Dr. Lisa Gonzales is a 2019 Biofreeze San Francisco Marathon Ambassador, and a 7-time pacer for the Biofreeze San Francisco Marathon and 5-time pacer for the Biofreeze Berkeley Half Marathon. She is a head coach for South Bay RUN365 club and is USATF certified.
As rewarding as it is, running can often be a very insular sport where it’s essentially your body and mind versus the elements. However, there is a whole facet of training with a group that can keep training fun and rewarding over time.
From my experience as a head coach for the South Bay RUN365, there are many perks that come from training with a team that will help keep you running happy and improving as a runner. Have you thought about running with a training team? If not, I may have some good reasons why you should…
Every week (or more frequently, depending on schedules), your team will have planned training runs that will give you an opportunity to meet and run with new people. These runs are filled with different runners with different backgrounds, sharing their experiences with one another while running. It’s the element of inspiration that is drawn from all these individuals that will fuel the motivation you need for consistency as a runner. Additionally, some training clubs will often bring in speakers who will cover a wide range of running topics that will help shorten your learning curve as a runner.
Admittedly, we as runners can lose focus with a training regimen if we were left to our own devices. There’s a fascinating effect that accountability partners can bring which will help keep our eye on the prize; it might be the paradox of not wanting to disappoint others rather than ourselves. In any case, having teammates to remind me where/when to meet and to give me the extra lift when they haven’t seen me around has been a vital key to me being consistent as a runner.
When I first started distance running 21 years ago, I joined a team to train for my first marathon. Having a team with coaches offered a structure to running that I was completely green about. It took away the thinking about how far to run each week, when/how to increase mileage, what speed work even was, and how to taper before a race. Who knew there was so much to consider?! That structure helped me to cross the finish line of my first marathon, and laid the foundation for the 17 other marathons and 50 half marathons I’ve ran.
Running is a fun adventure where we can use our training runs to explore our cities or nature trails. However, creating routes can be a daunting task, especially when we might not feel as comfortable running alone.
When I first started training with my current team, we headed out to Rancho San Antonio Park and I almost got lost along the way. If I had been running alone, I certainly would’ve have stopped there and then to avoid venturing too far into the unknown. If I had done that, I would have missed out on the beautiful switchbacks and shaded climbs that were available on that trail. It was from that original experience that has driven me to continue to check the boxes of my destinations mega list throughout the years because I’ve had a team to explore these new routes with and to keep me safe.
I’ve been running with the RUN365 team for the past seven years and treasure the time getting to know the other runners, both old and new. I’m grateful for the rich conversations about life and running, and over time, our group of runners have become an extended family. Aside from the miles shared together, all the post-run social time and road trips to races can be what you need to really take running to heart.