I originally thought to title this post “Going Rogue”, but the parallels with the Sarah Palin book were just too much for me to stomach. Well fine, Sarah. You can take the title and go rile up the crowds at the NRA convo. I, meanwhile, will settle for on-line proselytizing of a different sort. For groups. Running groups!
If you’re a devoted/obsessive Runners World
reader like myself, you know that every month you will see roughly the same running tips. They may be presented as “5 Ways to Your First 5K”, “10 Ways to Lose 10 Pounds”, or “15 Ways to Get Out of a Post-Marathon Rut”, but the tips themselves are consistent:
- Sign up for a race–putting down cash-money will motivate you!
- Download this hot new music to rev up your workout!
- Ditch the headphones and experience the zen of running in nature!
…and, the one I willfully and stubbornly ignored:
- Join a running group/find a running partner! You WILL get out of bed at 5:00 am if you know someone else is sitting at the designated meeting spot, questioning their own sanity and cursing your very existence.
After coming to terms with the fact that the best description for my 2009 San Antonio Marathon performance was “dismal”, I decided to bite the bullet, lay down the cold hard cash, and join a real, no-excuses running and training group. Group of choice: Rogue Training Systems
. Program of Choice: 2010 Fall Marathon Training.
This decision required grappling with multiple fears: I’ll be the slowest runner there. (Finding: False) I’ll run fast enough to keep up, but I’ll be so exhausted from the effort I’ll come to hate running (Finding: False. At least so far.) I’ll never be able to run without my iPod and my Marketplace podcasts! (Finding: False) I’ll feel like the new girl on the first day of school and won’t know anyone and will have to make new friends! Eek! (Finding: True. BUT, it’s amazing how having something like an obsessive commitment to running in common can bring you together with people you otherwise would likely never encounter. Especially if you run the same pace and therefore are stuck with each other’s company for 8.5 miles.)
After just 3 weeks of training, I find myself able to get out of bed before 6 am two days a week (and before 5 am a third day!) with minimal loathing of my circumstances. I’ve found that chats with my new-found running friends make the miles pass much faster than even the most fascinating of podcasts. And as an extra bonus, I’ve found that my average pace when I run with the group is almost 45 seconds faster than my average pace running alone, even though my perceived effort is roughly the same.
So, now I’m a convert of the scariest kind: new and extremely enthusiastic! I suppose I should leave final judgement for after the marathon, but I think I can already say that if you’re at all worried about getting through half or full marathon training on your own, check out groups in your area. Even if you don’t find the same social and performance benefits I have, you’ll at least have the peace of mind that someone is out there at mile 3 setting up a water stop. And that, in a Texas summer, is worth every penny of my registration fees.