To Join or Not to Join a Running Group? Or Strava-Stalk??

Hi friends, can you believe it’s already August? August?!

This was the year where I decided to start racing again. Not just running races, which I had done from time to time with friends during my running break. I wanted that competitive spark back and wanted to train and challenge myself to see how I could improve. Or at least I thought I wanted to train. My first race this year was in February. I had fully intended on training, more so to get back in the groove of running and not for time. By race day, I had gone on about 4 short runs. Luckily, I was running with a friend and we had each other for company and for motivation. Muscle memory kicked in and I finished the race without getting too beat up.

My next race, Windsor Half Marathon, fell in May. I definitely got more than 4 runs in, but the training was nothing close to what I used to do. My times for my shorter runs were getting faster but I didn’t really do any long distances. I went on two 10-milers right before the race, and it was only because my friend (same one from the February race) was on her training plan and I had someone to run with. SHOCKINGLY, I got a PR here! 1:42:51 (1:42:21 per my Strava app, but who’s counting the seconds)! Despite the rolling hills, I think adrenaline was just coursing through me and the beautiful scenery and cool weather helped.

Still on a high after the race in May, I signed up for one of my favorite races, the SF Marathon (second, more sleep-friendly half) in July. My training didn’t look too different from the one for May, except I got no long runs in, but my times were still getting faster. However on race day, the adrenaline I usually benefit from at the start of the race did not kick in. At all. I felt like it was another day, getting up early and dragging my feet to go for a run. By mile 2, my mind kept trying to tell me that it was okay to slow down and that I should. I ignored it and when I had my Gu at mile 5, I felt a little better for a couple of miles. Then the mental bonk started to creep back in. Then my calf started cramping the last two miles. I finished with a course PR but felt like crap. Literally. Let’s just say I had to take Imodium, which I’ve never needed to do before. That’s how shitty I felt.

My brother has been wanting to do a race with me and we signed up for the Berkeley Half Marathon in November. Plenty of time to train. But what I’ve realized is that I don’t have the motivation to train. I have an idea of what the cause might be but with this being a public space, I’m not ready to air my thoughts on that. Plus, it’s irrelevant to the blog. Anyhow, I started looking into running groups near me since at this moment, I need other people to be accountable to in order to show up for a run. One of the larger running clubs looked interesting, their run schedule fit with my availability, but their membership dues are $150 for a year. A bit steep for me. Another club is cheaper, with membership at $50 per year but their scheduled runs don’t work with my schedule. I’ve looked at some meetups but they tend to be for specific groups of runners or locations and none appealed to me. I mentioned this to two people and they both suggested I “Strava-stalk” runners on the app (term used by my brother-in-law). This method had worked successfully for both of them, finding more than just running friends in the process. They suggested I look at the segments I like to run, find people who are around my pace and maybe live nearby or run similar routes, and like their runs and suggest a run together. That sounds so WEIRD to me! But is it weird??? Has anyone else done this or had it happen to them. Would save me a ton of money. Not sure how I would feel if a stranger approached me on the app and suggested meeting up for a run. If I happen to muster up the courage to message a few people, I’ll be sure to share how it goes.

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