Running

6 Philadelphia-Area Running Groups You Can Join for a Good Cause

Make your miles matter with these running groups — all of which benefit awesome causes around Philly.


Photograph courtesy The Monster Milers.

Welcome to Run Month at Be Well Philly! Every week, we’ll bring you the best and the latest on info on running around Philadelphia. Stay tuned for more great running articles!

As most Philly runners can attest to, finding the motivation to lace up those sneakers and start pounding the pavement can feel like an impossible task during these crazy humid summer months. When it’s the heat of the day and the sun’s beating down (and there’s ice cream in your fridge), why would anyone choose to go for a run?

Well, with these seven Philly running groups, the reason’s pretty obvious. These groups run for awesome causes — including fighting homelessness, empowering girls, and helping shelter dogs find homes. So pick your favorite, sign up, and we promise you’ll have even more motivation to hit pavement going forward.

Back on My Feet

What they do: Back on My Feet is a national organization dedicated to helping those experiencing homelessness to reintegrate into society. They use triweekly early morning runs as a way to foster confidence, accountability, and a strong sense of community between their members and volunteers. If, after 30 days, a member has attended 90 percent of the runs, they are provided with educational support, job training, and housing opportunities. Since its founding in 2007, the organization has helped thousands across the country.

How to join: Back on My Feet has four teams in the Philadelphia area (West Philly, Center City, South Philly, and point Breeze). People interested in volunteering must be able to commit to at least one run a week (all runs take place at 5:30 a.m.) and must attend an hour long orientation prior to their first meeting. Typical runs are anywhere between one and five miles, and runners of all paces and experience levels are encouraged to come out. Register for an orientation here.

The Monster Milers

What they do: If you believe that dogs are the best friends any runner could ask for, then you will fit right in with The Monster Milers, a Philly-based organization dedicated to connecting shelter dogs with local runners so they get the exercise they need. In addition to organizing fundraisers, adoption events, group runs at shelters, and the Rescue Run 5k, the group offers training for those interested in becoming dedicated volunteers.

 How to join: If you want to support the Monster Milers (or if running with dogs and other dog-lovers just sounds like a dream come true), come out to one of the three-miles-long, all-paces-friendly shelter group runs. These take place at a variety of locations and times, so check out this calendar to find the one that works best for you. If you decide that you want to make more of a commitment, you can become a volunteer (find out when the next volunteer orientation is here).

Team Humane League

What they do: Team Humane League is a running club for those interested in animal activism and advocacy, who train for athletic endeavors together to raise money to rescue farm animals. If you’re interested in discussing and debating these issues while working out, then this is the group for you.

How to join: Just show up! But times and locations vary week to week, so join the Facebook group to get all the updates.

Students Run Philly Style

What they do: Students Run Philly Style works with roughly 1,200 youth (ages 12 to 18) every year, pairing them with adult volunteers who serve as both mentors and training partners. Together, they train for either a full or a half marathon, a process which instills the runners with confidence and teaches them the importance of determination and perseverance. The results of this program are pretty astonishing: Among other things, 41 percent of participating students have raised their GPA and 50 percent have experienced a decrease in violent behavior.

How to join: People who are interested in becoming a mentor can either start their own team or join an existing one. Mentors who are accepted by the program are responsible for leading two to three practices every week in the months between March and November. If interested, contact Ieshia Nelson at inelson@studentsrunphilly.org for a leader enrollment form.

Achilles International

What they do: Achilles International offers a supportive community in which disabled and able-bodied athletes work together and push each other to meet their fitness goals. Everyone, regardless of their fitness ability, is invited to come out for the weekly run/walk.

How to join: Runs take place every Saturday at 9 a.m. There’s no need to sign up, but volunteers should fill out this form and bring it to their first meeting. Experienced guides will be at every run to help train new volunteers.

Girls on the Run

What they do: Is there anything that running can’t do? Not at Girls on the Run, an organization that uses running as a tool to empower and to help build strong, confident, resilient young girls. Led by a small group of coaches, each team of girls trains for the end-of-season Girls on the Run 5k, all while making their way through a curriculum focused on building confidence, self-awareness, and a multitude of other life skills.

How to join: If inspiring young female runners is your calling, find your local council and apply to be a coach. If coaching feels like too much of a commitment, Girls on the Run also offers other ways to get involved! You can sign up to be a running buddy, joining the girls at their final 5k, or, if you are training for a bigger race, you can register to be a SoleMate, and use your miles to raise money for Girls on the Run.

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