike Run Club workouts because even though I'm shy, I don't want to run alone. I spent a year running alone and now that I've discovered the running community, I realized that I have more fun and push myself harder when I'm with a group.

If you're shy like me but want to muster the courage to workout with others, here are a few of my tips for getting myself to show up...

1. I smile and I try not to look at the floor.

Smile

9 times out of 10, I am to petrified to say hi to a stranger first but if I stand off to the side, smile and force myself to avoid throwing my energy at the ground, someone will most likely introduce themselves. And if they don't, don't worry about it! Just keep smiling. You showed up! Be proud of that!

2. Don't force anything.

dont force it

No one expects you to tell your life story or ask a million questions. Just listen and respond accordingly. You don't have to say anything if you don't want to but once someone introduces themselves, I tend to ask how they heard about the workout, if they're training for anything in particular, if they've lived in (insert city where you are) long, or if they like cheeseburgers. All are great questions to lead with.

3. Pep talks.

pep talk

This is embarrassing to admit, but I spend a good 5 minutes in my car or on the subway giving myself a pep talk when I'm on my way to a workout. I look at group workouts and events like jumping into a pool. If I take my time and dip my toe in, I'm not going in because I'll psyche myself out. But if I run and jump in right away (sort of like ripping off a bad aid), then it's overbefore I can chicken out. 

4. Try to remember people's names.

remember name

I think a part of my anxiety comes from the fact that I'm REALLY bad at remembering people's names. I once made a friend and had to look up her name for an entire month after we met. Try to make an effort to remember names but if you forget, my go to's are "Girl", "Dude", "Friend", and "Lady". (*DISCLAIMER: I use these all the time with people whose names I actually know as well so if we're running together and I'm like, "Hey girl!" It may not be because I don't remember your name. But I mean, I'm pretty bad with names so give me a break. I'm terrified.)

5. BRING A FRIEND.

bring a friend

There's a reason my sister is always with me, it's because she knows how shy I can get and jumps in to save the day if I panic. (If you met me found yourself talking to my sister while I smiled like an idiot, now you know why.) There is safety in numbers and I am INFINITELY more at ease and confident when I have someone with me. It's a security blanket and a bad habit but hey, it works. Drag a friend. Always a drag a friend along if you can.

and last but not least...

6. Run hard.

Run hard

Want to know what you can't do when you run hard? TALK. Boom. Get out of jail free card. (I bet my recent speed conquest is making a lot of sense right now...)

It's hard to make new friends or to get comfortable around a group of strangers when you're somewhere new. But remember that the running community is the most inviting group of people around. Even if you show up and don't say a word, at least you showed up. Just try to stay off your phone and make a personal goal to introduce yourself to at least one person before the workout is over. Or just show up to November Project because they give everyone hugs right off the bat and it's hard to feel shy when you're greeted with a hug.

Stay strong my shy friends! I'm right there with you! Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.

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Kelly Roberts

It all started when a silly joke made headlines back in 2014 when I took selfies with hot guys “hottie hunting” my way through the New York City Half Marathon. But ironically enough, I haven't always been a runner. As the self-proclaimed former President of the "I f*cking hate running club", I spent most of my life finding ways to avoid physical activity. Growing up, I missed over 70 days of PE my senior year. Working out was something I thought I had to suffer through in order to lose weight. 

Then, in 2009, my younger brother passed away unexpectedly and struggling to manage my grief, I gained more than 75 pounds. With the weight gain came a new fight to regain my sense of self and learn to love the body I saw when I looked in the mirror. Then one Thanksgiving morning, drowning in grief and self doubt, I decided to go for a run. I didn't make it half way down my street before I had to stop to walk but for some reason, struggling forward made more sense than getting back into bed. It turns out that running is a lot like grief, neither ever really get easier, you just get stronger. 

Over time, I realized that while some people are in fact born runners, others are made. I created this blog Run, Selfie, Repeat and my new podcast by the same name with the hopes to inspire others to say yes to themselves while making them laugh hysterically because laughing, in my opinion, is the solution to everything. 

Named by Women's Running as one of twenty women who are changing the sport of running and by Competitor Magazine as one of 12 Influential and inspiring runners under 30, my mission is to inspire others to get embrace a healthy lifestyle and pursue the strongest version of themselves possible.