Austin might feel like one of the hottest places on Earth all summer, but there’s no arguing that the capital of Texas is a runner’s paradise. Between the Butler Hike and Bike Trail, the Greenbelt and Barton Creek, there are plenty of trails to log your miles and bodies of water to cool off in afterward without ever leaving the downtown area. Still, even runners can only get by with a little help from our friends during the triple-digit dog days of summer.
Whether you’re new in town, training for your first marathon or just want to make some new friends, there’s a running group for you nearly every day (or night) of the week in Austin. And remember to join us here at the Statesman in the spring for our Cap10K social run program.
Note that some membership-only groups also offer free, public runs. Contact coaches directly for more information.
Austin Runners Club
The Austin Runners Club is the city’s largest nonprofit, volunteer running organization. The group meets in various parts of the city throughout the week for free, open-to-the-public recovery runs, workouts and long runs.
There are five distinct ARC-affiliated run groups: Monday Night Runners, which meets Monday evenings at 6:30 p.m. at Ready to Run for three to six miles of neighborhood hills; Ship of Fools, a race-focused group for all ability levels that meets for track workouts on Tuesdays, hill repeats on Thursdays and long runs on Saturday mornings with guidance provided by Coach Al Cumming, as well as relaxed pre-dawn runs every Monday and Thursday morning at 5:20 a.m. from the Mopac rock; The Morning Jo's Run Club, a relaxed community run that meets at the iconic "I love you so much" mural by Jo's Coffee on South Congress every Tuesday at 6 a.m.; Rise and Run South Austin, an early bird group that starts at 5:01 a.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays as well as Monday evenings; and Sports Bra Squad, a body-positive women's group that meets once a month during the summer. For more information about each specific group, visit their individual websites.
Endurance enthusiasts are encouraged to go for the “Austin Distance Challenge,” a five-month race series building from a 5K in September to the Austin Marathon or Half Marathon in February. ARC members receive discounts at local races and running stores.
Meets: Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays
Austin Beer Runners
Like beer and running? (You might notice this is a theme…) Join the Austin Beer Runners every Wednesday at Uncle Billy’s Brewery & Smokehouse on Barton Springs Road for a relaxed 5K run on the Butler Hike and Bike Trail. If you get to Uncle Billy’s early -- the group meets at 6:30 p.m. and the run starts at 6:45 p.m. -- you can drop your keys in the basket provided, fill out the custom beer runner menu with your food and/or drink order and hand a server your credit card. Upon your return from the run, there will be a beer ready and waiting for you!
Austin Dirt Runners
Do you prefer the challenge of dirt trails over road running? Check out the Austin Dirt Runners, a free community group affiliated with the Austin Trail Running Company. Join the Facebook group to get the latest updates on social runs on new trails held throughout the week, including every Monday and Thursday. No trail running experience required.
Meets: Mondays, Thursdays
Austin FIT follows the USA FIT program, which was established in Houston in 1989, to train marathon runners and walkers throughout the year. The summer training program starts on June 15, 2019, so there's still plenty of time to join. Experienced coaches provide day-by-day training plans, support for weekly workouts and long runs, plus regular seminars on running topics. One to two USA FIT certified coaches even run with each pace group during weekly long runs! The summer and fall training programs are geared toward preparing for a marathon, while the spring program targets either the Cap 10K or a half marathon.
Meets: Saturdays, Tuesdays, Thursdays
Austin Front Runners
Austin Front Runners is an LGBTQ+ running group that’s inclusive of all fitness levels, from walkers to experienced marathoners. Runs are free and open to the public, but runners are encouraged to become members after participating in three runs. Stick around after the workout for group dinners on Tuesday nights and brunch on Saturdays. The Front Runners host additional social events and participate in local races throughout the year.
Meets: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays
Program director Will Carlson is in his 14th year of adapting the legendary Jeff Galloway's run/walk programs for Austinites. Interested runners can join on a year-round basis, or sign up for a 24-week race-focused training plan.
Born to Run
Austin running guru Paul Carrozza is the head coach of Born To Run, which offers a diverse selection of training programs for both beginner and experienced adult runners, as well as high school and middle school track and cross country athletes. There is currently a summer training program for high school and middle school runners preparing for the fall cross country season. Carrozza is the head track and field and cross country at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School.
Meets: Seven days a week, depending on program
Membership: $50-100/month; $25 for one week middle school XC training program
East Side Beer Runners
If you like to work out and drink beer, this is the group for you. The East Side Beer Runners meet up every Wednesday evening at Hops & Grain Brewery for “a time-based quality workout that’s roughly an hour followed by a free beer from the fine folks at Hops & Grain,” according to their Facebook page.
The most well-known runner in Austin is probably Gilbert Tuhabonye, who can be spotted living his “Run with joy!” motto on the Butler Hike and Bike Trail every day of the week. The founder of Gilbert’s Gazelles escaped civil war in his native Burundi to become a national champion runner for Abilene Christian University. Now Tuhabonye coaches the joy of running to everyone from first-time 5K runners to competitive marathoners. Membership includes two weekday workouts, Saturday long runs, core/strength classes during the week and Sunday morning yoga instruction.
