Except for the BAA 10K last Sunday I have not run at all this week. Every time I drive somewhere and see runners, the urge to jump out of the car and run with them is overwhelming. I feel like my entire routine is out of whack and off-balance.
I’ve been using my new Thera-Roll foam roller every night and sometimes in the morning. Now my other hamstring is a little sore from the rolling! The muscles are not used to getting this type of pressure so it is uncomfortable while rolling and is then uncomfortable afterwards. I think it is working, but this is going to be a long-term recovery.
I went to the running club on Tuesday night but did not run. It was the final night for our Walk to Run program and I wanted to be there as everyone finished their first 3 mile run. It was fun to see them finish. Just about everyone I spoke with intends to keep running with the club. Afterwards Marathon Sports had some food and gift bags for all of the Walk to Run participants.
While I was there I talked to some of our veteran runners about my injury. Everyone agreed that it can take a long time to recover and you can’t rush it. I was also cautioned not to hit it hard when I come back as I can risk a re-injury. Rest, ice, ibuprofen and the roller were all recommended and getting some PT was suggested. It was also apparent that almost every runner gets an injury at some point in their career. It just comes with the territory.
Being patient is the most difficult part of recovery. I had plans to run a lot of 5K and 10K races this summer as part of my training for my fall marathon. I’m glad I didn’t sign up and pay for those races now. Registration fees are normally nor-refundable. With each passing week the marathon gets closer and just thinking of the date makes me nervous. I’m going to start doing some short easy runs in the next week. If I feel any pain I’ll stop and take some more time off. If everything feels okay I’ll continue with short easy runs, just to be doing something.
This week’s pontification:
There is an adage that goes something like this:
“You’re never more likely to make a mistake than when you are absolutely sure that you are right.“
The logic is that when you are 100% confident in your choice, conclusion or way of thinking you stop looking for alternatives and disregard any facts or ideas that contradict your choice, conclusion, or idea.
In spite of better information you hold firmly to your beliefs even if the alternative is indisputably the better choice and disaster is imminent.
My running equivalent is this:
“You’re never more likely to injure yourself than when you are feeling strong, healthy and confident.”
When you have all of this going for you it is easy to feel that you can tackle any run at any pace. It makes it easy to disregard fatigue and disregard the fact that you are pushing yourself beyond your normal limits.
You can injure yourself in an instant and sometimes not even realize it.You may not feel an injury until the next day or your next run. While as humans and runners we need to push ourselves in order to make progress, we should not disregard common sense and safety. When we are at our peak or maximum we also need to realize that we cannot push much harder without risk of injury.
We all have limits. Go out and find those limits, but be careful about pushing too far beyond those limits.
Recovery can take a long time and is frustrating. Some injuries never go away completely, so it is best to try and avoid injury when you can.
Monday I wrote about my disaster in the locker room where a bottle of spray-on sun screen discharged completely into my gym bag and ruined my brand new, never worn tie. I’m still determined to salvage the tie and I’m having some luck.
I ran 10K Monday morning before work and thought I was doing great. I’ve never run before work and I was able to knock a good piece of my weekly mileage off. Over the course of the day my right hamstring got tight and started to hurt. Every time I got up from my desk my leg was killing me. On the drive home my leg hurt so bad that my foot was getting numb! It was unbelievable. So while I thought it was a great thing getting in a Monday morning run I had actually just caused myself problems.
After supper Monday night I ran over to Marathon Sports and bought a Thera-Roll. People have been raving about these rollers and what they can do for sore muscles. After my killer ride home from work I was desperate and willing to pay “whatever the cost may be” to get some relief.
As I mentioned Tuesday, the guy at Marathon Sports answered all of my questions and let me try out all of the rollers until I found the one that was just right.
I’ve used the roller every night this week and it seems to be working. But I can’t tell if the improvement is from not running or from rolling. Probably a little of both. I’m going to keep using the roller and see what happens. People have an almost religious zeal for these things. I’m also making an appointment with a physical therapist.
If you want to see what the roller is all about click on the photo.
I had my summer race season planned out in the spring. Part of it was running the BAA Distance Medley. This was the 5K the day before the Boston Marathon and now a 10K this weekend. So now I’m trying to figure out if my hamstring will allow me to run this race and if running this race is going to take me out of action for the rest of the summer. I know I can’t go for a PR and that just finishing is going to be an accomplishment. I’m taking it day by day right now.
