Find strength in numbers

  • This was printed in June of 2014 in The Madera Tribune, a newspaper in Madera, California. This was the 56th installment of my weekly column, Mind Over Miles.

Nothing is more crucial to goal-oriented training than motivation, and nothing is more

motivating than another runner — or a whole group of them — promising to meet you for

a run.

I wholeheartedly believe this, and I back it up with the huge improvements that I’ve seen

over the last 16 months in several members of my beloved group, the Wicked Fast

Wascally Wunnahs.

I’m sure Madera’s Team 100 Challengers, Finishers, and Posh Movement gals can attest

to the same. When others are running alongside you and holding you accountable, you

enjoy the workout more and become a better athlete.

Our group meets at 5 a.m. and it’s a struggle sometimes to get out of bed and venture out

into the (now hot and humid) darkness when my perfectly plumped pillow and cool

cotton sheets are so much more inviting to my weary and sleep-deprived body. But as I

reach to tap the snooze button on my cell phone alarm I always think of something that

forces my legs to swing out of bed.

“What if new runners come out today? I hate being the last to learn someone’s name,” I

think, or: “I need to talk to (insert name of any one of our dozens of runners) about

(injuries, last weekend’s race, or any of the hundreds of posts I’ve seen on Facebook

since the last time we ran).”

Or my favorite: “I’m going to get so much flak from the rest of the group if I don’t show

up today.”

When I am really struggling to get my feet to touch the floor — and into my Nikes —

instead of staying nestled within my covers, I think about the two workouts that I had to

do alone last month. My husband was out of town and I couldn’t find anyone willing to

come over to my house at 4:45 a.m. to stay with my kids, (unbelievable, right?) so I had

to run a bit later — alone, and in the heat.

The first workout was on a Monday, six miles of grueling hill repeats. For one, it was a

course I had never done before, and even with a thorough explanation from Coach Brad I

still ended up getting lost.

Secondly, my pace was all over the place. Without my group surrounding me I am utterly

incompetent at keeping a 9:30- to 10-minute-per-mile warmup pace. Then my hill-repeat

pace was too slow (about 9 minutes per mile) and then too fast (an unsustainable 6:35 per

mile pace.)

Then there was the heat. The difference between 5 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. is approximately

206 degrees. Okay, just kidding, but it was at least a 20-degree difference and highly

uncomfortable with the sun scorching me for an hour.

The second solo workout was a Wednesday set of Yasso 800s, or half-mile fast repeats

with quarter-mile jogs in between. I thought I was supposed to do seven of them, but it

was actually just five. Doing more than was required was not even the worst part of the

workout.

First there was the unbearable heat that caused me to shed every item of clothing that I

possibly could without getting arrested. Then there was the four-foot-long snake that

decided it wanted to chill out in the middle of the running path, forcing me to dart several

feet around it and then slow down to warn every approaching runner and cyclist about

Mr. Slithers up ahead.

Then there was the fact that someone stole the shirt I had cast off to avoid a heat stroke.

Why anyone would want my sweaty extra-small tech tee, I’ll never know.

But the very worst part was not having my running buddies around to push me. My goal

was to run each half-mile interval in three minutes and five seconds — a feat that is

nearly unachievable for me even when flanked by my speedy companions. That day I just

couldn’t do it. I went home tired, shirtless and mentally defeated.

I don’t want to feel like that again. So when my phone chimes at 4:25 a.m., I stagger out

of bed, into my running clothes, and off to the park to meet up with the best running

group a girl could ask for.

06-12-14Mind Over Miles

Photo Courtesy of Brad Castillo Members of the Wicked Fast Wascally Wunnahs create a tunnel and cheer for runners finishing several miles of hill repeats on Monday. Columnist Farin Montanez is seen approaching.

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