Monday, December 2, 2013

How to be an Awesome Training Group: A case study of FootZone's latest 1/2 Marathon Training Session

Written By Cristina Stavro

Not too long ago was the Happy Girls Dirty Half in Sisters.  For the 8 weeks leading up to race day, I had the privilege of coaching these mighty fine runners, some of which were chasing down their very first half marathon.  This bunch was a special one that taught me about what it really means to be in a training group.  So to say "thank you" to the group, I'd like to share with you a non-comprehensive list of what it took these runners to truly be an awesome training group and come out at the end of this session with 13.1 miles in the book.

1. Sign Up: Everyone's motivation looks different when it comes to joining a group--lose a bet, take a dare, chase a dream, get fit, stave off boredom--but one way or another, something led them to sign up.  It was half the battle, and for some, the scariest part, but no matter where they were coming from, everyone in the group had to start here.

2. Show Up:  Enter the other half of the battle.  The list of better things to do on a Saturday morning than come run with me at 8AM isn't short (i.e. sleep, cartoons, sleep, give your cat a bath, brunch, and sleep, just to name a few). But the group showed up anyway... even on days when temperatures dropped and clouds hung heavy and low in the sky, they showed up.

3. Be Fearless (and a little nervous) but mostly fearless:  On week 4, I sent an email out saying our next run would be 9 miles at Meadow Picnic area.  And that Saturday the weather was in the 30s for one of the first times with a constant rain/drizzle.  And an amazing thing happened... the group showed up! Even more amazing? They showed up AND ran.  Did I bribe them with the promise of t-shirts afterward and a pancake breakfast the next week? Sure, but look at this group... they constantly surprised me with the buzz and bounce they'd bring to every long run no matter the
mileage or weather.  .   

4. A group that runs together, runs together: Funny how running with people leads to more running with people.  Saturday morning group runs just weren't enough.  Every week there were emails and posts about doing midweek training runs together--hill workouts, tempo runs, post-run coffee runs. I've never worked with a group that ran so much together outside of the program. Awesome.

5. A group that runs together, celebrates together: You know how sometimes, when you finish one of those particularly rough runs and you're just so pumped you made it through and all you want to do is high-five someone but there is no one around so you high-five your Garmin instead, but it's not the same since your watch is digital and doesn't have hands? Well, being in our training group meant always having someone to high-five... and we high-fived, A LOT, because every run was another victory.  7 mile run? High-five. 10 mile run? High five.  Tried a new gel/gu/bar during the run and had no stomach issues? Mega high-five. Quite a few of the runners were facing a new personal record for longest run every week and their energy was contagious, giving us all a little something extra to celebrate.  

6. Finish strong:  All of the above factors came together at the race and there is nothing quite like seeing everyone's hard work pay off.  On race day, the weather was a tad sour but I saw nothing but smiles from the runners crossing the finish line... smiles, fist pumps, hugs, and (of course) high-fives all around. 

A big thanks to everyone who participated... you made the experience unforgettable, not just for your fellow runners but for me as well.  Looking forward to round 2!

1 comment:

Angela said...

I loved this post and am now even MORE excited to start training with you. Thanks Cristina for starting the inspiration early.