I’m very, very excited to share that I’ve got a new assignment, starting next week. I’m going to be one of the WeightWatchers Momentum WalkIt Challenge trainers (that’s a mouthful, eh?) in the Chicago area. My assigment: take about 20 of my newest friends, and help them train for their first walking, or running, 5k.
I thought about my new folks a lot on Saturday, as I ran this week’s group run with my running group, Chicago Endurance Sports. I’ve been running, walking, or run/walking with them since 2003, and yet they still put up with me! I’ve been the slowest, the almost-slowest, and the most fun (if I do say so myself) in that time. And I do keep coming back, for at least 2 seasons a year. My coaches are legendary (and I’m lucky to have them), but they’re also just nice people – with a sense of humor, and a practicality that helps a Big Girl keep coming back year after year.
So why do I come back? Simple – because it’s fun, and I can consistently be active, and finish races, if I train with that group.
Now, don’t underestimate the power of what I just wrote. A running group who can handle a Plus Runner is, in my experience, a bit unique. Why? Because we’ve got “issues”. We start slow. We don’t have as much endurance built up (usually). We don’t fit in the damn clothes in the running shop. And many of us have never accomplished something as big as a 5k or as crazy as a marathon. With my group, I get coaches who take the time to know me, know my issues, and help me get through them. But it’s not just the coaches who keep me coming back.
My running group is comprised of many people who’ve become friends, drinking buddies, acquaintances, and smack-talking-running-path-sharing-zealots with. I know some names; I don’t know others. On an average Saturday morning in the fall, when the season is fresh, we’ll have 300+ people standing around, waiting for a run to begin. We run in groups of 2-20, with people at similar paces, and damn, do we have fun.
Want to know how Suzie’s date went last night? Step right up. Miss an episode of Lost this week? Someone can fill you in. Curious about what to wear for the Indy Mini? Or wondering if that nagging knee pain is something you should pay attention to? Look no further.
And don’t even THINK about skipping a Saturday workout. Because we know where you live, and yes, we will call you. We will ask you – and we will most definitely make sure that you got your miles in even if it wasn’t with us. Why? Because there’s a sense of accountability – of taking care of one another, too – that happens when you train with someone.
More than that, it’s a sense that you’re accomplishing something really, really cool together. And with friends, it’s much easier. This past Saturday, I set out to run 4 or 5 miles. My group is training for a 1/2 marathon in May, and this weekend, they were set to run 10 miles. Because I’m focused right now on weight loss, and not endurance, I’ve limited myself to 5-6 miles this season (and I’ve felt great). So on Saturday, when I found myself keeping up with a group who I’d never run with before because they were speedier than me, I felt wonderful! We had so much to talk about, and it was a gorgeous day. Soon 4 miles slipped by – and I kept going. Then 5 miles slipped by, and my friends said “can’t you just stay till 6?”. And pretty soon, we agreed that I’d just walk in for the last 4 miles.
And without meaning to, I’d done 10 miles with my friends. I’d actually done it more FOR my friends – because I knew it was a big day, long miles, and it would be easier to cover if they were entertained with my legendary story telling (ha!) or simply, with a distraction.
Yes, I paid for it a bit on Monday. NO, I wouldn’t recommend throwing off 10 miles if you’re not trained. But take note: making yourself go 10 miles, when you mean to go 5 – that is what a good group does for you. And with friends, training to walk 3.1 miles of your first 5k, might be the same as my ten miles. It’s something you would NEVER think you’d do – but with the encouragement, companionship, and general fun surrounding you, you’re helpless to stop.
So if you’re interested in learning to walk a 5k, or learning to run one, I’d strongly suggest you go here: www.teamweightwatchers.com and sign up for a training group in your area. Because you’ll probably find, that even if you’re freaking out about whether you really ARE capable of doing 3.1 miles, that your group can help get you there.
Welcome to the team!
Questions? Drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org .