Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Joining a Running Group!

Maggie, Jamie, Nicole and I after running the Hudy 14k

Have you thought about starting to run or train for a race but the thought of weeks of training is intimidating? Or have you tried to start an exercise plan but gave up after three or four mornings of rolling over and hitting the snooze button?  These are just some of the reasons you may want to consider joining a running group!

I had been running on my own for about 6 months when I joined a running group last January in order to train for the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half-Marathon. Let me just say that joining a running group was one of the best decisions that I made during this health and wellness journey! While I still enjoy running on my own two times a week, the group runs for my other two runs during the week are by far my favorite.   Here are some of the benefits that I have found to joining a running group:
  • There is a set training schedule which focuses on gradually and properly training your body to run.  At the beginning of every month, my running group sends out a calendar with the month’s planned runs- including suggested mileage for the non-group running days.  That makes it very easy for me to know exactly what I should be doing on each day.

  • Group hanging out before the race!
    Long Runs: Being a part of a running group has made long running days so much easier.  First of all, I hate carrying water with me when I run- I have tried a variety of different methods for carrying water with me and I really do not like any of them.  The running group that I train with not only plans the routes for the long runs (which is extremely helpful in preventing the boredom that comes with running the same route over and over), they also set up water stops along the run. On our extra long runs, they also provide Gatorade and energy supplements like GU and Bloks.  
  • Becoming a faster, stronger runner:  I fully credit running with a running group to making me a stronger and faster runner.  Let’s be honest, if I had to pick a running route, I would pick the flattest course available and I would go the same pace every time.  However, as part of our training , the running group coaches include specified hill days or speed work days- and while I usually whine and complain about them during the run, I know that those are the days that I improve the most and those are also the type of runs I would probably never do on my own. Also, I do not care how long you  have been running, there are going to be times you really want to stop and walk- but there is something about not wanting to be the only one in the group walking that always keeps me running! 

  • Exploring different areas: Even though I grew up in Cincinnati, there are so many areas of town that I never saw until I started running with Bob Roncker’s.  Plus, when you are running with a group of people you can run in areas that you could never run in alone- especially at night. One of the coolest experiences was last winter when we would run from Newport across the Ohio River bridges into downtown at night while the city was all lit up.

  • Nicole, Jamie and I trying to look serious before UC game
     Accountability/Friendships: When I first joined Bob Roncker’s Running group, the only person I knew out of the hundreds of runners was my friend Jonna.  Talk about intimidating! However over the course of the year I have gotten to know so many different people from all different walks of life- and have even made some good friends that I have done things with outside of running! I cannot tell you how many times I have been tempted to not get up at 6:00 on a Saturday morning (especially when it is cold or raining- OR BOTH!), but because I know that my running group buddies will be there waiting for me and will notice if I am not there it is much easier to roll out of bed and lace up my running shoes.  Plus, the miles go a lot faster when you are chatting with friends than when you are just running by yourself!

There are running groups in almost every city- a good place to start is by checking out the local running stores and asking if they sponsor a running group or whether they know of any established running groups.  You can also check out meetup.com to find running groups- or if all fails, just use the trusty standby google!  Some running groups are set up to train for a specific race/distance, while other running groups might train all year round. Also, some groups cost money while others are free. I train year-round with Bob Roncker's in Cincinnati: this year for $250 I get training plans for the entire year, 2 weekly coach led group runs, 4 technical shirts, 3 pair of running socks, running shorts, running vest, free happy hours/barbeques, 10% discount at the running store and entry fees paid for 3 area races.  It has been well worth it! 

Scott & I before our 5K- he has become a total rockstar runner!
If there is not a running group in your area, another idea to stay on track is to find a friend who will support you and encourage you- even if they are in a different city.  One of my best friends from college, Scott, started running a few months ago as well and even though he and his wife Alli live in North Carolina it has been really fun to text each other with our runs and we even met up to do a 5k together in July.  Our next race will be the Turkey Trot in Cincinnati and a half-marathon together is in the near future!  Do not let the fear of failure or lack of accountability stop you from being successful- join a group, find a friend, do whatever it takes to get started and stay with it! 

No comments:

Post a Comment