Saturday, April 24, 2010
It is impossible not to notice that a good portion of my running improvement can be credited to training with folks that have some serious talent and speed (way beyond anything I can imagine having), although I always find myself saying "sorry for the slower pace". At first it was running with Dave James (before he abandoned us all to pursue a medical degree in St. Kitts :) ). The guy never broke a sweat, nor did he seem winded at all when running with me (and many times it was his 2nd or 3rd run of the day). Yet, for me, running with him always seemed to bring out my best effort. Group running certainly has potential benefits (see the New York Times article "The Benefits of Group Running"), and the biggest one for me was always accountability/motivation. When running alone, it seems so much easier to smash the alarm at 4:30 AM and turn over for another few hours of sleep than it is when other dedicated souls are waiting for you at the trail head. And safety...let's not forget about the safety factor.
Recently, I've paid particular attention to my training pace, noticing that it has improved steadily over time. The infusion of more hill repeat and speed training sessions has been a big contributor, but so too has running with a couple of guys that are just plain fast - Herb and Aaron. Their easy pace is a killer workout for me, and they never complain about the pace (as was always the case with Dave). Today I think I finally figured out how to kind of "out-do" them in training (well, keep up with them - and even still it hardly seemed as if they were breaking a sweat)....run with them just 4 days after they put in stellar performances at the Boston Marathon. Both set personal records, with Herb finishing in 3:10:45, and Aaron in an amazing 2:55:41! I know that I will never come close to hitting those numbers, but man is it something special to get to run with people this talented. Even more important, these guys, as well as the rest of the good people that have been in our regular running group - Shannon, Wayne, Kristen, Dot, Eric, David, the Peters (L. and H.), and everyone else I didn't mention - are great friends, and they all help to make weekend training something to look forward to.
Here's to many, many more fun, adventurous training runs with the current group (and to anyone else that wants to join us)!