Sunday, January 5, 2014

Running Club

For the new year, I decided that I wanted to dedicate myself to being more social with my running. To that end, I joined the local running club, Sugarloaf Mountain Athletic Club (SMAC). The club was having it's annual meeting this weekend, and I decided to attend for a run and then the following brunch and meeting. This would be a good chance to meet some runners, potentially people I could train with and work with to improve my running.

A good friend's husband (who is also a friend), Dave, is a member of the club at joined me for the experience. I showed up early for the pre-brunch 3 to 5 mile run. I was a bit nervous. As I've mentioned, I run a 10:00 mile, and I thought that everyone would be faster than me. I've also been running kind of slow because of my calf, which made me even more nervous. However, I had run a good three miler yesterday and was feeling good.

I joined up with a group of newbies to the club and Dave, and we set off for our run. It became clear pretty soon that the pace they were going at was way speedier than I was used to -- think more like 9:00 miles instead of 10:00. With my legs tired from the running streak, this became a problem fast. On the first tiny hill my calves began to act up, and I had to drop back. Dave, a very kind person, joined me at my slow pace, as we headed back towards the Amherst Brewing Company where the meeting was to take place. We probably ran around 3.5 to 4 miles, less than I had hoped, but the fast start ruined me. I now know the dangers of going out fast.

Thinking back on the run, I felt bad. I had held people up and was the weakest runner because of my slow speed. The bottom line: To run with others I need to get a little faster. So, readers of the blog, I'm pledging in 2014 to get some running friends and become a faster runner. I think I can do this. I run around three times a week, but do most of my runs at a moderate pace. I need to shake things up and include hill training and speed training. I need to work on strengthening my calves so that they aren't as much of a problem. I'd like to increase my pace to 9:00 miles. I think this would open up a lot more options for me.

After the run (and my mental pledging to do better in the future), we headed in for the SMAC annual meeting and brunch. I got to chat briefly with some great people at our table and also get to hear highlights from the club's last year.

SMAC runs a really great race series with around 14 races. Anyone who competes in eight or more of these races is considered a series finisher. The series grants points for each mile races and people compete to see who can get the most. Points are also awarded based on finishing time. In this way the series rewards both consistancy (probably where I can fit in) and speed.

From the sound of things, taking part in the race series, which starts in April, is the best way to get involved with the club and really start to meet people. For SMAC involvement, my 2014 plan now looks like this:
January: Figure out a training plan that will balance longer runs and runs that focus on getting faster.
February -- March: Begin training plan. Run consistantly and have each workout have a very specific focus. (No more 3 or 4 mile runs at just a consistant 10:00 mile pace -- this isn't helping me improve.)
April: Register for the SMAC race series and start meeting people. Start including races in training plan. Try to find someone with whom to train over the summer.
September: Run at PR at the Hogsback Half Marathon!

This is going to be the year of running, and I am going to work hard. That's okay -- I like training hard. Now I just have to put together a plan and go out and do it!

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