Inclusivity in Running: Embracing Diversity, Pace, and Passion

August  8, 2023

Coach Janelle

When it comes to the world of athletics, I’ve always been a firm believer that everyone belongs on the track, trail, or road, regardless of pace, gender, race, or language. In particular, the sport of running, at its core, should embrace inclusivity. Why? Because running transcends physical ability. It's about the journey, the sense of achievement, and most importantly, the shared love for the sport.

Inclusivity in sport

Throughout my own running journey, there have been moments where I questioned my place in a group run if I couldn't match their pace. But isn't it ironic? The idea of being left out due to pace in a sport that celebrates the strength of the human spirit felt counterintuitive. As I grow my own running community, I want to eradicate this unspoken pace hierarchy. If a running group mandates speed as an entry criterion, I'd argue it's not the group for you.

Imagine, participating in a running event that truly epitomizes the spirit of inclusivity. Runners of all levels congregating, not caring about who's faster or slower, but celebrating their shared love for running. This sense of unity, where pace does’t dictate your worth, resonates with me deeply.

So, what needs to change? For starters, running groups need to practice what they preach. Welcoming all paces shouldn't be a mere slogan, but rather a philosophy that manifests in their group dynamics. If everyone isn't around the same pace, adjust the run. Slow it down, or split the group into subgroups where even the run/walk or walk-only individuals feel welcomed. The essence lies in fostering a sense of belonging.

I’m not here to pinpoint certain groups or individuals, but rather shed light on the type of running community I envision – a community where everyone feels welcome, irrespective of gender, race, pace, or language. The beauty of running lies in its ability to bring diverse people together for a shared passion.

The role of coaches and group run leaders is crucial in promoting inclusivity. We bear the responsibility of ensuring that our running communities are genuinely welcoming and inclusive.

Collaboration in running
Motivated In Motion Running Community

Another aspect we can't overlook is the connection between inclusivity in running and mental health. If an individual feels compelled to change their running style, route, or speed to fit in, then that group isn't truly inclusive. In an inclusive group, you should be able to show up as you are and relish the joy of running.

To anyone feeling left out or unwelcome in a running group, I urge you to pause and reflect. If a group requires you to run a specific pace, or imposes any constraint based on your identity, is it truly the community you want to be a part of? Remember, you should never have to change who you are to belong. You run, therefore you belong. Any contrary notion is a contradiction to the inclusive spirit that should define the running community. 

Let’s champion a culture where pace is merely a number, not a determinant of your place in the community. Let's champion inclusivity in running.

Want to join an inclusive running community where all levels and abilities are welcome? Click the link below to join us!