So, you’ve finally decided to show up as a newbie to that running group you see around your neighborhood. If you’re even a little bit shy it can feel uncomfortable, and questions like “where are we going?” “Does the group leave right on time?” and “Are these people going to like me?” run through your head.
The best way to find out is to start a conversation. As a run-group-hopper, I’m constantly putting myself into situations where I don’t know someone but want to run with them anyway. While I’m not a shy person, it’s always awkward to start a conversation with a stranger. So, I’ve compiled a list of 12 icebreaker questions that have helped me get out of my shell and start talking with folks before, during, and after a run.
1. Hi, I’m new here- what’s the route like?
By stating that you’re new to the group and don’t know the route, you’re opening yourself up and group members will likely want to help you and make sure you’re comfortable.
2. Hi! I see you’re wearing (shoe brand you recognize) how do you like those?
Talking about shoes is a universal icebreaker, especially with runners. Be prepared to get a history on the shoe and why they choose it over another one.
3. I’m brand new to the group, do you guys go for coffee or food after the run?
This shows that you’re interested in being part of their social scene and you’ll get to know more about the members if you go out with them afterwards.
4. Are you training for anything right now?
This is a very common thing to ask new folks you’re running with. It’s my go-to question since I’m always curious about what races are happening and what’s motivating my running mates.
5. How long have you been a runner?
This question is a good one during the run, everyone’s running histories are different and it’s interesting to find out how people got into the sport.
6. What do you think of this group; how long have you been a member?
This is a good one for when you’re running in a pack and want to hear more about the make-up of the group and the dynamics of the club.
7. Did you hear about (breaking news story)?
This can be running related or not. While politics may not be the first thing you’ll want to talk about as a newbie, there are plenty of other interesting things in the news and the running world that people want to discuss.
8. What’s your pace for today?
This is both helpful information before you take off for the run (so you don’t choose running partners that are too fast) and a way to start a conversation.
9. Do you have a favorite running event?
This is a question that you can ask a group while jogging or one on one. In a group people might respond about events that their group does together, individuals might tell you about their favorite race.
10. What’s your favorite running distance?
Some people love to run 5ks others are into marathons and ultra marathons. There’s usually a reason and a variety of answers.
11. What do you think about (running related product)?
Talking gear can be a great conversation starter. Especially when it comes to technology (watches) hydration (water belts, packs, water bottles) and food (nutrition on the run). Runners are thoughtful about what they wear and carry and they’ll be more than happy to share their knowledge and want to know your opinion on gear.
12. When you’re not running, what are you up to?
I dislike the question “What do you do?” but many people want to talk about how they make their living. It’s interesting to find out if you have a similar interests beyond running.
Showing up for a group run is brave, starting conversations and making friends can take some effort. Use these icebreakers to help you get conversations started and figure out if the group you joined is the right one for you. If you organize groups starting conversations online via motion.social can help your members feel at ease.
What conversation starters do you use?