Monday, July 21, 2014

How Or IF I Should Choose A Running/Training Group

I started training for my first half marathon on my own way back in early 2006.  I had done a couple of 5K's, and even a 10K.  I remember my first 10K was that Feb 2006 (Rodeo Run), and I was SOOOOOOOOOOOOO proud.  It was pouring rain and I still remember calling my momma from the car afterwards.
If I remember correctly I ran it somewhere around 1:12.  Those were the beginning days fo sho!  Now my PR for the 10K stands at 58:xx
Anyway...I trained for my first half on my own.  Sure I knew there were other runners out there, I saw them ALL the time as I ran at Memorial park, or up and down Memorial and around the bayou.
Sometimes I of course would see packs of people running together but I had no clue that there was such a thing as a running group let alone a training group!
I don't really remember how I found out about it...I know I was blogging at the time.  And I found a Houston Running Bloggers page/message place.
I still wasn't sure about it all but by the time my first half came around (October 2006), I had met a lot of people in one group and joined.
It was these exact people that convinced me right after that half that since "I was already halfway there I should just sign up for the full in January".
And so I did. 
I continued to train on my own and longer runs with the group; really it was just the last long run before Houston, where everyone meets up and runs the first 20 miles of the course and then you get carted back to your car at GRB.
Then after that first full marathon in January 2007, I wanted to keep going, but I knew I was missing something.
There were quite a few people who read my blog and I think it was through email that I was first told about Kenyan Way.
Anyway, the rest of that KW relationship is history, and everyone knows my love affair with that group!
So yeah moving away for 2  years and losing the group and a LOT of fitness that took me years to get to; kinda ruined me.
But coming back home I was elated to be able to be with KW if only for Saturdays (logistics)!  A lot of my close friends are with KW and I love all the perks.
So for like the first 3 weekends I would drive into town to run with them and it was great.  Even though I feel completely out of shape, it still made me do better than I would on my own, so the competition to keep up and not look as out of running shape than I am...still the getting up at 4:30am, drive 30 min, run 6-7 miles and come home?  Yeah that wasn't making too much sense.
It was suggested that maybe after my runs get longer than 9-10 miles then maybe it would be worth it (I am just SPOILED with the diff routes, and hydration set ups every couple of miles!!)
Anyway, I ran a couple of times on my own at TH: its closer to me and it has water fountains and its shaded.  All pluses, but I could see it getting boring after a while and I miss the group atmosphere (even though I am SO not a social talky talk runner).
Then I met a few runners at work and we started running together at TH.  Better but still not ideal and the same route just ugh.
I do love TH, just not ALL the time :O)
So I began researching for training groups out in the Cinco Ranch area and there are in fact quite a few!  I mean you have Katy, Cinco Ranch and of course Fort Bend county all to service runners of every kind I suppose!
I have reached out to them all now I think...and while some were interesting to where I thought I would 'fit' all were the same in as 'you carry your own fluids'.  Oy.  My one thing over everything else is I HATE CARRYING MY OWN WATER!  Sure I did it when I trained for so long by myself, but once I started with KW ... Well I am just spoiled rotten.
So finally I was down to the one that I thought would probably be the worst fit (its a Galloway training group).  After many emails back and forth with a couple of their directors, communicating my current fitness, past races and fitness and what my goals were going forward and also what exactly was I looking for in a group?
So after seeing their distances/paces/intervals for this past weekend, and me only doing 6 miles (starting next weekend I begin moving towards end of October half so I will be at 8 miles and wanted to cut back from 7 to 6 this week). 
Once they figured where I might be a good fit, I knew what time to show up and where.  I didn't have a lot of hope for this; I am running high min intervals and these guys never go over 3/1's!!! 
But I was SURPRISED when I finished this run FASTER than I would have had I ran my usual Saturday intervals!  What?!
Plus at the end, we did parking garage hill repeats and I actually ended up having a great Saturday morning.

Don't get me wrong, I completely understand and know that Galloway runners have BQ'd and are in fact, faster than some 'run all the way' people I know.  Probably me at this point!  And the book along w the philosophies are solid, tried and true.  Really all I have as far as a goal in mind is to get back below 2:15 for the half.  And I KNOW its totally doable.  I just have to put in the work.  And this group also does speed work and hill work a couple of days a week as well (just like KW).  My next half is end of October, and that is not my time goal race, but I have 4 more between now and first weekend in Feb 2015.  ONE of those I have indeed picked for my 'comeback'.  I don't really expect myself or my desire to beat my current half marathon PR (2:06), but I do want that sub 2:15 again!!!!
Of course there are some downsides to this group:  no every 2 mile water stations; carry your own hydration (which didnt seem to bother me this time for some reason).  With such low interval ratios I wouldn't ever get back up to running a half marathon non-stop (which was completely normal and doable for me pre-Nebraska; and I need to decide if thats even a thing for me anymore, if I can meet my time goals with run/walking).  And I am sure this was just because the 2 guys were trying to 'sell' me but dang they talked the ENTIRE time and expected a conversation back.
This will NOT work out for me long term!  Ha!!
So basically I am going to give them another go this next Saturday; run with a different set of folks and we'll see how that goes.  If we have a constant theme here where everyone is chatty chatty, and expect me to be, then that won't work.  I can carry my own water, but don't expect me to be social when I am actually running.
So this is my last resort I guess you could say.  If this last group doesn't work for whatever reason, then I will start driving in to Houston on Saturdays again so that I can have varying routes, and course support.  With higher mileage Saturdays just around the corner, I have to have something to fall back on to help me get through the remainder of the hot summer running/high mileage days.
Stay tuned!

1 comment:

saroy said...

I've never run regularly with a group, and I often wish I did -- I think it would help tremendously with my motivation/consistency, where I have always struggled. Hmm. Maybe I should try a few of the Clear Lake groups.