By Meredith Lyons

One of the fastest and easiest ways to get in shape or just drop a few pounds is running. It’s also accessible to just about everyone. Some people take naturally to running and others have to push themselves every step of the way. One way to make running more fun and effective is to join a running club.



Fleet Feet Sports
4762 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 271-3338

With two locations and a third one coming in the Spring of 2013, Fleet Feet is generally accessible to most on the north side (the spring location will be located in the South Loop). Both locations host free fun runs (including girls-only nights), or if you want to be a part of its running team, throw in $75 per year and you’ll have access to training and the cool uniform to wear during races. Both clubs tend to socialize after fun runs or training runs and there are often seminars hosted before or after runs on anything from running health to the newest shoes. Check here for a calendar of events for both clubs.

NJOY Racing
(312) 375-4884

If you’re looking for a more serious approach to running and some serious coaching, you can sign up for group or individual sessions with NJOY Racing. Head coach Kimberly Shah holds numerous certifications and has competed all over the world herself (click here for her full impressive bio). Group training is designed to train athletes for specific races. Rates and information can be found here and click here for individual training rates and times.

Related: Best Indoor Tracks To Exercise In Chicago



Chicago Area Runners Association
549 W. Randolph St., Suite 704
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 666-9836

CARA is the largest and most involved running organization in the Midwest. Members of CARA have access to training programs, educational seminars and, of course, access to hundreds of other runners. Membership levels and benefits are varied and many. Click here for membership prices and the various benefits associated with them. CARA members get discounted entry fees to many races in the Chicago area and discounts to running stores around Chicago.

Lincoln Park Pacers

The Lincoln Park Pacers have been running along the lakefront since 1984 through all of Chicago’s seasons. Membership is a yearly $20 fee and allows access to the membership board, newsletter, monthly dinners and regular weekly runs. Other trail runs around various neighborhoods in the city are organized regularly and are posted in the membership board. Members run the gamut from hardcore marathoners to recreational runners. Runs generally are five miles, but often members shorten them or lengthen them as they see fit.

(Credit: Proud to Run's facebook)

(Credit: Proud to Run’s facebook)

Frontrunners/Frontwalkers Chicago

Frontrunners meets twice weekly at the Totem Pole in Lincoln Park where they begin their walks and runs. The group is very social and supportive (click here for a calendar of events) and many of the members are gay or lesbian. Membership dues are $20 for individuals and $40 for families. Interested runners are invited to join the group for a run or two before officially signing up. During the more mild Chicago months, the group does offer longer training runs lead by an experienced marathoner. After runs, members usually get together for a meal at a local restaurant.

Related: Best CrossFit Studios In Chicago

Meredith Lyons is an actor, competitive fighter and fitness instructor in Chicago who also owns an amazing cat named Jake. Meredith has been writing on Examiner as the Chicago Martial Arts Examiner since 2008. Her work can be found at