The Group Workout

It sends tremors of fear into the hearts of newer athletes everywhere. A GROUP workout. Eek.

As adults, we don't have P.E. class in our lives anymore, and only a few have a coach directing each and every workout. Which means we either work out alone, with a few friends or we join a group. I was in the first camp for a long time. I worked out alone. Alone doing a DVD, alone running on a path, alone alone alone. I was too scared to run/workout with anyone else. I didn't want to be the new person doing everything wrong or moving too slow. It was terrifying to think about sticking out like that. I didn't want my friends to realize a weakness about me, and I didn't want my first impression to strangers be my lack of athletic ability. So, I avoided it for a long time.

Luckily I have some great friends who continued to ask me to join them on a run or to lift. That led to my first half marathon and my first good relationship with strength training. Fast forward a year or two, and I found myself living in a state where I knew no one. My running buddies were an eight hour drive away. Therefore, I found myself at a crossroads. I either run alone or find new training pals. I actually took the former approach first. I trained for the Capital City Half last year all on my lonesome. And damn those long runs were lonesome. Since I had been through the paces before, I knew I could manage the distances, but in reality it kind of sucked to have no one to suffer with alongside me.

Starting to get bored of "just running," I decided to try out triathlons last summer. Because of my lack of running buddy-ship, I figured that if I added in some other sports (like biking and swimming), it would help break up the monotony of solo workouts. Turns out that my foray into a new realm of sports actually helped nudge me into a new community, too. By no means am I yet connected to the multi-sport community in Columbus. But I am hoping to change that.

I've taken little steps. I have my awesome Run Club at LifeTime Fitness (Easton). We have a solid core of 6-10 people who meet every Wednesday and Sunday to either do intervals on the dreadmill when its cold or pound the pavement/trails when the weather is acceptable. Running with this group has helped me improve in more ways than I ever thought possible. I try to keep up and try not to get passed. I run faster and farther than I ever thought I would. A five mile run no longer feels like it's a "long run" - it feels like that should be the standard when I go out. A three or four mile jaunt is a "quick run" (even though, honestly, my times are still far from "quick").

As the temps begin to warm, I plan to join some sort of group for Open Water swims, and a group for bike rides. It may be the local triathlon club or some of the cycling groups suggested to me by awesome readers (thanks, BDD!) But I now know that you just have to take the leap and surround yourself with people who perform better than you do. It is a surefire way to ramp up your own performance.

I actually started this post yesterday morning and didn't finish. Oddly enough, I have seen similar themes about group fitness in several places in the past few days:

A NYTimes article on how folks need "connection and meaning" to keep working out.

Blogger Nicole at Geek Turned Athlete just joined a very hardcore running group.

Have you ever had those butterflies meeting a new training group for the first time? Are you glad you went?

P.S. Anyone know what happened to Q? He seems to have disappeared from the blogosphere!!!


D said...

Thanks for linking my blog! :) I appreciate the support, as always!

Big Daddy Diesel said...

I saw Q comment on a blog yesterday, I know he was dealing with an injury issue, besides that I dont know where he went

Ms. Duffy said...

I still haven't made it past the "doing it alone" phase, ha ha! I run a lot of road races and will join the NYRR group runs during marathon season, but that's about it. It still freaks me out, and even though I'm long past thinking I'll be the slowest in a race, I'm still afraid of being slowest in a running group. And that's the sport I've been doing for years - I can't even imagine cycling with a group, but I might go for some OWS with the Rye Triathlon club when it gets warm. We'll see.

Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete said...

You will soooo excel with your tri group. I'm really looking forward to some group workouts with them once it gets a little warmer out!