Meets: Varies according to training group, 3 times per week, including Saturday mornings
Membership: $75/month; $35/month for long runs only
RELATED: Running coach to mark 20-year anniversary of tragedy in Burundi
Hill Country Trail Running
Join the Hill Country Trail Runners on Sunday mornings at 7:55 a.m. for a relaxed pace five-miler in Bull Creek District Park. This is a no-drop run, meaning faster runners will circle back to slower comrades throughout the run so everyone finishes together. Join the Facebook group to learn about additional social runs.
Life Time Run South Austin
Life Time gym members and non-members of all paces are welcome at this weekly community run. Meet on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. at Life Time South Austin and Saturday mornings at 7 a.m., which alternates between Life Time and “the rock” at Mopac on the Butler Hike and Bike Trail. Non-gym members are welcome to join for a non-access Run/Ride membership.
Meets: Tuesdays, Saturdays
Membership: Open to Life Time gym members, non-access Run/Ride members
No Excuses Running
Coach Bill Schroeder leads this free community workout group on Mondays at Cedar Valley Middle School in Round Rock and Wednesdays at Brushy Creek Lake Park for interval work. Personalized training plans targeted towards a specific race are available for a fee.
Meets: Mondays, Wednesdays
Membership: Group runs are free; personalized training plans $30-120
Technically, November Project is more of a circuit training workout than a running group, but even runners need to mix it up sometimes. Meet up on Wednesdays at 6 a.m. on the south side of the Capitol and Fridays at 6 a.m. at the Frank Erwin Center and prepare to get your adrenaline pumping.
Meets: Wednesdays, Fridays
RAW is the “work hard, play hard” of the Austin running scene. On Tuesday nights, the free all-comers group hosts a workout at #HAF (“Hard As F***”) pace, then rehydrates with beers at Deep Eddy Cabaret. Friday morning runs are #CAF (“Chill As” … you get it) pace from the Fleet Feet Austin shop in the Seaholm District. Runners of all paces are welcome, and workouts are adjustable according to experience level.
Meets: Tuesdays, Fridays
Whether you’re chasing the Olympic Trials standard or racing your very first marathon, Rogue Running has a program for you. This group is for the athlete who wants to take their running to the next level in a supportive training environment. The monthly membership fee includes day-by-day, personalized training plans designed by experienced coaches, weekly small group speed workouts, core classes and Saturday morning long runs on a supported course.
Meets: Varies according to training group; 2-3 times per week, including Saturday mornings
Membership: $75-105/month; $48/month for long runs only
Shack Track & Field
If I could eat one meal for the rest of my life, it would probably be a double SmokeShack with bacon cheese fries and a salted caramel shake from Shake Shack. It’s a good thing I also like to run. Enjoy the best fast food burger in the world guilt-free at the chain’s monthly track club runs. Meet at either the South Lamar (1100 South Lamar Blvd.) or Domain (11228 Domain Drive) locations at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month for a free, three- to four-mile community run. Your first drink after the run is free!
Meets: Second Tuesday of each month
Shoal Creek Striders
North Austin runners should check out the Shoal Creek Striders to log some early morning miles. This free group meets up every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Fresh Plus Grocery (2917 W. Anderson Lane) at 6:30 a.m. for a relaxed-pace three- to five-mile run.
Meets: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays
Powered by the Austin Duathletes and RunLab Austin, this free meetup group is for distance runners of every level. Tuesdays are workout days, Thursdays are recovery days, and Sundays are for long runs.
Meets: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Sundays
Austin running stalwart Steve Sisson, a former University of Texas track and cross country coach and Rogue Running founder, created Telos Running last year for serious runners who want to maximize performance. Membership includes individualized training plans, one-on-one meetings, race strategy sessions and access to Ethos, a private, online forum for the Telos community.
Meets: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays
The Loop Running Supply
The Loop is the stylish new kid on the block of the Austin running scene. The Seaholm District running apparel and shoe shop shares space with Gilbert’s Gazelles as well as its own free community runs Thursdays at 7 p.m. and Fridays at 6 a.m.
Meets: Thursdays, Fridays
Even commitment phobes need to get their miles in. Join TMIRCE, “The Most Informal Running Club Ever,” on Monday nights (7:30 p.m.) for speed workouts at Austin High, Friday mornings (5:12 a.m.) for hill workouts on Wilke Drive and Saturday mornings (8 a.m.) for a casual run and brunch at Uncle Billy’s.
Meets: Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays
Central Texas is quietly one of the best areas in the south to experiment with trail running. Trail Roots offers individual and group training plans for runners who want to get out of their comfort zone and discover the joys of trail running. Coaching programs include personalized instruction and day-by-day training plans, strength workouts, discounts at local running stores and more.
Meets: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays
Whether you’re training for your first or 50th marathon, Twenty-Six Two (TST) Coach Paul Carmona offers training plans for all types of runners. Members receive personalized training plans with group track workouts, although you do not have to join a training program in order to run with TST. Group track and/or hill workouts are on Mondays and long runs are Sundays.
Meets: Saturdays, Mondays
Membership: $26.50 lifetime membership/training programs from $40/month
Is your run group missing from the list? Drop a note to writer Johanna Gretschel at firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion.