Monday, July 29, 2013

Why I Love Group Training

Signing up for races is easy.

Training for a race is hard.

Which brings me to one of my favorite aspects of being a distance runner - group training.

Most people can train for a 5k or 10k or their own. Many can train for a half marathon on their own. But as someone once told me, the marathon is not twice as hard as a half marathon. It's four times as hard.

On the recommendation of Mark and a few others who completed 26.2, I joined the Chicago Area Runners association marathon training program at their Montrose Harbor location in 2008. Starting in mid-June, training officially starts and thus the weekend long run. Though the Saturday long runs is where I met many of my running friends -Sara, Jen, Kim, Jeff to name a few.

Getting used to the Saturday morning training runs took a few weeks. My body wasn't ready to run at 6:30. Nor was it used to getting up earlier to eat, get ready and drive to group training (or bike if I was really motivated that morning). But very quickly, I started to notice the benefits of group training. Which is why I recommend group training to any future marathoner.

Truthfully, now that I've trained for so long with a group, I can't imagine training without it. Granted, you don't need the group for every run. But there are those days where you're mind's giving you excuses to not run (It's too cold/hot, I'm too tired...or maybe, I'm hung over) and the accountability of running with a group helps. Over the years, we've created our own branches of the CARA system - The mileage may be a bit more. The start and end location may vary. And most likely you're starting earlier in the morning. But all and all, we're keeping with the same spirit of group training. Though sometimes the group may be just a pair.

With a group, you share a common goal. Though many members of the group may be training for the Chicago Marathon, some others are planning for races in other parts of the country or world.

Running with a group challenges the voice in your head. You know, that voice that says "It's ok. You can stop and walk." With the group,  you can tame that voice and instead conquer Cricket Hill, the big hill of the North Side.

Though my training experience continues to grow, I don't think I'll ever grow out of group training.

1 comment:

Declan Xavier said...

I'm jealous! When I watched Spirit of the Marathon, I wanted to experience that group.
With that, I don't have the time flexibility to do groups. I am happy I have at least one day a week I get to run with someone at 4:30am lol

Great write up! I wave to one of the runners that is a blogger in a CARA group ..2 ? on Saturdays.