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.
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 up, what’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.
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.
- 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?