A few weeks ago, as we were sitting on the couch and prepping for dinner in our still-new home in Virginia Beach, we spied something interesting through our glass front door.
Roughly a dozen people clad in neon vests, technical T-shirts and other running gear were gathered outside the seafood restaurant across the street from us. Steve ran over to find out their deal—who they were, where they ran, how fast they ran, whether we could play, too—and reported back that he’d found us a new running group.
Before I lived in D.C. and ran with the Pacers Silver Spring “fun run” group, I had a bit of a phobia about running with others. I lived in constant fear of not being able to keep up with a given group, or of accidentally forcing the group into a faster run than it wanted thanks to my lack of an ability to pace properly. Three years later, I’ve learned that both of these things sometimes happen during group runs, but that neither scenario is the end of the world. More importantly, I’ve learned that these instances are actually pretty rare, and that running with a group can greatly increase my motivation, inspiration and enjoyment of a sport I love so much. Plus, I’ve learned that it’s a great way to meet fun new friends who consider Gu flavors and long-run bathroom strategies good dinner-table conversation topics.
Last night, I met up with the Hampton Roads Runners for the group’s weekly 4.2-miler around my neighborhood. The group runs between 8- and 10- minute miles—which basically describes every possible pace scenario for me. My Garmin tells me that my little sub-group ran about 8:50-minute miles on the big loop along the beach, through a park and back to the aforementioned seafood restaurant, where we gathered post-run for drinks and dinner. My heart tells me that the pace, the distance and the chatty, easygoing vibe of the run is just what I need right now. When I left, I told everyone I’d see them next Tuesday.
Better yet, the group’s Meetup.com page lists dozens of runs at various times and places around the area, from long runs on the beach to hill workouts at Mount Trashmore (literally a repurposed mound of trash—gotta love Virginia Beach for its lack of pretensions!). Score!
Do you run with a group? Why or why not?