It’s funny that last night when I started to write about group training vs. individual training, I had no idea that group training would mean so much more for me during today’s run than ever before. Due to scheduling conflicts, my usual running buddies couldn’t make the training run.
I have to admit, I’m a social butterfly. Even when I’m by myself, thanks to social networks, I’m constantly interacting with people. When I started running, I did it with friends. When I decided to train for a half marathon, I joined a training group. When I decided to train for a full marathon, I wouldn’t even consider not being in a group. As determined as I am, I’m lazy and I find that being in a training group with a set schedule and an experienced, knowledgeable coach who you can consult regularly keeps me honest and makes me more accountable for my training.
I have a few friends who train on their own. Either they’ve joined a group previously and know the drill, or they looked up a training plan on the internet and follow it online. I don’t know how they do it. I guess there’s peace in running by yourself getting lost in your own thoughts and getting away from the stresses of work and family, but for me silence is deafening on most days…even if you have music in the background. I’m fine with the lone short run of 5 miles or less, but anything longer than 5 miles, fugetaboutit! I remember doing an 8 mile run last year at the Ma and Pa trail and it was the LOOONGEST 8 miles EVER! I think the marathon flew by faster than the lonely 8 miles. Even when you’re running by yourself in a race, you still have people around you encouraging you to dig deep. There’s energy in masses.
Today…I was on my own…well, sort of. I had the group to act as my security blanket. I was determined to do all 13 miles. Heck, maybe I’ll do 13.1 just to say I ran a half marathon this morning. Here are today’s stats along with the thoughts of yours truly on her own.
Mile 1 – 11:17 – dang, I have to pee already. I hate spot-a-pots. Damn, no hand sanitizer…this is why you run with friends.
Mile 2 – 10:11 – (Dashed out of the spot a pot like my cat running out of his litter box.) Ok, I think my skirt is tucked up in my waist in the back. Where are my girls to fix me?!
Mile 3- 10:35 – need a security blanket. music on. need a security blanket. Focus on girl in burgundy tank. Burgundy tank. Burgundy tank. Is it more purple or is it wine? I want sangria. Burgundy tank. Looks like she’s running in the same shoes. I hear laughter. Miss my friends.
Mile 4- 10:47 – Should be time to GU. Ok, let’s GU (caffeinated). Burgundy is stopping too, I’ll say hi. Doesn’t seem like she wants a running partner. Let’s finish this. Oh yay KERRY! (She started early and was finishing up her run. It was SO GOOD to see her face even if it was just for a fleeting moment)
Mile 5 – 10:28 – huh…I’m feeling good. My pace is faster than normal for long runs. Lets see if I can do a PR today! Where’s burgundy? Why is no one saying hi back? oh God, am I that annoying runner? Hi! Nothing again. Oh no I AM that annoying runner. Hi! Oh lord, I can’t stop!
Mile 6 – 10:18 – hot damn, I’m kicking now! ew…smells like poo around here. I hope I can keep up with this pace. PR here I come. bored. need to find someone to be my security blanket. Focus on guy in front. Hi! Yay! Fast group is running back! Happy faces! Missing my girls.
Mile 7 – 11:25- KEVIN!!!! Yay! someone to chat with! (Kevin is a guy I went to high school with. He was running with his wife and he was a site for sore eyes. I actually met him at about the 6.5 mile part and I slowed down to have some light conversation with him, his wife and his friend Joe)
Mile 8 – 10:51 – Lost Kevin. Just chattin with Joe. Nice guy. Keeping me company. He should do a marathon.
Mile 9 – 10:40 – Joe’s done. On my own again. Losing energy. Time to GU (caffeinated). Playlist is still good. Need to add more songs.
Mile 10-10:53 – Crap. I’m slowing down. What ever happened to burgundy?? So freaking tired. I started too fast. Need my girls!!!!
Mile 11 – 10:26 – not going to make 13.1. Can I walk? Is it horrible to walk??? The range is 11 – 13 miles. I can settle for 12 or I can stop now.
Mile 12 – 10:29 – must keep going. I hate running by myself. my legs are so freaking heavy. need to lose weight. not going to make 13. must push forward. Go to 12.5 and walk back half a mile.
Mile 13- 10:51 – just freaking run. not doing the extra .1, just finish 13. don’t give up. can’t stop. 12.97, 12.98, 12.99, 13.0! DONE! DONE! AND FREAKING DONE!
Total Distance: 13 miles
Total Avg Pace: 10:42
Calories burned: 1595
It was tough, but I was so glad to have a few distractions from time to time although I wish there were more. I really missed my girls who are my security blanket and my most awesome distraction when I run. But, having other runners around was a blessing for this lonely girl today.
So, for those who are not sure whether or not to train by yourself or join a group, I want to say join a group! But really, it’s about your personality and whether or not you like people.
As a beginner runner, the group training not only educated me on all the aspects of running, but it allowed me to forge wonderful life-long relationships with people whom I would have never met otherwise. For me, the training group is FUN! You can cross the finish line together after a tough victory!
Or, you can run with friends and leave them at the finish line after grueling 20-miler (K-baby – you KNOW I love you!)
Either way, the bonds you create with fellow runners and the information you learn from your running mentors and colleagues are priceless.
I currently train with the Charm City Run (CCR) marathon group led by Marie Bolton. It’s fantastic and I highly recommend them to anyone in the area. If you are not in the area, I would recommend looking up running groups and checking them out. CCR allows you to try the program for two weeks to see if it’s for you, so there’s nothing to lose. Definitely inquire about a trial program for the group closest to you. CCR charges $175 for a 16-week program where you meet twice a week in person. If you break it down, it’s less than $5.50 per session…cheaper than a yoga class!
There are groups you can meet up with for free and run together, but you’ll have to ask if there is a set training schedule to follow: http://marathon-training.meetup.com/
While it’s probably too late to get in with a training group for a Fall marathon, it doesn’t hurt to check them out now. Below are links to a few of the training groups that I found.
In-person Training Groups
Charm City Run (MD $175) http://charmcityruntraining.com/pages/training/full-marathon-training/fall-2013-marathon-group/
Sports Backers Marathon Training (VA $175) http://www.sportsbackers.org/events/marathon-training-team
Jeff Galloway Training (Nationwide price varies) http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training_groups/list_cities.php
Team In Training (Nationwide charitable organization. Training is free, but you must raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) http://www.teamintraining.org/
DC Road Runners (DC $100 – $110) http://www.dcroadrunners.org/2013-fall-trainings/2013-fall-marathon-training.html
Virtual Training Groups
New York Road Runners ($174.99 for Virtual training program) http://www.nyrr.org/train-with-us/training-programs/ing-new-york-city-marathon-training-plan
Your 26.2 (FREE) http://www.yourmarathontrainingplan.com/