Somehow, as I grasped at aspirations and ideas of myself entering early-adulthood, running assumed a piece of my personality.
It’s become a cornerstone of my week, around which all the rest of it stacks and topples. As much as it sounds like hyperbole, I recognize that it appears mirrored with the truth. I run almost every day–under a fiery sun, in miserable light rain, and late at night. Often alone.
And while this reads as a highly individual set of circumstances, I firmly believe that a strong running habit can be born of community. I mean, what’s not to love about running? Your heart loves it, your glutes (grown more and more shapely) will thank you, and it does wonders as far as clearing your mind goes.
Joining a running community wields an entire universe of accessory benefits. From holding you accountable, creating meaningful connections with people outside of rigid social circles (and outside of the office), to giving you something extra to look forward to once or twice a week. It’s a way into a totally new set of habits–and a great way of weeding out old ones.
Aside from the host of benefits, running clubs also provide safe spaces for people to run. I doubt it needs elucidation that Metro Manila’s streets are no Utopia–and a key benefit of being surrounded with people striving for the same goal (of completing a run) is being assured that you’re in safe company.
But where do you look for clubs? And how do you get involved?
While there isn’t any strictly defined etiquette to joining a running group, I strongly advocate for a stay tuned and show up approach to group running. Most of these guys are just happy to host their own campfires in this community and are more than happy to have more people with them.
So which campfires should I visit?
I’m going to take you through a handful–and please bear in mind that this is far from being a complete picture of the running scene in Metro Manila–of run clubs well worth checking out. And I’m going to do this in alphabetical order.
Weekly running schedule: Sunday morning “Kape at Takbuhan” beginning at 1C Coffee in Kapitolyo at 6AM, Thursday early morning “Sunrise Session” in Arcovia City, Pasig at 5AM.
Pulled together by a mission of “building an inclusive running community that bridges runners of all paces and faces, one run at a time”, the EZRC community hosts large group runs in 5KM, 8KM, and 12KM distances on Sunday mornings, and hosts guided speed sessions on Thursday mornings. (image: https://www.instagram.com/p/CvMllfLug3Y/?img_index=1)
The best way to get running with the club is by giving the Instagram page a follow and staying tuned to updates via the stories. Runners can sign up for the runs via the polls on the stories and are guided by a band of pacers on the days of the run–typically with pacers assigned to multiple running speeds so that no one is left behind.
A great way to start running is by working through the different distances, beginning at the friendly 5KM and working your way up to the lengthy 12KM distance.
And if you’re in La Union, send EZ LU a message on Instagram if you want to hit the trails.
Weekly running schedule: Thursday evening 8KM runs beginning at Testuo, Poblacion around 7:30PM.
Bridging elements of Poblacion’s nightlife scene with a time and place accessible for Makati-based midweek workers, RLRC carves a route through BGC, across Mckinley Parkway, and back around to Makati up through Poblacion.
Pictures from these runs are always a unique blend of neon lights, the rougher edges of Makati, and runners darting back towards the Tetsuo restaurant. I’d argue that nothing caps off a Thursday night Makati run much better than a tray of Sancho dusted karaage and an ice-cold Strong Zero.
Updates for this club are sent via the Telegram channel which you can access at this link. Typically the Thursday schedule is announced on Wednesday evenings or Thursday mornings, with the occasional weekend run thrown into the mix.
Weekly running schedule: Tuesday and Thursdays at 6AM as well as 530AM on Sundays. The meet-up spot is at Single Origin, Rockwell.
If you’re keen to run around the neat loops of Rockwell, around Power Plant Mall and the buildings that surround it, this recently popped up club is a great place to go.
Hosting three community runs a week, the club promotes “accountability and a healthy lifestyle”. Running in loops is especially handy if you’re still getting used to running longer; in a loop, you can leave your bottle at a rest stop and come back to it as you please. Given you’re running with a group in a loop, you can feel free to run at your own pace without fear of getting lost along the way.
To join Rockwell Run Club, you just need to show up. They also post reminders on their Instagram page.
Weekly running schedule: Regularly updated via the club Facebook group.
“Runners inspiring runners.”
An apt motto for a club hosting a large pool of runners–”whether you’re a seasoned marathoner, a speed demon, a trail enthusiast, or a casual jogger just starting out”–via a near-constantly updating Facebook group.
With runs having been organised all around Manila, from Alabang, to UP, to BGC, and MOA, this club, which has managed to channel Facebook groups as a tool for organisation, is a great way to explore routes around the Metro with an “inclusive community of passionate runners.”
It’s also a fantastic avenue to meet and virtually interact with runners from all over The Philippines. The best way to get involved: joining the community on Facebook. From there, you can interact with club members, share your personal bests and celebrate those of other runners, and discuss running gear to your heart’s content.
Typically, runs like the recent “Mass Shakeout Run” are launched on both the Facebook and Instagram pages of the group–so club members do well to stay updated via the social media profiles of RWP.
Weekly running schedule: Message the team’s instagram page for assessment and rates.
Strictly speaking, this is a team based in Alabang. They’re inclusive, growing, and well trained–with three qualifiers for the Boston marathon within their roster.
That being said, if you’re looking to make a meaningful, targeted impact on your running performance, this may be an option to consider. As much as joining a community and loading up on gear can motivate you, it often takes direct instruction after an initial assessment to give you a real training boost.
Couple that with a team and you’re working on a formula for becoming a competitive runner.
A vision for a running Philippines
I’m yet to find any argument against running being force for social good. In the sport, I’ve watched individuals shift their habits in the direction of healthy. They grasp their priorities firmly, reorienting their lives around their health as well as that of the community–they’ve renewed the often cited but too often only longed for social nature of our existence.
Whether you’re looking to pick up a new healthy hobby, or in the market for new friends to run with, a running community is an awesome place to start. If that means putting all your eggs into one group, more power to you.
But know that most of the communities are regularly collaborating with brands as well as each other to make the entire Philippine running community as large and supportive as possible.
Just as we all work to improve our own selves, the act of running collectively focuses us on the needs of our fellow runners too. In improving ourselves, we find just a bit more room for empathy. And that’s a social good any country needs.