Oh, and the third race in the BAA Distance Medley is the BAA Half Marathon the Sunday before the ING Hartford Marathon which is on a Saturday. So my hamstring is a mess, I have a 10K before I have enough time to recover and then I have a half marathon with barely enough time for a healthy runner to recover before a full marathon!
I know that injuries are just part of being a runner. Earlier this year I hurt my foot because I bought the wrong shoes. This time I was just being dumb, over ambitious and thought I was invincible. And at my age I’m supposed to know better! Ha!
Here is my pontification
I’m always hearing people talk about the glass being half-full or half empty. In my mind this congers up an image of people sitting around contemplating the “glass of life” and merely ruminating or stewing on it. Well isn’t that special.
I say pick the freaking thing up and drink down the glass of life! Half-full or half-empty, chug that bad boy down until it is dripping down your chin and you are gasping for air. I assure you, that you will find it quite refreshing!
Yesterday was a bad day for me. I got in a 10K run before work but ended up exacerbating the problems with my right hamstring. All day I had to get up and walk around to stretch it and felt like an old man each time. On the drive home my leg and hip were killing me and I couldn’t wait to get out of the car.
Pain and recovery
Last night I went and did something I’ve been thinking about for a long time: I bought a foam roller. People have been telling me how wonderful they are. I have finally gotten to the point where I have to try something different. The Coleman freezer pack under my leg while watching TV at night just isn’t getting it done.
I went over to Marathon Sports in Melrose and looked at the rollers they have. They are not cheap! I kept thinking these are extruded in some third-world country and cost a dollar to make. The guy at the store had me try a few out and answered my questions, all the reasons we go to running stores! The one I ended up buying cost $64.95!
After trying a few different rollers and asking lots of questions, I decided to go with the firmest one with the ridges, the Thera-Roll. I need to dig deep into that hamstring!
To save a few bucks, well a lot of bucks, I went with the 18 inch 6lb Thera-Roll. As I walked out of the store and then drove home, my hamstring seemed to feel better all ready. “Is that possible” I thought? I only rolled for a few minutes and have no idea how I’m supposed to do this.
I used it some more when I got home. As a multi-tasker I was psyched that I could roll and watch Charlie Rose at the same time! Fantastic! Those ridges dug in good and deep and I could feel something going on.I only rolled for about 5 minutes and I have no idea if that was too long or to brief. I need to do some research today.
I’ll let you know what I find from my research and if this thing actually works.
Anyone who has been a runner for a while has probably run in the road at one time or another. Often runners encounter other runners, cyclist, dog walkers and cars and trucks. Even if you run on a trail or the side-walk you may have encountered all of these fellow travelers. On several occasions I have been running on a trail and had to negotiate a park ranger’s pickup truck or golf cart type vehicle.
“Right of way”
Runners often feel like they have the right of way as pedestrians. This may be true in some places but we do need to be both responsible and careful. When we encounter vehicles while out running, runners often loose in the collision. Is it worth being “right” or being a little aggressive with someone we feel is in the wrong?
I see runners running too far into the street or running three abreast and blocking traffic. With my own running club I occasionally see an oblivious mob taking up most or all of a street with no awareness of what they are doing. Sometimes patient drivers will give them the room and time they need to eventually get out-of-the-way.
Too often I have had cars pass way too close, even when they have plenty of room. I’ve had cars slow down and follow me as they try to give me room but only piss me off or freak me out. How about the cyclists who refuse to move at all? They know the challenges of the road but sometimes they act just like cars.
Most people are respectful and careful. Drivers pass at a safe distance, cyclists move over a bit, dog walkers have their pets sit or pull them a little closer. Many people out walking are aware of their surroundings and will move right even without a prompt.
Here are a few things that all of us should keep in mind as runners, cyclists, walkers or drivers.
Share the road and be courteous. Stay on the sidewalk or side of the road out of traffic. I always run inside of the white line on the side of the road. Most drivers do not cross over the white line and by staying inside the line I give them plenty of room. The side-walk is the best bet for safety.
When running in a group, run single file on busy or narrow roads. Don’t run three abreast so you can chat. That just pisses people off. And don’t run in the middle of the road blocking both lanes. That is completely inconsiderate.
When someone gives you the “go-ahead” at an intersection, wave politely and smile. Let them know that you appreciate their courtesy. They are more likely to be courteous next time.But keep an eye on them, they may still pull out in front of you.
At a cross walk, Don’t dart out in front of cars just because you are at a cross walk. The car can still hit you.
