Monday, June 8, 2009

Informal Club Runs are Motivating

My running club holds informal group runs at the Seabrook Trails on Sundays so I showed up for it yesterday. I hadn't run with this particular group before, and I didn't really this time either.

Not that I didn't start with them. They were just too fast for me. Oy vey! There was a time when I would have pressed on with them, but the years and the miles have conveyed a bit of wisdom to the rational part of my mind. It happens.

But I did get to talk to my old friend Lou, who I hadn't seen for many years. He's always been faster than me, but one year I was able to hang with him for about the first eight miles of the Dallas White Rock Marathon. Awesome course.

Finding Your Own Pace

When the running club is large enough, these informal runs take on a real social flavor and there's several runners in each slice of the pace pie. Track interval workouts are the same way. This is where the motivational aspect comes in. In my view, the social aspect is as important as the psychological training aspect.

We all want to get faster, but it's important to temper the desire with a smidgen of reality and train scientifically, not haphazardly. And above all, keep it fun.

Case in point: a few years ago, the club was doing race management for a local 5K. Jay and I set up the course in the dark pre-dawn. Since we were going by clumsy handwritten course instructions, we set the turn-around cone about 50 meters too far out. Oops.

Curb Your Enthusiasm!

Should have been no biggie, right? Well, to most folks it wasn't. But the first guy through the finish chute was one of Houston's elite runners. You know, not fast enough to make a paycheck, but fast enough to score free "sponser" Powerbars every now and then.

He had a good enough sense of pace to know that the course was long, and he let us have it with both barrels. By golly, he was 3 seconds off his predicted finish time! Reason enough for a major temper tantrum. Very sad, even for this regional demi-God.

Sometimes being a middle-of-the-packer is its own reward. I'm blessed that talent and genetics haven't turned me into a Lord Farquaad.

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