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 do you run with a local club?
Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

do you run with a local club? Posted: Mon May 01, 2006 10:58 am 

Do you run with a running club, team, or group, or alone? To date I've done all my running and training alone, but I'm starting to think that joining a local group would be smart. Ideally, I'd get some more motivation, meet some like-minded people, and learn from more experienced runners.

The local groups seems to come in two varieties, clubs and teams. Clubs are primarily social, with some number of weekly group runs, and occasional special events like relay races or holiday dinners. The ability level of the members covers the whole spectrum. While some members do local races, the club is not a racing entity.

The local teams, on the other hand, are all oriented towards competition in the Pacific Association USATF race circuit. Their main reason for existance is to enter teams in these races. From what I can tell, most of them are very fast runners for whom national championships and olympic trials are not unrealistic goals, typical 5K times for men my age are 15-17 minutes. They may have weekly group workouts, or may be all solo trainers who only meet at races.

If you've run with either type of group, how did you like it? What did you get out of the experience? Any great advice on what to look for?


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: do you run with a local club? Posted: Wed May 03, 2006 9:10 pm 

I ran with a local club this evening. The group was huge! Probably 40-50 turned out for the run, which I'm told was typical. People seemed quite friendly and talkative, and enjoyed swapping stories. There was a really wide range of ages and paces-- I was among the faster people, probably, but there were still plenty of people who were much faster than me. We ran 5 miles, and I ended up running it way too fast for an easy run. With so many people, I guess I just went into race mode by default. The only bad part is that it's about a 1-hour round-trip drive for a 45 minute run, which doesn't seem like the best time investment.

I'm also planning to do a workout with one of the USATF teams here this weekend. I exchanged a couple of emails with a friend of a friend on one team, who encouraged me to come check it out. He told me that I'd be slower than the average runner, but still fast enough to fit in. What he didn't tell me (but I later discovered on their web site) is that most of their runners are in their 50s, and their oldest guy is 84! So not only will I be getting my butt kicked, but it'll be by guys 2 decades my senior. That's fine with me, though-- if they're faster than me, then hopefully I can learn from them.


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: do you run with a local club? Posted: Thu May 04, 2006 5:21 pm 

I found one more club possibility: there's another local for-profit training company that seems geared towards more serious runners. I just spoke to their coach, who is a 2:20 marathoner and Nike Farm Team member. Their group is mostly marathoners with PRs in the 2:50 to 3:30 range. They do two group track workouts a week, and put together a personalized daily plan for the other days. So far so good. The bad news is that the workouts are weekday mornings at 6:00am, and the program costs $100/month. Doh!

OldManRunner
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Rochester, NY
Joined: 28 Nov 2004
Posts: 262

Re: do you run with a local club? Posted: Fri May 05, 2006 6:55 pm 

$100 a month! Yikes! And 6:00am workouts that you have to drive to get to, so you're actually waking up at about 4:30 or 5:00?! No, I don't think so. Now, getting my butt kicked by people significantly older than me...that sounds more like it!

Like you Rickshaw, I've always done essentially all my runs alone. I am thinking of doing some of my 20+ milers this summer with an informal group for the first time, but the idea of paying $100 a month just seems like too much. There's a program run in my area each year that provides speedwork coaching for about 6-7 weeks that's sponsored by tre area's dominant track club, and I think a) you have to be a member, and b) it costs maybe $25 above and beyond that, but even with all that you'd be paying maybe $50 a year. Yes, it would be very cool to be coached by a 2:20 marathoner and Nike Farm Team member, but $1200 a year and 4:30am wake-up calls twice a week is far more serious than my running will ever be. A running group should be for interaction with like-minded people so you can lend each other moral support through tough workouts...it shouldn't be something you dread and resent paying too damn much for.


BGibbsLMT

Southington, CT
Joined: 12 Dec 2004
Posts: 68

Re: do you run with a local club? Posted: Fri May 05, 2006 10:50 pm 

Almost all my runs are solo. It's hard to find other people with my work schedule who like to run trails. Twice a year a group of us gets together for a run with beer and doughnuts at the organizers house after. Lots of fun but very slow.

Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: do you run with a local club? Posted: Sat May 06, 2006 12:28 pm 

Does your work schedule keep you traveling a lot? Or do you mean there aren't any groups running at the right time of day for you? Around here, most of the clubs seem to run on weekends, or else at some ungodly hour of the morning on weekdays, to fit around everybody's work schedule. At first it seemed there were very few groups near me, but the more I dig, the more I find. It seems that the groups who officially meet in some semi-distant town often have unofficial subgroups that run closer to me.

Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: do you run with a local club? Posted: Sat May 06, 2006 5:13 pm 

I did a workout with the "old guys" team this morning. HOLY #&@*!!! I don't think I've ever pushed myself so hard in any run or race.

