Tuesday Topics: Rogue Running and group marathon training

My original plan for NYC Marathon training wasn’t group training, nor was it JackRabbit’s Rogue Running.  I realized early on that a DIY approach probably wasn’t going to work for me, and soon after that my Mile High Run Club idea wouldn’t either.

Rogue Runners

Linking up with Kim and Zenaida this Tuesday Topics to talk about group training for the marathon in general, and Rogue Running in particular.

TL; DR: I’m so glad I did group training and Rogue was a good fit with excellent coaches and fun fellow runners, but it’s not necessarily designed for Turtles.

I was mentally writing this on Saturday, my first Saturday “long” run with Rogue after the marathon and my penultimate workout with them. What was I listening to? Running Rogue’s Ode to Shalane from a few weeks ago when she announced her retirement. Two things that stuck with me?

  • Her comments on group training, and how it evolved from when she first graduated college & Meb & Deena at Mammoth were one of the only games out there. Subsequently how she asked the coach at Bowerman Track Club to add more women to the group to push and help her and how that evolved into the so-called Bowerman Babes.
  • Chris McClung‘s comment that there’s a little Shalane in all of us. It’s so so true. We might not medal, but we can all improve.

I was all over the place when I thought about how I was going to train for the marathon.  Runfession: I still haven’t read the Hanson’s book I bought, or re-read the Hal Higdon one I read early in my running journey.  One of the things I love about our office running group is it was helpful for bouncing ideas off one another, including how are we going to do this? I’m so glad we found Rogue and that it had a five day trial.

I’ll be honest – I nearly quit Rogue after the first Saturday workout. Well not really after – during, when I fell behind during the “easy” warmup.  I can’t keep upwhat’s the point? I still remember that thought and almost exactly where I was in Central Park — lower loop, coming around the curve at the south end of The Mall. I’m pretty sure that was my social anxiety talking, and I’m so glad I ignored it.

happy, sweaty runners after a buggy July workout

Because Rogue does a near twenty week marathon training cycle that includes base building, I began with them in mid-June. I am thrilled to say that I never really missed a session.  Some thoughts on why Rogue/group training worked for me:

  • almost every Friday night I was dreading the 6/5:30 wakeup for the long run. Every single Saturday I was so glad to have the run done. The accountability is huge. I’d have to answer to someone about why I didn’t come – and I was too tired/it was too hot didn’t seem legit. I moved a couple around due to travel, but I got all the long runs in. I missed one Wednesday when I took the workout indoors due to rain — slipping on a wet leaf wasn’t in my plan three weeks out. But that’s not really missing it.

guest runners and popsicles

  • We had fun. I obviously got to know some better than others if we ran at similar paces during a given workout, but everyone was fun. We cheered one another on at out and backs and in workouts. The coaches were AMAZING.  I wouldn’t change one thing about the cohort of people. We were split between first time marathoners, those who had run one or two, and two vets with nearly 20. It made for a great mix.
  • We had great guest speakers/runners/product demos. And popsicles. I got exposed to so many different facets of the running industry that helped my training – and they were ones I wouldn’t necessarily have thought to seek out.
  • I have a library of workouts. I actually went back to one of them today when I needed something on the treadmill-300m repeats. While I would have had said library from a training plan, I’m the type of person who learns from someone explaining it vs. reading it. We got weekly emails with the workouts as well as a spreadsheet at the start, but once the coaches explained it, I got it.

Downsides? Really only what I said above about it not being designed for Turtles. And it really wasn’t a downside for me.

  • This is true of every group training though – they have to be programmed to the most common group. So while I was usually lagging a mile or three behind on the Saturday long runs, there was one runner who was way ahead. I don’t think this is a bad thing — but it might not work for everyone.  As I tend to be a solo runner anyway, I was happy to run some with company and then be alone, or vice versa. Sometimes I enjoyed the challenge of keeping up with another runner, other days I just wanted my podcast. That first workout where I lost them on the warmup? That never really changed, although without fault they’d wait for me and if I asked them to hang back, I think one of the coaches probably would have. I knew our routes well and once they realized I really was fine solo, it worked well on both sides.

Do I know for sure that I ran faster because I did group training? Nope. I just have a good feeling that while I couldn’t do the 5-6 days Rogue prescribed, I think it made me a more consistent runner than I would have been on my own. I look forward to using some of these workouts in my half marathon training, because a Half PR is definitely a 2020 goal.  I’m not sure whether I’m going to sign up for Rogue again – but that’s a factor of some travel plans that make it unlikely I’ll get my money’s worth.

  • Have/do you do group training?
  • Do you think it improved your running?

17 comments to this article

  1. Liz Dexter

    on November 19, 2019 at 03:24 - Reply

    I love that you found the Rogues and that that first experience didn’t put you off. It is hard as an outlier to gain from things aimed at the majority, although as you say we must remember that there are outliers at the sharp end, too. And coaches can find ways to include everyone, e.g. out and backs.

