New running club seeks to get people together

Jul 16, 2021

Credit Kenai Watershed Forum

There’s a footrace just about every week on the Kenai Peninsula in the summer, from the Pink Cheeks Triathlon in Seward in early May to the Salmon Run Series at Tsalteshi to the Kenai River Marathon in September. It’s pretty easy to get into running—all you really need is a pair of shoes. But keeping at it, or being willing to run alone, can make it more challenging.

A new running club in Soldotna is hoping to address some of those challenges. The Kenai Running Club meets at Skyview Middle School every Saturday at 8 a.m., with runners of all levels welcome.

“The idea is that we find you someone of your own ability, I give you a little training plan, and you can stick to it or not as the case may be, and it’s totally up to you how much you do. If you want to run a long way, run a long way, but we make sure you run with somebody.”

That’s John Bryan, who heads up the club. He moved to Sterling from California in the middle of the pandemic and, when he decided to stick around rather than go back, noticed that there was an unfilled niche for a running club.

Bryan is a professional fitness coach and says he offers some free advice at the club meetings, including shooting video to help people see what they’re doing wrong or right while running.

But it can also be just for fun. He says about 10-15 people have been consistently showing up at the club’s meetings since starting in June, rain or shine, and they run the gamut of skill levels. One of the things he hopes the club will do is connect people of the same skill level who want to run together—after all, recreating alone on the Kenai can be a little risky, especially for trail or mountain runners.

The runs at the meetings themselves are flexible—attendees can choose how long they want to run, on the track or on the trails, or even to walk. Bryan says there’s no pressure to make any certain distance, but one of the ruts people fall into while running is that they run the same route over and over again. Mixing up lengths and times is important for training, too.

“Most people just tend to do one run,” he said. “They have their favorite loop or their favorite 3-4 mile run, and they run it multiple times a week. You do get fit doing that, but you don’t really progress. The art of training is based on progressive overload, in the sense that if you run 3 miles today, you might run 3.1 miles tomorrow. You run 3 miles on the third day, then you want to run a little faster perhaps. There’s elements of varying speed, there’s elements of volume, how much you actually run—some days, you shouldn’t run as much as you have been doing. But the biggest mistake people make is they do the same run consistently all the time.”

The club is open to anyone and meets every Saturday, rain or shine, at the Skyview Middle School track.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at