As much running as I do by myself, I would much prefer to run with other people. I have to admit that I didn’t become a real “runner” until I started running with other people. There’s nothing like that shared experience of group running. The inspiration and encouragement one receives from others pushes us beyond the limits we set for ourselves.
As an example I use to run tempo workouts by myself around the Rose Bowl. It was long, hard, and something I never looked forward to. Then I started running the same workout with the Gritty group. There were some that were faster than me and others that were at my pace. We ran in a pack and were encouraged to keep up a challenging pace in order to stay in that group. Mind you it was a pace faster than my usual tempo speed, but it felt more tolerable because there was that group element involved.
My first official running club was the Bayfront Road Runners in Hilo and more recently the Gritty City Track Club in Pasadena. Not only are they an inspiration athletically, each person serves as an example on how to live a healthy and balanced life.
From the Bayfront runners I learned:
– Running is a choice we make that becomes part of our lifestyle
– Running is better when we can share that experience with others
– Beer after a run is always a good idea
From the Grits I learned:
– To be encouraged by those who are faster and aim to be at their level
– To be encouraging and a resource for those who are new to the sport
From both I learned the value of training and preparation. They are real examples of a running family. I’m lucky to have found groups that made running fun and have helped in my evolution in the sport.
When I left Hilo I wondered if I could find another running group that was as supportive and friendly as the Bayfront runners. One of the things that made leaving Hilo difficult were the friendships I had developed with a few of the runners. I’m glad that we all continue to keep in touch.
When I arrived in L.A. I was fortunate to be introduced to the Gritty crew. I knew a couple of the runners from my days at USC and was pleasantly surprised they had turned into hard core endurance athletes. I joined them for runs at Griffith Park, then one thing led to another and next thing you know I’m getting my coaching certificate from USATF to be their running coach.
Now that I’m in Indianapolis I’m wondering if there’s a group of runners similar to the Bayfront and Gritty crews. Will I be able to find people that share my passion for the sport AND get my sense of humor?
Gritty City and the Runner’s Circle store crew decided to throw me a going away party. (A Runner’s Circle is another place where I got to meet some really nice folks) It was all kinds of awesome with a custom made pinata shaped like a leg. There was sangria, some running, and Mexican food. Yes, I requested it to be Mexican themed because I love Mexican food! The pinata leg was so realistic it even had on my favorite trail shoe, the New Balance MT110. Artist extrodinaire Sarah Davis was responsible for the creation of the pinata. It was even stuffed with running essentials; booze, candy, and energy gels.
Like the Hilo crew, I miss the Grits. I’ll be seeing some of them in the fall when they run the Chicago Marathon. Maybe we can run a beer mile when they visit.