Austin has great trails, great weather and great people — making it a no-brainer to get out and join a running club. With so many options, we put together a list of the free and popular running groups around town to get involved in. If one piques your interest, check out their websites or Facebook groups to get more info, or better yet — just show up!
Austin Beer Run Club
The Austin Beer Run Club started with just a few friends who met up each Wednesday for a casual 5K followed by happy hour tacos and beers. However, when one friend, Chris Bash, decided to post about the group on Meetup.com, the club took off.
The growth went from 5 to 35 to 100 and more. Steve Moakley, one of the original members, attributes the growth of the club to the laid-back and social aspects of the group and its name. He says he’s watched countless friendships bloom through the weekly meetups since 2012.
After a few location moves, the Austin Beer Run Club has just landed at the soon-to-open Hold Out Brewing. Until the brewery opens in the spring, Austin Beer Run Club is meeting at Better Half Coffee & Cocktails, which happens to be right next door.
If you’re interested in meeting some local runners and beer lovers, just show up any Wednesday, rain or shine at 6:30 p.m.
“It’s a casual 5K run,” Moakley says. “Go as fast or slow as you want. Walk a mile with your dog and turn around, blow it all off and just start drinking beer, whatever. We don’t judge!”
Hill Country Trail Running
When Hill Country Trail Running started, it had the traditional setup of a group: meetings, board members, etc. Now, with over 2000 members in its Facebook Group, the Hill Country Trail Running group has splintered off with only a few of the weekly runs still around.
But David Jacobson has been making the Sunday 5-mile trail run at Bull Creek part of his routine since before 1990 and explains why each member has grown a passion for trail running.
“Trail racing and running have a different ‘vibe’ to them,” Jacobson says. “We give weird names to trails, get our shoes wet, seek out steep climbs and descents on purpose, stubbornly follow inefficient loops, jump in the creek after the run.”
Jacobson also recommends other trailing groups like Austin Dirt Runners if you want to do more than just one run a week or a longer run. But if you’re interested in trail running and eating tacos with a great group of people, head out to Bull Creek any given Sunday. It’s a “no-drop” group, meaning they wait for each member at trail intersections so as to not lose anyone — but, of course, faster runners are welcome to go ahead if they know the way. The Hill Country Trail Running group for Bull Creek starts at 8 a.m. sharp, so try to be there by 7:59 at the latest, and be ready to have a great time — and a few tacos.
The November Project can be found in 52 cities in nine countries around the world. The Austin chapter started in November of 2014 when Gina Rivera decided to bring what she experienced in D.C. to Austin. Now, the group has 30-50 people any given Wednesday or Friday. Both Rivera and Scott Earl, another member who started in 2014, say that the atmosphere is more than just a workout group.
“At 6 a.m., you’re way too tired to wear a mask or have any walls up,” Earl says. “This natural vulnerability and comfort in the community allows us to forge real human connections.”
The group meets at the Texas State Capitol on Wednesdays and at the LBJ Library on Fridays. Both days, they start at 6 a.m. But starting in April, the group will be using the Friday meetups to explore Austin more, meaning the location will change. The goal is to make the city their “playground,” Rivera says.
Sports Bra Squad
Sports Bra Squad started in 2016 as a means to inspire and encourage the founders — Jessie Barnes, Teresa Krammer and Vanessa Mitchell — and their friends to feel confident running shirtless. It jumped to 50-60 members in 2018 and then 150-200 by the end of last year. The running group gets together and runs once a month from May to September. The first event this year will take place May 17 at a location that’s to be announced. Follow them on Instagram or Facebook to stay up to date!
Shoal Creek Striders
When Alyssa Himes moved to Austin, she was forced to leave a close-knit running group behind. Craving that connection and mutual love for running, she decided to start her own right here in Austin. That first day back in June of 2017, five people showed up to join her run. From there, the group has grown with the help of both Alyssa and the other ambitious runners that have stayed with the group.
“Leslie, if you get to know her, she has the ‘think big’ ideas,” Himes says. “She decided that Shake Shack should open another Shack Track & Field chapter at The Domain. So, we collaborated with RunLab and made it happen!”
You can join the Shoal Creek Striders Mondays for hill challenges in Northwest Hills starting from Epoch Coffee on Far West Boulevard, or Wednesdays and Fridays for flatter runs in the North Shoal Creek neighborhoods, starting from the Fresh Plus parking lot on Anderson Lane. Each day they meet at 6:30 a.m. and take off for the run ahead.
RAW Running is #HAF (Hard As F*ck) and #CAF (Chill As F*ck) depending on the day of the week. Meeting Tuesdays and Fridays, the group hasn’t missed a workout since January of 2014 — even having 15 people show up on Christmas day in 2018.
The harder days, starting at Mean Eyed Cat Bar, are Tuesdays and involve anything from 400-meter runs on the track, mile repeats or whatever else they can think up. Fridays, the “chill” days, start at Fleet Feet Austin at the Seaholm Power Plant. This day is just a nice 3- to 7-mile run that focuses on the social aspects of the group.
TMIRCE – The Most Informal Running Club Ever
The Most Informal Running Club Ever, Austin. The group is known for being relaxed and full of people who simply want to do some running. Anna Wood, a member of TMIRCE, explains that in the group, no one second guesses, questions or judges if you have to skip a workout but is excited to welcome you back the next week. And if your own pace means you’re at the back of the pack, they’ll be at the finish waiting for you with high fives. The community it fosters makes you want to give your all anyways, knowing you won’t be judged for whatever you can give on the run.
The group has four meetups: Monday speed workouts at 7:30 a.m. at the Austin High Track. Wednesdays are fartlek runs and are co-hosted with The Rise. Friday hill workouts at 5:12 a.m. at Wilke Hill. And for a casual run that’s choose-your-own-pace-and-distance, Saturdays are brunch runs at Lou’s Bodega on Cesar Chavez. To find out more about the runs, check out their page. The community does all sorts of races and activities together outside of the weekly workouts, so if you’re looking for some training buddies, it may be the fit for you.
St. Elmo Runners
When a few runners training for the Berlin Marathon noticed a lack of running and training groups on the south side, they decided to do something about it. Along with it, PJ Thompson started a blog, Run+Brunch+Bacon, which highlights everything running and brunch related “with a side of bacon” and is the home for St. Elmo Runners group. The running club focuses on all kinds of challenges together. From couch-to-5K, race-specific training and other fitness activities, the group is meant to cheer each other on, prevent second guessing and inspire each other to continue to take on new challenges.
They meet every Wednesday at 6am for a 3-5 mile run after morning updates and stretches and then they finish with a bodyweight workout and coffee at Spokesman. To find out more about their next meetup, check out their Facebook community page. And of course, to read up on fitness and brunch from the south side, head over to the blog.
Shack Track & Field
A Shake Shack lover’s dream. This running club meets up at Shake Shack for a community run of three to four miles that loops back to the start for food and drinks. The meeting spots in Austin are at both the South Lamar and Domain Shake Shack locations at 7 p.m. and happen every second Tuesday of each month. Each group is headed by some of the local running clubs around Austin, such as Shoal Creek Striders. It’s a great place to meet other runners and learn more about other running groups. Plus, after working up a sweat, your first drink is free.