It was a 36x200m relay race, with three person teams, so each person did 12 legs of 200m each. With only a 1/3 duty cycle, I figured I'd have plenty of time to rest between legs while my teammates did two, so I'd be able to run each leg hard. I blasted the first couple of legs nearly all-out. By the third, I realized that was a big mistake. By six legs, I was hurting really bad. After 7 or 8, I was really suffering, and would absolutely have ended the workout if there had been any polite way of doing so, but I was in the middle of a race! By the time I finished the 12th leg, I was in a world of hurt unlike anything I'd ever felt in an interval workout. My chest was burning up, and all I could do was stagger and wheeze. It was the one and only time I've ever felt like puking after a run. It took me a good 5-10 minutes before I began to feel human again. If I can survive a few more sessions like that one, I think I could definitely get faster.

The ages of the runners on the team probably averaged about 50, but everything from 30 to 70 (?) was represented. There were only a couple of people closer to my age, and only one guy near my age and speed. There were also plenty of 60-somethings who smoked me good. I don't think being the "youngster" on the team would be an issue.

OldManRunner, I agree with you about $100/month being mighty steep! Most of the other clubs around here are more like the one you mentioned, with annual dues of $25 or so. But those are basically just groups of like-minded people meeting up, and the money just goes for t-shirts or something. I still might consider the expensive coached group if the coaching were worth it. Compared to the amount I spend monthly on tv, or to the astronomical cost of day care, it's not so bad. Everyone I've spoken to about it says that you got lots of detailed, individualized coaching attention. In contrast, with the team I ran with this morning, there is no coaching at all. I'm going to do a few (free) workouts with the expensive coached group next week, and see if it seems worth it. Maybe I could run with them for one marathon training cycle or something, get some individualized coaching, and then switch to another group.


OldManRunner
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Rochester, NY
Joined: 28 Nov 2004
Posts: 262

Re: do you run with a local club? Posted: Mon May 08, 2006 6:21 pm 

Well, yeah, I suppose it might be interesting to see what you could accomplish through one marathon training cycle, just to see how much of a difference it made. And certainly a few free workouts would be worth investigating. Let us know how it goes!

BGibbsLMT

Southington, CT
Joined: 12 Dec 2004
Posts: 68

Re: do you run with a local club? Posted: Tue May 09, 2006 8:48 pm 

I work Tues. through Sat., Sun is for family. That leaves Mon. for long runs (10 plus miles), Tues I have a long lunch break so I can run for 90 min. And whatever mornings I get up early enough to run for an hour.

Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: do you run with a local club? Posted: Tue May 09, 2006 9:49 pm 

BGibbsLMT wrote:
I work Tues. through Sat., Sun is for family. That leaves Mon. for long runs (10 plus miles), Tues I have a long lunch break so I can run for 90 min. And whatever mornings I get up early enough to run for an hour.
In my area, there are several clubs with weekday workouts at 6:15am or thereabouts, so people can workout with the group and still get to their jobs at the normal time in the morning. It can't be good for your sleep schedule, though!

BGibbsLMT

Southington, CT
Joined: 12 Dec 2004
Posts: 68

Re: do you run with a local club? Posted: Mon May 15, 2006 10:23 am 

I also just like running alone.

Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: do you run with a local club? Posted: Mon May 15, 2006 8:50 pm 

They posted the splits and results from that killer 36x200 relay workout I did the other weekend. http://www.wvjs.org/sat.html Scroll down a little to see the individual splits, and my name (spelled wrong) Chamberlain. I ran the first 200m in 34 (!) before getting it together and averaging about 40 for the rest. I actually held it together much better than I'd thought. I felt like I was on the verge of death halfway through the workout.

My two teammates and I all ran under our predicted times, yet our team finished fourth in the overall race. What kind of handicapping is this? :-)


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: do you run with a local club? Posted: Mon May 22, 2006 12:11 pm 

I finally had a chance to workout with the expensive, semi-professionally trained running group this morning. Waking up at 5:30 in the morning isn't much fun! I actually went there at the same time last Tuesday, before realizing I had the schedule wrong, and there was no workout that day. Woke up extra-early for nothing... doh! Fortunately this morning I had the right day, and found the group with no problem at Stanford's track.

It's a pretty small group, maybe a dozen people or less. Most people were doing their own things or working out in pairs, rather than having one big group workout, so I didn't get to chat with many people. I talked with the coach for a while, who seems like a real nice, knowledgeable guy. He asked me about my past running experiences, PRs, and goals, and we talked a little about my fall marathon plans.

We warmed up with some easy jogging, then about 10 minutes of form drills like toe/heel running, knee lifts, butt kicks, etc. For the workout, he paired me with another (faster) guy, and we did a 2 mile tempo run around campus, followed by three 300 meter repeats at increasing intensity. We finished up with a mile barefoot on the grass, which I'd never done before.

It was a pretty good workout, but I probably won't run with them again. The early morning weekday timing is too painful, and schedule conflicts with other weekday appointments too frequent. If I did join, I'd probably only make it to half the workouts at best. I also liked the "everyone together" camraderie of the other group more than having everyone do their own thing, even if doing your own thing makes better training sense. And of course today's group also costs and arm and a leg to join. The only big benefit to this group is that I'd get custom-tailored workouts, and lots of personalized feedback and advice. With the other group, you just show up and run hard, and there's no coaching.


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