Monday, January 13, 2014

They said, come join the lot of us. And I said, I just don't know.

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?


Christy @ My Dirt Road Anthem: A Runner's Blog said...

that is a tough decision, I think I would do it if I lived close enough to something like that, and who knows maybe you have a 3:30 marathon hiding inside you :)

I wouldn't have known what to do on a time trial either. Nice two miles!

Jodi H said...

This is definitely a tough decision to make. I think you are doing the right things by looking at the why and why nots. Can you possible just try it out and then if it isn't for you, get your money back? Just a thought.

Unknown said...

Tough. The price is high compared to here for a training program. $50 for Second Wind. But you get use on an indoor track (and not a small one). Bonus. Can you go to one or two practices for a try to before you buy? I think Second Wind would welcome a newbie to the group no matter how fast or slow just to see if it suits you first. You keep going you pay. Bring your own water and aid for the run while you try it out.

Your concerns are very valid. Are there any other runners that will be in your speed class? Will it be mainly aimed at beginners?

The 3.30?? Well, if you have the time commitment I think you could do it. I seem to remember running a sub 7 minute mile with you a few years back. :)

Personal thoughts - I think 4 might be a little slow for you. I am thinking you can do a 3.45 - 3.50. I know you have the speed. It is just building up the stamina and endurance. Being able to run through that lactate level for 10-15 minutes and burn yourself on some good fast finishes on a few of your long runs.

Now my new soap box. Run some trails. They are hard. They work wonders. I plan on a trail run every weekend if I can. They hurt. they are tiring. They are rewarding. They will make your road runs easier. But remember, walk the hills. Your calves and quads will thank you later. Even the 2 100-milers I have been running with walk. And walk often.

Raquelita said...

Oooh! This is a tough decision. I can't seem to get motivated to go to the one running group that I know about here. In part it's because they only run once a week in the evenings, and I'm not a huge fan of non-morning running.

Jen Feeny said...

No clue how to execute a time trial, so I say well done!!!

As for joining our not, well, after beginning my own group all I have to say it, JOIN! :) I honestly can't believe I ever ran without a group, having all that support and knowledge has made returning to running after injury such a joy and now I have an seemingly unlimited pool of friends. Something I have been lacking since moving to our town.