I love my training group!
I had done three half marathons when Jessica caught me at a weak moment and I said I’d do a marathon with her. She recalls this series of events a bit differently. After agreeing to a marathon (which I had always said I would never do), I realized that being a grad student with a job meant I would never run on my own. I just wouldn’t be able to convince myself to put in the miles required for a marathon. Wake up to run 20 on my own? No way.
So I started looking around for training programs in or near DC. There are quite a few. I settled on the program run by Fleet Feet in Adams Morgan. I really don’t remember why I chose this program anymore, but I know I spend several days reading about the different groups in the district. So I signed up.
I was so nervous. I had only run with somebody a few times and it was usually, “hey, wanna run this Saturday?” And then we’d run a couple miles and then eat breakfast. Not really running. I run for myself. I like the me time. Spending me time with other people means it’s not me time.
That first Saturday of training we did six miles. I ran with a couple other women who were super friendly and the six miles flew by. Easy peasy. After a couple weeks we settled into a rhythm and I had my regular little group that I ran with, a few women who ran about the same pace and we all got along well. 14 miles go by in a flash when you’re in good company.
Now the thought of running more than 8 or 10 miles alone sounds terrible. I can’t imagine training by myself again. Apart from company, a training group has lots of other benefits that you can’t get on your own:
- A training plan. I would spend weeks looking at all sort of training plans comparing the benefits of each one before deciding which to follow. This way, I don’t have to. I just follow the same plan as everyone else.
- Accountability. If you run with the same people and you miss your runs, you’re not going to be able to keep up. And then you have to run alone. Sad.
- New workouts! The group I run with has three organized runs a week. Long runs on Saturdays, track workouts on Tuesdays and group runs or tempo runs on Thursday. Speed workouts were completely new to me.
- Friends! You get to know people really well when you run with them several hours a week.
- Discounts! This is definitely a secondary, or even tertiary, benefit, but Fleet Feet as well as lots of other running stores offer a discount to people who participate in their training programs.
- Community. For being known as a solitary sport, runners sure are social. Getting to know other runners is great. Other people know the pains and joys of training and it’s fun to walk into a store in the middle of our nation’s capital and have most of the staff recognize you and greet you by name.