August 24, 2011

Group Running 101

I have a running group!!!! It feels so awesome to say that after so many years of training alone. I am definitely the type of person that enjoys a social run, especially with my fellow gender. That's why I am so, so pleased about the dynamics of my new weekly running routines.

Long before it became public, when I was applying for jobs, I kept my running buddy- Sam, in the loop. Sam and I had become close at the Ragnar Relay. We are similar in speed, me a tad faster, but she's a tad younger. Sam's husband, Daniel is the same age and speed as TP. It makes for the perfect running quad! Two new college grads just moved to town, both 22- one a collegiate runner, the other a very accomplished triathlete- Sam (another Sam) and Courtney. Brad is a tad older, but we share the same goal- Sub 3. It's really interesting to see where runners' strength and weaknesses are. For example, Brad can wax me on pretty much any tempo or speed workout that is less than 8 miles. We go past 8 and I'll leave him in the dust. The cool thing is that I use him to help pull me along on the workouts, and he uses me for pacing on the LR. There's also a few other ladies and gentlemen, but those are the people similar to my speed that I actually do the running with on most group runs.

There are 4 group running options throughout the week- Tues, Thurs, Sat, and Sun. Tuesday is tempo or repeat day. There's a GREAT path that for 3 miles has every 400 meters marked. This allows us to do any typical track workout OFF the track. It's completely off-limits to traffic with no intersections, making it perfectly safe. If we don't do the repeats, there's a really tough 10K course that we run as a tempo. I have yet to have a good workout on this course. I usually end up going out too fast and bonking on the steep hills.

Thursday is another hilly run. Some people use this as a workout and do the hill repeats, others do an easy run from anywhere in 6 to 10 miles. I've done both, depending on my weekly workout schedule.

I have not been to a Saturday run yet. TP and I have been doing a lot of kayaking, and I sometimes do my own tempo on Saturdays.

Sundays are the long run. TONS of people show up for this. Last week there were nearly 20. After about 2 miles, though, everyone is broken up into groups based on based (happens naturally). The course can be anywhere from 8 to 14 miles. If I'm doing more, I'll meet one or two other runners before the meeting time. That way we can all finish together with me meeting my mileage goal. I love, love, LOVE the LR. I'm amazed at how fast the time goes by. We start and wind through the hills, then run right along the bay about the time the sun is rising. The bay is also the ONLY place in the area where you *might* feel a breeze. If you run in the south in the summer, you know the value of a breeze. You know, every oven needs a fan. I keep meaning to bring my camera on a LR and take some pics. It's beautiful!

I really only have 2 negatives surrounding the group runs, and these are FAR outweighed by the benefits. For example:

Sunday we always discuss the plan for Tuesday's workout. This allows everyone to plan their training week, and put in their thoughts about what workout would fit everyone's needs. On Sunday, we decided to do repeats on the bike/run path. Mentally and physically, I had prepared for this. Of course, I get there a tad late and Sam tells me that everyone changed their mind b/c of the heat and we're going to do a tempo instead. Misery in heat is misery in heat, but those are just my thoughts. Anyway, I hadn't brought my Garmin and I really *hate* going off other people's training paces. (I use an old school wristwatch, similar to Timex for my repeats.) Anyway, we are off. We do the warm up and Sam and Sam decide to just make it an easy day. The rest of us are in 3 mini groups, based on pace. I go with the fastest group. About 2 miles in, I really start to feel it. I start to slow down a bit, knowing the other group is right behind, so there's no way I can get lost and will have someone else to run with. So... I keep going. The first group takes about 2 turns and are now out of sight. (The course is very turny.) The 2nd group doesn't show... and just like that I am on an unknown road. And every street looks exactly the same. Grrr. I run here and there, still not spotting anyone. My watch time is past an hour, and I know the group has returned now. Finally I see the bay, and know *somewhat* where I am. The problem is, it takes me another 10 minutes to get back, and by the time I return, they've sent out a search party for me... And yeah....

Another downfall to these group runs is actually only on Sunday. I will call her Nutrition Lady. Luckily, she is not very fast, and doesn't run very far, so we are only together for the opening two miles. It's amazing how much can be said in these 2 miles. Apparently, she has a non-running nutritionist that has told her carbs are bad. She feels the need to basically lecture us on the carbs we eat. I made the mistake of speaking up the first time I met her, saying there was no way in heck I was attempting any sort of mileage on a low-carb diet. Well, that just got her going even more. Basically telling me that carbs = fat. The comical part about this is that she's actually bigger (read: belly fat) than the girls in my *core* running group. So anyway, I just sloughed it off for 2 miles and moved on. After she was out of sight, everyone told me that she does that every week and they've all learned to just tune out every word she says. Haha.

Here's an example of how I incorporated the group runs into my training week last week:

M: easy 8 alone
T: easy 8 in the a.m.
8 with 4 x mile (6:05-6:07) with group in the p.m.
W: easy 11 alone
T: easy 8 on hills with group
F: easy 10 alone
S: 13 tempo w/ 9 at 6:52 alone
S: 19 with the group

I think it's really the perfect balance of running alone and group runs! It's a good, good running life!


  1. Woohoo! That's awesome that you are benefiting so much from a group. I had to LOL a little bit when you said TONS came out for your long runs. At some of the clubs in the DC area, "tons" of people can be 100+ on group long runs, I kid you not.

  2. Way cool! Your new life has so many perks, it's wonderful to read. Lol on Nutrition Lady, that'd drive me nuts.

    Wowza to Elizabeth above...100+ in a group? Dang.

  3. Cheers to that! :)

    My theory is your best running comes from some solo running (or as I call it, therapy)plus having the support system, others you challenge often w/o knowing it, and someone to challenge you.

    And, yes, pics please! Now I may be the one who's a little envious!! ;)

  4. Anonymous8/24/2011

    Glad you found some folks to train with! I know you are marathon-focused... but those mile repeats should be good for a sub 19 5K if they ever let you have a cool day down south :D

  5. yup, NYC we'd get 100+ runners some saturdays just from 1 club.

  6. Nice! I also used to do a lot of lone running, and really dig the camaraderie of running with groups when I'm able now. Too funny about Nutrition Lady...people like that will just always believe whatever they want to believe even when met with logic.