Runners World Articles: Archives - January 2001
Come Together These runners tapped the power of
the group. So can you.
I've advised and encouraged thousands of runners over the years.
But I've received far more motivation than I've given. In the stories
that runners tell, I find courage and humor, humility and hope.
Some of the greatest stories come from running groups, bands of
lik-minded people who push and prod one another to be their best.
Running groups are successful because they offer motivational support,
an opportunity to train with others toward a common goal, and a
wealth of collective wisdom passed down from veterans to newcomers,
who may be bursting with enthusiasm but lacking in know-how.
There are faces behind these group success stories, real runners
like you. Here are just a few of them:
Robin Learns to Walk
Robin traveled to Orlando 2 years ago to cheer for a friend in the
Disney World Marathon. After seeing hundreds of finishers there
who were as heavy as he, Robin vowed to end his sedentary ways and
run Disney the following year. But on every training run, he struggled,
broke down, and almost gave up.
He joined a local training group-the slowest he could find-but
couldn't keep up during long runs. Then Robin learned about walk
breaks. When he began taking 1-minute walk breaks during every run,
he easily increased his endurance. With the mileage increase he
also lost 70 pounds! His speed picked up, too, because he wasn't
so tired during the second half of his runs. He ran last year's
Disney Marathon in 5:50. Today Robin leads a running group himself,
competes in triathlons, and usually places in his age group.
Eugenia Goes For It
Eugenia was in an exercise rut, but afraid that running would be
too much for her 70-year-old frame. Her personal trainer, Lisa,
thought otherwise. Lisa Decided that what Eugenia really needed
was a goal, and encouraged her to train for a marathon.
Lisa was also the leader of a marathon training group in Greenville,
S.C., and knew several people who had finished a marathon who were
less fit than Eugenia. It took some coaxing, but Lisa convinced
Eugenia to join the group and go for it. During her training, Eugenia's
husband and son died. But she stayed on the marathon track, supported
by her group. "Setting a goal makes it easy to take the time
for ourselves that we all need every day," she says. Eugenia
finished the Marine Corps Marathon last fall in 6:48.
Eric Gets His Groove Back
Lindsay joined my training program in the early Œ90s and went from
0 to 26 miles in 26 weeks. Then she tried to pull her son, Eric,
a former 4:35 high school miler, off the couch to join the marathon
group. Eric told her that he could train and qualify for Boston
(he needed a 3:10) on his own. He soon tested his theory, training
by himself for the Chicago Marathon. He ran the first half in 1:30,
right on the money. Then he ran out of gas. Struggling in with a
3:55, he felt depressed by defeat.
After two other attempts in 3:35 and 3:28, Eric swallowed his pride
and joined the program. At first the walk breaks (every 8 minutes)
bothered him so much that he stopped coming.
Eventually, though, he rejoined our program. His training group
encouraged him to slow down on long runs, so that he'd have snap
left in his legs for the faster runs necessary to prepare for his
3:10 marathon goal. The group taught him when to go hard and-more
important-when to hold back. Eric returned to Chicago and ran almost
an hour faster 2:59:06.
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