Embracing the Running Community

I’ve always wanted to join a few more running groups because run clubs have been a way for me to keep myself interacted with other runners and other people, critical for someone like myself who has been isolated through grad school and work, to a lesser extent. For the past year or so, I’ve made some great friends through City Sports, but the only downside is their runs are mainly on Thursdays. Recently Be Well Philly released a VERY comprehensive list of all the running clubs that they are aware of in the Philly metro area, including the Philly suburbs and even Southern New Jersey. Surely there are others like the Meetin groups (two groups that come to mind are LezRun, a lesbian runners’ group and RLPG, or Run Like a Philly Girl) that have not been advertised here as well, but the published list clearly shows that running is truly alive and well.

http://www.phillymag.com/be-well-philly/2014/06/19/run-fun-__-running-clubs-philadelphia-area/

The best part? With few exceptions most are free. TPRT is one I’d like to join but the fees are a bit steep on the budget, though they provide a structure that could benefit me. The other downside though is that because I am in a career that requires travel, I may not benefit from it as much as I’d like because I may miss several workout sessions.

However when it comes to groups my main issue is that I worry about speed/pace particularly in the heat. One big positive from prior years is that I just didn’t bother training outdoors period, but now I am. I still struggle at 10 mins, much slower than I am at optimal 50 deg temps, but the fact that my speed does keep improving in hot weather, however slowly, is a very encouraging sign. I’m walking a lot less and even yesterday’s Run Club, I actually hung with the group (who average about 8 mins or faster) for the first few miles. Usually that never happens. Still I have the self-consciousness that I had when I was invited to my very first run club four years ago.

“Am I too slow?” still dances in my mind. But in all these months, I’ve never had this issue with the City Sports crew. I know my route, and that’s that. Slow progress is still progress, and I have to be honest, I have to move with goals that are sustainable.

One thing that has contributed to this improvement is the sheer amount of weighttraining I’ve taken up, so I know this is something I need to keep at it. More recently though I have started training with SWCC, or Southwest Center City Running Club, based in Graduate Hospital. The members there are also very nice and I hope to keep running with them every Wednesday that I can!

Other ways I plan on keeping engaged is volunteer events. I volunteered at the in24 race series the weekend of 21 July. I still remember the incredible time I had running that relay and bonding with people up to the relay.

The five of us at it on a full body massage. 9 June 2012.

The five of us at it on a full body massage. 9 June 2012.

Race kit. 13 July 2012.

Race kit. 13 July 2012.

Campsite at Fairmount Park. 14 July 2012.

Campsite at Fairmount Park. 14 July 2012.

This year, I manned the water and refreshment station near the beginning and end of the course. I had tweeted our setup prior to the race start for the runners.

The start line at this year’s in24 race.

More recently I started training with SWCC, and City Sports have just expanded their training sessions on Sundays now. So that gives me three full days of training with people provided my work schedule allows. Pace-wise I’m okay. Personal, I think I click with most people in the groups, although I couldn’t help but notice that the Graduate Hospital folks were 1) mostly older than me 2) mainly settled down, I was the only one NOT in a committed relationship and 3) the vast majority of people in the group were homeowners. As in I could have felt like the odd person out, but I wasn’t. People in this group were very inclusive and I enjoyed everyone’s company. Interesting in that I finally got a sense of mingling with different people…and maybe seeing my own future if I were to really put roots down in Philly.

plank

At City Sports we’ve bonded over plank challenges (above) and many sponsored events but I’m really looking forward to their new Philly Marathon training program, sponsored and free of charge, meaning that I don’t lose anything on days I have to travel for work.

I’ve added several more friends on Twitter and now being able to keep up with fitness activities in a group has helped me with structure and accountability. But the friendships I continue to build are priceless, another reason why I love running the way I do.

Additional information:
SWCC meets every Wednesday at 6:30pm and Saturday at 8am. Their Facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/SWCCRunClub
City Sports Walnut Street meets every Thursday at 6pm and training runs for the Philadelphia Marathon every Sunday at 8am until race day (17 Nov).
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CitySportsWalnutStreet

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