Love it? Hate it? It’s complicated? However you feel about social media and digital networking sites, there’s no denying that they’ve made it easier than ever to find kindred spirits, whether you’re looking for other runners with an affinity for working out in costume or just wanting to find a post-work belay buddy. Nobody understands this better than ultrarunner and adidas Terrex athlete Timothy Olson, who uses social media to spread his love of mindful running and find other runners when he travels. “Being openhearted and open-minded during travel, you never know when an opportunity will arrive. Be curious of life and enjoy the journey,” says Olson. That’s some advice we can get behind. Here are a few ways to find people to enjoy it with.
The most popular social fitness platform is good for far more than just tracking your KOM chase: the app’s Club Search tool also allows you to look for groups who organize workouts in your location. Connect directly with members, follow their activity, and join in group runs and rides. Using the tool, we found an NYC-based club for bikers who like to ride in Prospect Park. And the nationwide November Project uses Strava to log member activity and spread their mission of empowerment and community building through group workouts.
Mountain and Hiking Project
Mountain Project is the largest database of rock climbing routes in the world, and it’s also one of the best places to find a climbing partner. The site’s Partner Finder tool searches through more than 24,000 registered climbers who are looking to climb with new people, finding potential matches based on information about your skill level (lead and follow grades), preferred climbing styles (trad, sport, etc.), and more. Mountain Project’s sister site, Hiking Project, has a similar feature for those who like to keep both feet planted on the ground. Check out the Partner Forum, where hikers can look for buddies to tackle dream trails or their local parks.
Facebook and Instagram
In addition to being the stomping ground of angry aunts, Facebook is also the go-to organizational tool for hiking clubs and running clubs all over the U.S. The inclusive Run4AllWomen, a club that promotes female athleticism and raises money for women’s issues, uses Facebook to update followers about their various running projects and post inspirational stories of women succeeding in the outdoors. You can also search for “hiking groups near me” and see a list of Facebook-based groups in your area. Or maybe one of your old running buddies happens to follow Timothy Olson, and she shares that he’s leading a pop-up group run in your town—well, you just learned of a cool opportunity. “Pop-ups are a great way to meet new people, learn new trails, and share memories that enrich our lives,” says Olson.
Over on Instagram, the home of fun-hogging millennials, the Electric Flight Crew, a glow-stick-loving running group in Los Angeles and New York City, spreads the word about its weekly runs, followed by “no shower happy hours.” adidas Runners, which also has groups in New York City and Los Angeles (as well as dozens of other cities around the world), takes a more performance-focused approach, promoting everything from panel discussions about holistic running to strength-training workouts on Instagram using #adidasrunners.
Olson takes a similar tack, using Instagram stories to announce upcoming meetups and communal runs. To keep your finger on the pulse, Olson recommends using Instagram’s search and explore functions to find and follow hashtags, which can reveal new pages and profiles you otherwise might never have encountered. “Looking for specific hashtags on Instagram is a good way to find us. We use the hashtags #runmindful, #adidasterrex, and @bouldercommunityrun so people can find us.”