If you’re ready to start a new running routine but need some group energy to get you going, don’t worry. Essex County is home to many running clubs for all levels of experience and all paces. You don’t have to be fast or run long distances to reap benefits from outdoor exercise. Running and walking are excellent low-cost, low-equipment ways to begin a fitness habit. No matter how fast or slow you go, hitting the pavement gives you cardiovascular training which allows for improved metabolism, alertness, and endurance. Running outdoors also improves balance training and strengthens the abdominals, which improves overall strength and conditioning. Read on to learn more about these clubs, what they offer, and which might be the best fit for you.
Essex Running Club │Montclair
The Essex Running Club has been a comprehensive home for runners of all ages and abilities in Montclair since 1983. Group runs, trail runs, strength training, club meetings featuring fitness topics and speakers, races, and running routes around Montclair all come with a membership to Essex Running Club. The club hosts weekly group runs on Thursday night and Sunday morning. The club also hosts a trail run on Saturday mornings.
Membership will get you plenty of perks, including discounted entry to USA Track & Field races, training with professional running coaches, and plenty of events and opportunities to meet up and run with fellow runners. Annual fees are $25 for individuals and $40 for families, and longer-term rates are available. The Essex Running Club meets regularly at Fleet Feet Montclair at 603 Bloomfield Avenue.
SOMA Fox Running Club │Maplewood
(Photo credit: @somafoxrunningclub)
Established just this year, the SOMA Fox Running Club (SFRC) is a chapter of the Road Runners Club of America. Per the website, SFRC is committed to inclusion and welcomes all runners aged 18 and over. The club is focused on creating a community built around group runs, workouts, and events. All levels of skill and experience can find a niche here.
SFRC hosts weekly runs on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Random fun runs pop up on the members-only Facebook group page. No upcoming events are currently scheduled, but this is a great place to find a community for your running routine. Annual membership is $35 for an individual and $50 for adults sharing a household. Financial hardship rates are available. You can test out the SOMA Fox Running Club by dropping in for a community run up to three times before committing to membership.
Clifton Roadrunners Club │Clifton
Billing itself as “The Friendliest Running Club in New Jersey,” The Clifton Roadrunners Club is a USA Track & Field-sanctioned running club. The club welcomes all runners regardless of pace, age, or target distance. The goal of this running club is to compete in races ranging from one mile to a half marathon. Plenty of upcoming events are listed on the website. Tuesday nights are track meetups, and Saturday mornings are distance runs. Join the club for three to 20 miles at any pace from a 6-minute mile to a 15-minute mile. A family membership is normally $25 per year, but for 2021 you can get the membership for only $10 for the family.
Jersey Women Strong│Ridgewood
(Photo credit: @jerseywomenstrong)
Jersey Women Strong in Ridgewood is “North New Jersey’s largest all-women walking, running, and multisport team”. Founded in 2012, the mission is to welcome women of all ages and abilities seeking community via fitness and philanthropy. Some members race competitively, while some “simply reap the benefits of exercising with like-minded individuals.”
Jersey Women Strong offers an array of membership benefits, from running clubs and race training to coached workouts, social events, and nutrition education, not to mention motivation and support from the club. Annual membership is $150 to Jersey Women Strong.
Girls on the Run New Jersey East │Millburn
(Phot0 credit: @gotr_nj)
Girls on the Run is a “program designed to enhance girls’ social, emotional, and physical skills and behaviors to successfully navigate life experiences. The program’s intentional curriculum places an emphasis on developing competence, confidence, connection, character, caring and contribution in young girls through lessons that incorporate running and other physical activities.” Serving girls in grades 3-8, GOTR strives to create a safe environment for young women and reduce the self-esteem and social pressures of beauty problems that create disorders and insecurities.
Financial assistance is available for families seeking to enroll their daughters. Fall registration is open now, with a new program beginning September 20, so hurry to join soon, or stay tuned for more opportunities.