Sometimes we all need a little kick in the butt to motivate us to lace up our sneakers and hit the road for a run. Thanks to these running stores and organizations, it can be pretty easy to maintain a structured running plan with the help of others. The following groups offer free “fun runs” throughout Washington every day of the week. Even better, most fun runs are divided by paces, meaning you don’t ever have to worry about being the last in the pack. So whether you’re running your first 5K or are in the market for a new training buddy, read on to see which running group best suits you.
Pacers Fun Run
Monday through Saturday, various times and locations
All six Pacers stores offer morning and evening fun runs that range from three to seven miles. For longer runs, head to the Fairfax or Old Town Alexandria stores on Saturday at 8 and 7 AM, respectively. All paces are welcome. Bonus: Pacers often teams up with gear companies such as Saucony, allowing you to try their products during your run.
Lululemon Run Club
Monday through Wednesday, various times and locations
Each Lululemon Athletica location in Washington (Bethesda, Clarendon, Georgetown, Logan Circle, and Tysons Corner) has its own run club and fun run during the week, deemed readers’ favorite local fun run. Runs range from three to six miles, and you can choose your own pace group. Depending on the location, expect a run by the monuments, through the streets of Arlington, along the W&OD Trail, or on the Crescent Trail. Sessions typically end with group stretching, planks, and a quick ab workout. Some stores host hills workouts, too.
Potomac River Running
Monday through Thursday at 6:30 PM, various locations
Lasting no more than 50 minutes, Potomac River Running’s fun runs begin at 6:30 PM. Each run goes out and back, so everyone starts and finishes together in their pace groups. New runners are encouraged to start off easy and run just one to two miles. Local groups such as DC Capital Striders and Team Z also team up with the store for weekly training runs.
Monday at 6:30 PM
The Arlington triathlon store’s fun runs with Endurance are currently on hiatus for the rest of the summer, but they’ll pick back up in the fall. When they return, expect a choice of running 3.2 or 5 miles through the neighborhood streets and along the W&OD Trail.
Tuesday through Thursday at 6:30 PM and Saturday at 10 AM, various locations
All City Sports locations (Downtown, Georgetown, Harbor East, Silver Spring, and Bethesda) offer a run club in partnership with Asics. Choose a three- or five-mile run, and get the chance to earn rewards and test new gear.
Tuesday and Thursday at 6:30 PM
When Nike’s Monday-night boot camp fills up, you can join the run club on Tuesday or Thursday night instead. Runners are encouraged to try out Nike products during the run, and to track their progress using their Fuel Bands or Nike Running app.
Thursdays at 6:30 PM
New Balance DC’s three-to-five-mile group runs and walks are for all paces and caters to beginners. Folks at the store says the run/walks are slow in the summer, but expect them to pick back up in the fall. Stay updated via New Balance DC’s Facebook page.
Saturday at 9 AM
Join this triathlon store in Leesburg for its Saturday “Run ’N Form” group run. You’ll start off with a short demonstration on correct form and warmup drills, then head off together for a four- to five-mile run.
Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday at various locations.
Fleet Feet of Adams Morgan hosts Sunday morning runs that last about five miles. Expect varying paces (7- to 12-minute miles) and courses through Rock Creek park and Adams Morgan. Also noteworthy: The store hosts ladies-only runs on Wednesday at 6:30 PM. Or join Fleet Feet in Gaithersburg every Thursday and Saturday for three- to six-mile runs.