If there is a walk light button use it sparingly. If there aren’t any cars or they are far enough away that you can cross safely without stopping traffic, don’t press the button! A few times I have been stopped at a red light at a cross walk and watched a runner who crossed the street before the light changed and before I was even close to the cross walk. Even as a runner this pisses me off. Imagine how other stressed out and hurried drivers must feel. It doesn’t help our case any if we are carelessly stopping drivers when we don’t need to. Use your best judgment and be careful!
Always assume the driver doesn’t see you.
When a cyclist is approaching you, move over and look them in the eye. On a road a cyclist can only move over so much, so you need to give them room. By looking them in the eye you know if they see you and can usually get a pretty good idea of what they are going to do. I often get an appreciative nod or smile when I do this. They don’t want to hit you and they don’t want to get hurt either.
Run against traffic so you can see if a car or cyclist is going to pass too close. Be prepared to jump out-of-the-way. I want to see the white of their eyes before they hit me!
It’s a good idea to run with proper ID just in case. If you do get hit and become unconscious the people who are trying to help will need to contact your family. Some people suggest carrying your cell phone so you can call for help. When traveling carry your business card and the hotel room key.
Runner’s World suggests that in the dark, drivers can see you up to half a mile away if you are wearing a head lamp and up to a quarter-mile away if you have a flash light. At 150 yards bright clothing can get drivers attention. You should avoid dark colors at night and wear as much reflective material as possible. I’ve been running behind people in the dark many times. When a car comes up behind us and their lights hit the people in front of me, they often light up like a Christmas tree.
When I run after dark in the Fall or Winter I often wear a reflective vest and an LED head lamp. While I feel like a DPW worker, sometimes it is not enough and cars still get too close. You have to ALWAYS be aware.
You should always be aware of your surroundings. Know the area you are running in and if it is safe or unsafe at certain times. I see people, especially women, walking with ear buds and being totally oblivious. To me this is just asking for trouble. I often call out “To the right”, but these people cannot hear me and I’ve had some close calls. If they can’t’ hear me and I’m trying to get their attention, imagine how easy it would be for someone to hurt them.
It is easy to get lost in your thoughts or just space out while running. A few times I’ve almost been run over by a cyclist or run into someone else because I was not paying attention. You may think you are alone out there but you’re usually not.
If you are approaching an intersection or cross walk and see a runner waiting, flash your lights if you are going to slow down and let them cross. They may just reach for that cross walk light button and make you stop.
Runners need some room when you are passing them but you don’t need to go into the other lane. Also, don’t drive next to a runner for long. I get nervous when a car slows down and drives beside or behind me. I guess they are waiting for a good time to pass, but I’m just waiting for them to hit me.
I often run on the sidewalk or paths in a park. I’m always encountering walkers who are deep in thought, conversation or just deep space. Two or three people walking side by side having a great chat; Fantastic. But how do they expect me to get around them?
I’ve yelled out “To the right” many times. Often people look around in complete bewilderment. Totally confused as to what to do; what side is my right anyway? As a walker please try to stay to the right side of the path and please try to pay some attention to your surroundings. And take off the ear buds.
I used to yell out “On your left”, but I think people were more confused by that. I think that people have an easier time responding to the command to get to the right. When you tell them you are on their left they’re not sure what to do about that. It is really amazing how many people seem to forget what side is their right side.
In 2009 I felt that I had become a runner by virtue of running several marathons and branching out into 5Ks, 10Ks and half-marathons.
Since 2009 I have become more dedicated to the sport and my training has become more consistent. Between marathons I run many 5K, 10K and half-marathons. Last year I ran in 14 races whereas in 2010 I only ran in four races.
I keep much better records of my training and I rarely go more than two to three days between runs. Usually I run three days a week and often have a long run on the weekends of over 10 miles. My base miles are now in the 20-25 mile range and I did get to over 35 miles per week during my training for the 2012 Boston Marathon.
I start planning for a race when I start training for it. Most 5K and 10K races don’t require additional training as I run those distances several times a week. For a Half or Full Marathon I use the Runner 2.0 process and start planning backwards from the finish line.
The plan begins with: “What is my goal time?” Goal time is based on my recent race times and how my training has been going. I also take into consideration what the course is like and what type of weather can I expect?
With my goal in mind I put together a training plan to achieve my goal. I do not have the training time or conditioning to set overly aggressive goals but I am always pushing myself.