    I like running with accountability and, as I don’t usually know a lot of people at my pace who are marathon training, get round that by having people spot in for bits of the run in a sort of tag team. However, I have really enjoyed doing long loops or out and backs with just one other person training for long distance, and I’ll be offering that to my friend Tara in her London training.

  2. Darlene

    on November 19, 2019 at 07:02 - Reply

    I think running groups are great. It keeps you on track and you meet other runners.

    My job and travel makes it impossible.

    But before this job I participated in Turkey group in the fall and Freihofer’s in the spring. It definitely helped me PR for the 10k the year I went to all the sessions.

  3. Kim G

    on November 19, 2019 at 09:45 - Reply

    I do like running with a group but I also appreciate my solo runs as well. Sometimes with a group I feel bad if I’m slower and holding people back so it gives me a little bit of anxiety

    • cari

      on November 19, 2019 at 10:48 - Reply

      YUP! I felt bad when they’d wait for me at the end of a workout – even if it was raining. Made me super self conscious even though I’m pretty sure no one minded. And if someone had to leave, they just did.

  4. Marcia

    on November 19, 2019 at 15:14 - Reply

    I loved your analysis of your group training experience and I’m glad it was overwhelmingly positive. While I love hanging out with runners socially and even running with others during races, it’s been years since I ran with a running group, and when I did, it was a bunch of much faster guys I’d never keep up with in a billion years now. I really value the solitude of a solo long run.

  5. Wendy

    on November 19, 2019 at 19:31 - Reply

    I’m glad to hear that you found your group and enjoyed it! I really am at heart a solo runner and believe it or not, did almost all of my marathon training (x4) solo!

  6. Kim at Running on the Fly

    on November 19, 2019 at 19:50 - Reply

    So, you are walking away (not literally LOL) from this with all good karma and a very positive experience. That’s a total WIN!! Not everyone can find that perfect mix of group & solo, and it looks like you nailed it.

  7. Deborah Brooks

    on November 20, 2019 at 08:11 - Reply

    Back before I started my MRTT group, I signed up for a group training program for a half. It was my 2nd one and I really enjoyed the structure of it and the ability to train w people at my level. One of the ladies I met there 7 years ago is now one of my best friends

    • cari

      on November 21, 2019 at 11:31 - Reply

      Isn’t it amazing how a common interest can just connect you to the best people? Although this wasn’t people at my level, I totally agree re: structure. Helped make the marathon so much more manageable

  8. Chocolaterunsjudy

    on November 20, 2019 at 12:01 - Reply

    I used to run with a group called USAFit. I would be astounded if there wasn’t a group in NYC. I enjoyed my time with them — summer/fall only, for about 4 years. The coaches changed towards the end, and that kind of sounded the death knell for me (the group also got a lot smaller).

    I have yet to find another group where I’ve really met people, and or got a running buddy out of it. I actually really do like running with other people, but since I don’t have to run after work, I usually don’t (hello, runs with the sun still out during winter).

    Would it make sense to still sign up even if you just miss a few weeks? It really sounds like you found your tribe & that’s not something to take likely!

    • cari

      on November 21, 2019 at 11:21 - Reply

      Nope, none near me. Looks like yours or Providence, RI are it https://usafit.com/chapter-locations/
      At $85/month, it was worth it when I could make both workouts. When I know I’m missing a few, and have races on a couple Saturdays, it’s not as good a deal. I think I’d probably go back in mid-late spring. Definitely keeping in touch with them in the mean time and running with the people when I can as they were indeed my tribe

      • Chocolaterunsjudy

        on November 22, 2019 at 09:26 - Reply

        I am surprised they’re not in NYC. They actually started out in a big city. Weird.

  9. Debbie @ Deb Runs

    on November 23, 2019 at 22:55 - Reply

    I definitely think that running with women up to twenty years younger than me made me faster when I first join my MRTT group and met my running friends about five years ago. Interestingly, some of them weren’t as fast as me back then because they were just starting out running, but their consistency and dedication has made them faster. Also, it’s more fun to do track workouts when your friends are on the track, even if you’re not running together.

    Oh, and I love that going after a half PR is your 2020 goal! Good luck!

  10. Zenaida Arroyo

    on November 24, 2019 at 07:24 - Reply

    I enjoy my solo runs but do like running with a group too. I just haven’t found one yet because I am slower. 🙂 I used to be a pacer for a few groups a couple of years ago and enjoyed the accountability. I definitely had to show up!

    Thank you for linking up with us!

    • cari

      on November 25, 2019 at 11:22 - Reply

      Same here re: speed, or lack thereof. It’s definitely a challenge. Pacing must have been fun – have you ever written that up? would love to read it.

      • Zenaida Arroyo

        on November 26, 2019 at 06:26 - Reply

        I am not sure. I would have to go back to my posts.

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