Well, I tried out running with The Group last night. And then (and yes, this was crazy) I went running with my friend A. After the The Group, I was feeling kind of weird and self-conscious so it was nice to run with an old friend and just chat.
The Group meets at a local gym along the waterfront and then jogs to a park and breaks into three sub groups: A, B, and C. Yup you guessed it—all the cute young guys are in A and I’m in C with the older men and most of the women. Group C is still pretty fast, though, yikes! The workout started out with stretches and calisthenics, and then we went into the fartlek phase. People were nice, but not particularly friendly—they sort of stuck with their own bunch, which is fine I guess, but not super welcoming. Maybe everyone was tired from work and just wasn’t up for pandering to the new girl. Honestly, I was tired myself and didn’t really feel like making all the necessary introductory small talk: ( Where are you from?; USA; Oh I love New York; Yeah, it's great; But it's pretty nice here, eh?; Yup it is. And repeat ad nausem.)
The coach (shy, very serious, baby-faced) corrected my form a few times, reminding me (as every physical therapist or yoga person I’ve ever encountered has) that I’m too tense and need to relax my shoulders. What can I say? I’m uptight, always have been and always will be! But, thanks to running, I’ve calmed down significantly over the last year and was able to think, “That’s a helpful suggestion, I’ll work on relaxing my shoulders” instead of “Do not touch me, you hippie!”.
I’m not fully convinced that The Group is for me, but I recognize that it might be helpful if I want to a) get faster and b) run the Barcelona marathon this spring. Let’s look at the pros and cons:
1. The Group will force me to do speed work at least once a week.
2. Having a coach might help me break bad habits and teach me a bit about form.
3. I might need other people to get through the long pre-marathon runs and the winter.
4. Having to talk to new people is challenging, but will eventually prove to be positive.
1. The cost: 25 € (about $35) a month
2. The other people. Yeah, I know, that’s supposed to be a pro, but I like being in my own world when I run and I'm hyper aware of other people: how they're feeling, breathing, running.
3. The fact that on Group nights I can’t just run from my house and back. I have to run down to the meeting point, meet, do the workout, and then run (or limp) back to my house. All this means that it takes about 2 hours to get in 5 miles midweek…
4. The Group requires that you wear their official t-shirt to practice and at races. (Strange. Corporate. Scary. Is The Group a sect?)
Do you love your group? Or are you a curmudgeon like me?