Running with a Group

My running mindset has changed a lot ever since I joined my local running club a couple years ago. I used to almost exclusively run by myself, occasionally with friends but I didn’t understand the point: we’re running so we can’t chat, we’re probably both listening to music anyway and we can’t keep our paces the same.

Now, I prefer running with a group. I also rarely run with music, even when running alone (though I still love to make motivating playlists for races), and carry on some of the best conversations while running. I’ve made this almost-180 shift by discovering the power of a group. Running together makes the miles pass by quicker–sometimes we don’t even think about them–and magnifies the sense of accomplishment.

We train in pace groups as a club, and I know it’s the only way I had the discipline to accomplish some of our longest marathon training runs. I’m leading a half marathon pace group this season, so I do actually have to keep an eye out for the route (no more cruising along in the “peloton”), but I am still getting many of the other benefits.

When I thought about the extra miles I had to do alone after today’s group training run, I reached a clear decision. No solo long runs this season. I’ll do what I can with groups and friends and make the rest of the gains cross training. That’s how today’s planned 20 became 10 (6+4), and why I feel great about it: running with a group keeps running fun.

Mountain High

Summer training officially wrapped last week, and I took off to Denver the next day. Running at elevation is always unpredictable for me. I focus on hydrating the week before and slow down my pace when I arrive. I still haven’t found the exact key to success, but I’ve noticed that running early in the trip can be good acclimation.

My schedule said 18 miles for the weekend, but I ended up splitting it across a couple days. I ran 3 miles on Saturday morning and then another 14.5 miles on Monday. For the longer run, I wish I had run by time and not distance. I’d packed my trail shoes, which have less support, but ended up running on paved concrete. I also forgot to pack energy (my preferred fuels are Honey Stinger chews and Jelly Belly Sport Beans). Third strike? My route took me mostly uphill on the second half.

Despite all these errors, I’m happy with my run because I got out there and enjoyed the views. Also, my Starbucks drink tasted even better post-run. It all led up to my first run with fall training last night back home in Dallas. The humidity was a shock, but my legs felt stronger.

Last Speed Test

Cool breeze on my face, fast speed in my legs. That's the mantra I repeated in my head as we completed our last speed workout of the summer last night. It's hard to believe we've already made it to the last week.

We ran 2×2 mile with walking rests and water breaks in between. The temperatures have stayed mild (for August) but the humidity is still high. I wanted to see faster pace numbers, and I can't wait to really test myself in a race. What I'm satisfied with from last night was my pace consistency.

Montréal is coming up quickly, so it's time to make serious training decisions. As I up my long run mileage, do I also want to up my running frequency throughout the week? How much do I want to expand my cross-training beyond yoga? The best part is knowing I have a lifetime worth of training cycles to experiment and try new methods.

Not Quite 16

Training cycles tend to reach a point for me where the motivation is low but the miles are many. Running away from home can be either fun or overwhelming, particularly if it's hard to find a good route.

While traveling this past weekend, I faced the almost-daunting 16 miles on my training schedule. The time I spent stressing over a route and worrying about the cold temperatures was almost to equal to how long I would've spent running. Eventually I pushed myself out the door for a measly (and cold) three miles–not quite 16.

The clock and weather were against me, so my goal shifted from meeting the distance to just getting one foot in front of the other. I'm glad I made it out for a run, but I'm also a little embarrassed I chickened out so easily. Sweating it away in Beyoncé "Lemonade" yoga this evening helped cleanse some of the guilt. At the end of the day, it's about deciding to move forward.

Cold Front

Weather that makes you want to wear a jacket the first week of August is a rare gift. Of course, that was quickly put out of mind by the crazy humidity. A regular Texas summer storm is on its way, but we got in tonight's run before any rain.

Running intervals at the lake made the time pass quicker than at the track because of the constantly changing scenery. We ran 3×1.5 split up with a hairpin turnaround at each interval. I kept pace by breaking it up even more in my mind: through the trees, over a short bridge, past the parking lot, around the bend, over the wooden bridge, another bend, turnaround, all over again backward.

I left my watch running the whole time, even during the few minute walking breaks after each interval. This made it hard to know my true pace so I went by feel instead. I've just discovered Nike's speed feature in the running app, which works exactly for intervals. Next time I'll use it, but it's also good that I'm getting better at learning my pace by feel.