This summer my goal is to run 5Ks at 7:30 pace and 10Ks at 8:00 pace. Later in the year I hope to run a half-marathon at an 8:00 pace. My stretch goal is to run the ING Hartford Marathon at a 7:46 pace and qualify for Boston. This is going to be very difficult to do, but I never thought I’d run any distance under an 8:00 pace. Last year I starting going under the 8:00 pace for 5Ks and my last half-marathon was at a 8:12 pace. I can do this.
Am I a Runner Yet?
But do I feel like a runner? Am I a runner? We are all born runners. Our bodies are made for running. I run, but do I feel like I’m a runner? To me it still feels audacious to say “I’m a runner”. Bruce Jenner, Joan Benoit, Ryan Hall are runners. Compared to them I’m a couch potato. They run my weekly miles before breakfast! But, compared to 90% of America, I am a runner.
Are you a runner? Do you consider yourself a runner? When did you feel like you were a runner?
The 2003 Boston Marathon was an amazing experience. It was my first marathon AND it was Boston, the grand-daddy of them all. Well, except for that one in Greece. I was never an athlete growing up, and had never participated in anything as strenuous as a marathon before.
When I crossed that finish line in front of the Boston Public Library on Boylston Street, it felt like a religious experience.
I don’t recall exactly what I thought, felt and said when I crossed the finish line but it was spiritual in a non-religious way and it changed the way I thought about myself and my life. It wasn’t a thunder-clap moment. It did take time for me to realize the change.
I was filled with joy and excitement and proud to have my oldest daughter with me as I crossed the finish line. It is a moment I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Even though I was under prepared, I had managed to finish one of the most demanding athletic events known to man. My feet had blisters, my hips hurt and my left calf and Achilles were killing me. I finished in the bottom 90th percentile but through will power and drive I finished and achieved my goal.
I had never been very goal oriented in my life. Going to college and getting a job were almost automatic and part of the natural flow of life. I didn’t go to college with any particular goals other than graduation. I was not a driven, goal oriented student and my grades reflected that. But getting through school did require a certain amount of effort, dedication and focus. Quitting smoking and surviving unemployment also took will power and a focus on goals.
By the time the 2005 and 2006 Boston Marathons came around I had become goal focused. While my running was not very disciplined, I did more training and kept better track of it. I had begun to understand what it took to run and finish a marathon and I knew I wanted to do it better than the last time.
In 2004 I started an MBA program with six-week long classes. This forced me to become very focused, motivated and goal oriented. The time spent studying for my MBA changed my life as much as running did.
In 2003, in some sort of sense, I thought I was a runner. I had finished Boston and before that a half marathon. I was off and running, so to speak! I signed up for the Ocean State Marathon in Providence, RI in October and continued to run over the summer. My records from 2003 are lost to time but I know I did not train like I train now. At most I ran three days a week and rarely more than 7.5 miles at a time. I do not recall running at home after work or on the weekends. My weekly miles were probably never over 25 and my long run was 7.5 miles.
I managed to finish Providence in 4:34 which was a 37 minute improvement over my Boston finish. I was psyched! A guy on the bus on the way out to Hopkinton in April 2003 told me I could knock an hour off of my time if I kept at it, and I had knocked 37 minutes off in 5 months! Wow! I was over half-way.
I did feel much better at the finish of Providence and don’t remember losing any toe nails. It did rain lightly for most of the race and I discovered nipple chafing that day. Oh Joy!
Somewhere in the middle of the race the person I was running with pointed at my shirt and said “look”. I was shocked to look down and see two huge red blotches on my shirt. It didn’t really hurt until I saw them and then I couldn’t stop thinking about them. All of a sudden they were very sensitive and stung. I was such a newby I didn’t have the right jacket or anything else to keep me dry and un-bloodied. I zipped up my London Fog jacket and kept on going. Yup, a London Fog jacket!
As I approached the finish line in Providence I found my wife and daughters behind one of the barricades. I managed to get my oldest over the barricade but my youngest was reluctant. I finally managed to get her over the top also and the three of us ran in the last few hundred feet. In my mind I can still see my youngest marching across the finish line with a cute look on her face and her arms swinging high.
Unfortunately MarathonPhoto’s ordering system was very difficult to work with and I never got to order any pictures from that marathon. A nugget of wisdom here, get any special photos ordered sooner rather than later. They do not keep them forever. In MarathonPhoto’s case it is only 10 months, which I did not know as I battled their ordering system.
Not getting those photos is one of the biggest regrets in my life. I keep telling myself it’s a wonderful memory and most people never get photos of special moments like that. My girls have never finished a race with me since.
So am I a real Runner yet?
