I have a big decision to make. Is this the right time to join a running group? And, have I found the right group for me?
A few weeks ago my neighbor invited me to attend an info session for our local chapter of USA Fit. I dutifully checked them out online. The registration fee is $110, which gives you group runs on Saturdays for about 4 months, with pace group coaches, and a 1-year membership to the Olympic Oval (indoor track that's 3.5 laps to a mile--love!!). This past Saturday we headed to the Oval to hear all about it.
After the obligatory greetings and info sharing, we did time trials. This I did not anticipate. Honestly, I had no idea what was happening for a while. The coaches led us in a half-ish mile warm-up then stepped off the track, leaving us to do our time trial. What did that mean? Our fastest 2 miles? Race pace for some distance? An easy run? Tempo pace? I had no idea, so I just let loose and ran. After a few minutes I was running alongside a guy I'd guess was about 20, and clearly we were both having fun and neither of us was going to blink first. So....we ran. We ran 2 miles in 15 minutes flat. Uhhh...was I supposed to do that? I still honestly don't know, but I'm guessing not.
Why? Because the coach came up to me after and told me I should aim for a 3:30 marathon. I laughed out loud. I told him that I'm hoping to sub-4 in my next marathon or 2, and have no ambition to run a 3:30. Like I said, uhhhhh. Huh.
Aside from setting them straight on pacing if I do join, I just have a lot of questions. More reasons for and against joining come to mind, but I'm keeping it to the top 3 of each.
Reasons to join:
1. We are still pretty new here, and while we've made some real progress on finding friends and starting to get involved in the community, we still have a long way to go before this place feels like home. Joining the group would be an opportunity to make new friends.
2. It would motivate me to sign up for a late spring half, which would be healthy. Without a training plan, and with winter weather happening, I've found it a little harder than usual to find motivation to run. A concrete goal would help.
3. The coach seems like someone who could push me to the next level. I may be able to do this on my own to some extent, but a group never hurts.
Reasons not to join:
1. The coach seems to have some delusion about my potential race pace. This sort of intimidates me.
2. I realize this somewhat contradicts the above point, but the group seems to be geared more toward beginners. I'm a little concerned about ending up in a very small pace group and not getting to know the larger group, since they have different coaches.
3. As it turns out, my neighbor can't join this season, so I'd be going in solo.
So, what do I do? How do you know if you've found the right training group? Should I just go for it? It's only 1 season, right?