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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!