After finishing two marathons and a half marathon I must have considered myself a runner. I was learning from my experience and adjusting my routines and my clothing. In mid-February 2006, I switched my running shoes from Asics to Brooks and started working on my blister problem. I found a silicone powder from Two Toms that seemed to work and still use it on my feet for marathons. I understood the importance of base miles and continued to run at work during my lunch break but dropped back to 10-15 miles per week.
In 2004 and into 2005 and 2006 there were months at a time that I did not run at all. I was busy with work, it was too cold or I didn’t have my stuff. At this time I also only ran marathons and without a race on my schedule I had no incentive to train. Since I could only get into Boston through my company’s lottery drawing I had no way of knowing if I would ever run a marathon again. So I settled back into my old lifestyle of work and family for the most part.
I managed to get a number for the 2005 and 2006 Boston Marathon through the lottery at work. At this stage in my life I did not consider myself a runner. Running was not an integral part of my life. It was not who I was or part of my identity. As such, I had not kept up with my training between marathons. After I got my numbers each year, I spent a few months training and that was it. Between marathons, I failed to maintain a base level of fitness, a base level of weekly miles. Each year I basically started over again.
As I progressed in my running and became a “runner” I came to understand how important it was to maintain my fitness level between events. After just a few weeks of not running you start to lose a significant amount of your fitness. Most experts say that you should not go more than two days between runs in order to avoid a reduction in fitness. By not running consistently between races I was losing everything I had worked for while training for the Marathon.
Base miles are an amount of mileage that runners maintain between events. For marathon training it is not unusual to run four or more days a week. Many amateur runners run 30-50 miles per week while training for a marathon. The pros often run over 100 miles per week. These are time demanding schedules and often come into conflict with daily lives. So between training for big races, most runners back off and maintain a schedule of base miles that allows them to have a life and avoid divorce!
Developing a plan and Discipline
In 2006 I was finishing up my MBA program and trying to sell my house on my own. It was the go-go days of the real estate boom and Isoldmyhouse.com kept telling me how easy it was to sell my house, with their help, of course. Between studies, cleaning and fixing things at my house, doing open houses, taking care of the family, going to soccer games and work, I was too busy to run very much.
So while I had sufficient notice that I would be running a the 2006 Boston Marathon, once again I was woefully under prepared. Once again I was starting all over again; from square one, from scratch essentially. Because my running schedule was so inconsistent I really didn’t have any base miles to start with.
The main difference in 2006 was that I really knew how far behind I was in my training. I had a firm understanding of how this would impact me on race day and how much work I needed to do to have a successful race. In 2006 I also had a better idea of how to prepare for the race. I was developing my process, my method and my routines.
Since 2003 I had learned a lot about running and how important it was to plan your training and your races. Since 2003, I made a few adjustments such as switching shoes and using powder to prevent blisters. In 2006 I knew that I needed to incorporate long runs into my training and thought it would be a good idea to try and run at least 26 miles a week. I’m sure the records I have are not complete, but they show I never got close to 25 miles per week in 2006.
In 2006 I ran Boston’s Run to Remember half-marathon, like I did in 2003. Many people use this race to gauge how well prepared they are for Boston, so I incorporated it into my training.
I felt pretty good during this race and recall feeling more confident in my running. In 2006 the race started in South Boston and went though Beacon Hill in Boston and crossed the Long Fellow Bridge onto Memorial Drive in Cambridge. Memorial drive is flat and I remember feeling like I could kick it out a bit here. Coming back over the Long Fellow Bridge into Boston I felt pretty good and knew there were a few miles to go. I hung on and managed to kick it again and ran in the last quarter-mile or so at a good pace.
Afterward I felt good. I felt like a runner and that I was among fellow travelers as we sat in the convention center and drank a few Harpoon IPAs.
I finished that race in 2:06 for a 9:34 pace which was pretty good for me at the time. I was hoping to run Boston at a 10 minute pace and felt that I was on track. In my age group and over all I finished in the bottom quarter and third respectively. This being a warm up for Boston, the race was loaded with strong runners.
In 2003 I finished Boston in 5:11, in 2005 4:59 and 2006 4:49. As a runner I was making progress, though very slowly. I still was not able to run Boston as fast as I had run The Ocean State Marathon in 2003, but Boston is a challenging course and I was more prepared for Ocean State.
Becoming Runner 2.0
In 2009 I won another number for the Boston Marathon in my company’s lottery. This time I knew that I needed more training and preparation for the race. This time I felt like I had a bit of a clue as to what I needed to do and what to expect on the course.
