Last night was a sad one for me because it was the last training session with my running group still we start things up again in February. Now I realize most of you wouldn’t get upset about this, but my training partners have become close friends since the group started on August 12, and they have done a lot to make me a a stronger person (both as a runner and an individual). More than anything else my running group has helped me push the limits physically and continue challenging myself.
This wasn’t always true… for about the first three weeks I ran in speed Group Four, which is made up of pretty strong runners, but I was able to outdistance the rest of them easily. The goal of our group of course was to push beyond our physical boundaries (it’s actually called Beyond No Boundaries) so choosing to stay in a group that made me look like Usain Bolt wasn’t the right choice. However I was more interested in being part of a group that let me be one of the strongest runners instead of one that left me wheezing and gasping in the back.
This is why I’m so grateful one of our mentors (runners who lead the group) challenged me to join Group Three since otherwise there is a good chance I would have spent the whole time running a slower pace. A few weeks later while running with the Three’s I saw some faster runners (Group Two) at the bottom of a hill we had just come over, and decided to see if I could catch them. By mile three I had officially become a member of Group Two.
Now being a Two is an high honor since it means your in the top five or six of the entire running group (about forty people), so I was pretty satisfied with my accomplishments. But instead of allowing us to rest or relax, our mentors continued pushing us to find new challenges.
The first night we did speed training around a track the groups mentor Mike asked what pace we would like to run (how fast of a mile). We decided on an 8:23 mile which is very good, he responded by just smiling and saying “well let’s see what we can do.” Out of our four laps we ran each one was below an 8:00 mile, with the last one being about a 7:30 mile.
It was around this time that one of the other runners in Group Two (a guy named Chris) got the idea that he wanted to catch up with Group One. I thought this idea was crazy since these were the three fastest runners and would easily run below an 8:00 mile, but by this point was used to taking on crazy challenges, so accepted it. One Monday evening after trying for weeks we finally did catch up and finish a five-mile run with them (technically they finished about ten seconds before me but it counts).
At that point Group One’s mentor encouraged me to start training with them when we did speed work around the track. I was ALWAYS the last one in the group and struggled to keep up the pace but whenever he asked “you okay Johnny boy?” my response was “every things fine” (just so we are clear he is the only one allowed to call me Johnny Boy). Those training sessions helped me set two personal records at a 5k race in October (fastest mile, fastest race) obliterating my previous personal best time by four minutes. I can guarantee you that wouldn’t happen if I stayed with group four.
A few weeks ago since there was nobody from Group Two I joined up with Group One for speed training for six laps around the track. After lap two I felt like was going to throw up and told the others just to go without me, “come on Johnny Boy you can do this” was the response. We did finish lap six together (sort of) and they officially named me as part of their group (believe they were just having pity on me). The thing is I would rather be the last person lagging behind everyone else while giving it his all than someone who is able to easily outrun other group, because thats the only way to push past your boundaries.
So thanks challenging me to do more guys…I will see you in February…as part of Group One