When I started running eight years ago it was purely to lose weight. That was it. Then someone asked me to register for a 5K with them, so I did. And then I found longer races, and ran them. And through it all I loved the training, but I lost my love of just running.
During the past year I learned to love running again in one of the most beautiful, running-weather-friendly cities on the planet, but the impetus to set goals and truly train was lacking. G suggested I join a local running group – something I had considered in other places I’ve lived, but never done. About six weeks ago, I joined the Seaside Striders, a group that meets twice a week: once for speedwork and once for a weekend long run. So far, I LOVE it, and here’s why:
I love surprises
I love not knowing exactly what the workout will be until I arrive. That gives me zero time to dread something or imagine that I can’t do something that will be prescribed to the entire group. Talk about peer pressure! We’ve been focusing on hill repeats, followed by speedwork for the past few weeks and I can already tell it’s making a difference in my other weekly runs. It also made a huge difference in my overall performance at the La Jolla Half Marathon last month.
I’m not a great solo runner
For the past six months or so, I’ve done solo long runs on the weekends while G is up before the sun and training for the San Diego 100. Though I’ve only done three long runs with the running group thus far, it has made it easier to get up and hit the road knowing that a larger group will be training along the same route. It’s also nice to have someone else select the route each week, because I am a runner of habit and tend to choose my trusty, regular routes when left to my own devices.
I’m inspired by others
While I have new short- and long-term goals, my ultimate goal is to be a good bit faster than I currently am. I really think being a part of such a dynamic group of runners will push me in all of the right ways. At last night’s workout we talked a lot about our team mantra: “Never outrun your joy of running”, and several people shared what being part of the group means to them. For someone who has never been part of a formal running group, I know being around faster runners will challenge me in a positive way.
I’m planning to train hard for the America’s Finest City Half Marathon (which G and I ran last year) in August, with my sights set on a faster marathon time this fall.
How about you? Are you part of a running group? What do you love about it?