After running Boston three times before and four marathons all together, I had a good idea of what to expect on the course and what I needed to do to meet the challenge. I reflected on what I had done before for training and I knew it had not been enough. I also thought about how I would hydrate on the course and what I would eat and drink before the race. I was developing a plan. This is when I started to think of myself as “Runner 2.0”.
In the software business when a new and improved version of a program is released they call it version 2.0. And of course there is Web 2.0 now. I had the same body as I had in 2003, though six years older, with the same limitations and a few extra pains. So the “hardware” was still pretty much the same. What I did have was several years of running experience and an understanding of the training that was required to finish a marathon with minimal damage to myself. Everything that was new was in my mind, I had new software. So I called it Runner 2.0.
What is Runner 2.0?
Runner 2.0 is a way of looking at running as a process. As a Runner 2.0, you think about your training and you do it purposely and with a pre-defined plan of what you are going to do. Based on a fitness goal or the race you are training for, you pick a plan, or design your own plan, and stick with it as closely as possible. You can buy a plan or get a free one on-line from a variety of web sites.
It doesn’t matter what your goal is. It may be to qualify for Boston, to finish a 5K or to walk for 90 minutes per week. By establishing a goal and working backwards to create a plan to reach your goal you are utilizing the principals of Runner 2.0.
Runner 2.0 is not only about training for a race. Runner 2.0 is also about having a plan for running your race. Over time most runners develop a routine, or process, that they follow for every race. They know what they should and should not eat for a race. They know how much to drink and what clothes they should wear based on anticipated conditions. This routine or plan is constantly being revised depending on the race that is being trained for, time of year, aging of the runner or new things that are discovered.
Most people who are new to running start out like I did and just jump right in. While it can be exciting to start something new and see what happens, it can also cause disappointment and cut short your enthusiasm. Being mindful of what you are doing and setting realistic goals can help you to avoid injuries and to feel better about your progress.
One of my goals in writing this blog is to guide new runners, or walkers, in their journey from Runner 1.0 to Runner 2.0; to help them develop their very own process to successfully run a race or maintain a fitness program.
Some smart decisions
Because the weather is generally bad in Massachusetts during the Boston Marathon training season, I joined a gym. The only thing that I wanted in a gym was access to a tread mill when there was too much snow or ice, or it was less than 400 outside. This turned out to be a great decision as it eliminated all of my excuses. Even when the weather was terrible, the gym was warm and dry. This allowed me to get in 20-30 miles per week, which I thought was pretty good. It was a big improvement over my previous training programs anyway!
In the days before the 2009 Boston Marathon I listened to interviews with American runners Kara Goucher and Ryan Hall. It blew my mind when I found out that they were running over 100 miles per week. They both finished in 3rd place in the 2009 Boston Marathon. I know I will never run at their level, but this wakeup call made me realize that if I was ever going to reach my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon, I needed to step up my game.
To help me reach this goal I decided to join a local running club. I felt that being around experienced runners would be good for me. I could learn from their experience and the social aspect would keep me motivated. This turned out to be another great decision.
Most people in the club had much more experience than I did and they were all willing to give me advice. One thing I have found with almost all runners is that they are friendly and more than willing to help you out. I learned a lot by asking questions and applying what I learned.
The club I joined was The Melrose Running Club. They have a weekly run on Tuesday nights that I have been running since I joined the club. Leading up to the Boston Marathon they also have a Sunday Long Run. This is a series of 15 Sunday runs that range from 8 to 22 miles. In order to improve at the marathon distance I knew that I needed to both increase my weekly miles and also to incorporate a weekly long run into my routine.
If I had not joined this club I probably would not have been able to improve my running and deepen my interest in running. The social aspect and my personal goal to finish my weekly runs under a certain time have kept me coming back and kept me improving my running.
Running can be a solitary sport. I encourage you to seek out a club in your area. The Road Runners Club of America has a web site where you can look for a running club in your area. Their web address is: http://www.rrca.org
I finished the 2009 Boston Marathon at 4:49 which was just about the same time as I ran it in 2006. And while Boston is more challenging than a lot of other marathons I was disappointed that I had not been able to run a Personal Record, or PR. I spent less time walking and felt better at the end of this marathon but I was disappointed with my time.
I had incorporated everything I knew into my plan, I had joined a running club and I had trained more consistently and rigorously. But I was not making the progress that I wanted. I now had goals and a drive and desire to reach them. I had become a runner.