CLA group runs are by RSVP and there is something about saying that you’d be there that helps hold runners accountable to get in their miles. It might be rainy, windy, and/or cold or for various other reasons you might not feel like running, but often you will show up simply because you said you would be there! RSVP's are important to help CLA determine carpools and staff so by RSVP-ing you help make sure the run is set up for you and also your other running friends.
CLA group runs are set up so the runners are grouped together by pace with the fastest runners starting last. This does not mean you have to stay with the group if you don’t want. The goal of the stagger is to have most everyone arriving at the finish at close to the same time. This way, no matter if you run 5 miles or 15 miles, you can chat about your run, the weather or the weekend ahead. We have found over the years it just helps build the team camaraderie.
Another reason we do it this way is simply the benefit that comes from knowing someone is either ahead of you or behind you. Even if you don’t have someone to run with because you are either slower or faster or your workout is slightly different, you still have the benefit of knowing that people are ahead of you that you’ll catch and people are behind you that will catch you. This pull and push can be a great tool to help you get through the run and make your mileage goal.
The Power of the Pack
Besides the accountability of having RSVP’d, using the group to keep you moving is a great way to make the most of your workout. Often one person in a group might be having a great day and another might be feeling a bit off, the power of someone to run with even for a little while can help that not so great feeling run get done. Even if you run with someone for a short bit, this can really make the miles fly quickly. Sometimes we can use the pack to help you run faster than you normally would on your own, or to hit a particular workout, or in some cases we can use the pack to slow us down if we always tend to work too hard.
The shared sense of community that develops during runs is a wonderful aspect of having running partners. The whole adage of like attracts like is really true with runners. They’ll share stories of what worked for them, what training issues they may be struggling with and what goals they are working towards. All the conversation is not just about running either. Over the miles, conversations can range from family to travel and almost anything in between. Do have a problem that needs discussing? Well, many miles later you may have some solutions to try or at least commiseration!
And another benefit of others around that is often overlooked is simply the safety factor. Sometimes we are on courses that are more remote or trails and having other around simply adds another layer of safety for all.
Ever hear those negative voices in your head? The voices that tell you that you are not fast enough or can’t go that far or that you'll hold everyone up? Voices in your head can pop up quite frequently and often stop people from attending a group run at all.
Remember that everyone who is at a group run was new at some point. Everyone is at a different place in their training and all are there to work toward a goal of their own. Someone may just be coming back from injury (or life), recovering from a recent race or have very fresh legs and are ready to go! Group Runs are not about being competitive or judgemental, they are not all about pushing the pace either but instead are meant to take the solitary sport of running and make it social and fun. Don’t we all get enough miles alone? Sometimes it works to stay in the group and other times it won’t and either way, that is okay. Be mindful of the purpose of your workout and stick to your pace if you need to.
Not sure what the purpose of your workout is? Ask!
If you spend a lot of time thinking you are too slow or bashing yourself for not being able to keep up, reframe this negativity and remind yourself that everyone has a different day when showing up for a group run. Just because you start with someone, that doesn’t mean you keep up with them if it’s not working for you on that day. And don’t forget, CLA group runs really are for all abilities and speeds!
The opposite also applies. If you think you always have to keep up or treating every group run as a hard charging workout don’t be afraid to keep it to a social pace and enjoy that camaraderie!
Ready to Run
As a courtesy to everyone, make sure you know what the course is and what your plan is. Are you carrying your own water or planning on utilizing the group water stops? Make sure you arrive at least 10 minutes before your start time so you can figure out your water and fueling plan, review directions and any course changes, and make your final wardrobe choice.
Don’t forget to turn on your running watch and learn how to use it before you arrive at the run so you are ready to go!
Runs can be very chatty or quieter with companionable silence especially if you are attempting to hit a harder pace. Enjoy whatever the day brings. If you must bring headphones, be mindful of only using them if you are on your own and keep the volume low enough so you can hear your surroundings.
New for CLA
We are asking that you start to carry your cell phone on the runs. Please make sure you’ve exchanged cell phone numbers with the group run leader in case of any issues. Another option is enabling a tracking app such as “Find my Friends” on your phone and connecting with the group leader. If you end up finishing and haven’t checked in, definitely send a message saying you are done!
Non CLA Group Runs
These tips apply to not just CLA Group Runs but any other group run you may attend. When traveling to other cities, joining a local group run is a great way to see the city and meet other runners. Before jumping into an unknown group, make sure to contact the leader and ask questions about the course and how they handle different paces. Do your homework and know where the course goes and how you’d have an “out” like on-demand car services if needed. Run to your ability and enjoy the chance to run like a local!
Group Runs are for you!
Group runs can really make a training cycle if you use them well.
Many of us have been hesitant about joining a group at one time or another. It may have been we just enjoyed the solitude of running, it may have been negative voices saying we couldn’t keep up or were worried about an injury. Some may not realize what a benefit a group run can be!
Regardless, Group Runs are still a favorite thing and something that has gotten all of us through many cold, wet, and uncomfortable runs. These runs have build many memories and friendships that I can’t imagine life without.