4 Things To Consider Before Joining A Training Program

Training with a group—and a formal training program—can be a great option to stay motivated. Here's what to consider before signing up.

training program
Courtney on the track after a freezing and icy track workout with her training group last winter.

When I decided that I would target a spring marathon, I knew I’d need some motivation to make it through winter running. Of course, I had no idea how bad the weather would get, but I thought that signing up for a group marathon training program would be helpful to get through the winter. I trained with a group through a local running store in DC. Luckily it worked out really well for me.

If you are considering a formal training program, here are a few things to think about:

  • You don’t have to think about your training plan; it will be given to you. This is great because every run will be spelled out for you. With my plan I had four runs a week. All I had to do was take a pace from a recent race and use that to determine the paces for all the runs.
  • A pre-set plan does not always work for some runners. If you have a training plan that you already love, it could be tough training with a group who is using a different plan. That being said, since most plans only have a couple group runs (usually track work + a weekend long run), you can probably make it work even if you are doing your own thing.
  • If you run with music, you may have to make the switch. When I joined my group, I was still training with music. Because our group was roughly 100 runners, all heading out on the same streets, we were not allowed to listen to music on the long runs. We needed to be able to hear each other passing and hear anything our coaches were telling us on the run. I ended up loving this and have stuck with the no music while running ever since. If you feel truly beholden to music, that might be an issue for you.
  • When you run in a group, you have to balance running your own pace and letting the group encourage you. It’s so fun to have others to train with. Sometimes that excitement can push you, and other times it can make you ignore what your body is telling you. I’ve had times where I’ve gone out too fast or too slow because I wanted to run with friends. While it’s okay to dial it back or ramp it up once in a while to run with your buddies, you want to make sure you are running at your pace, not someone else’s.

I loved training with my group. The commitment of knowing my buddies were waiting for me, plus knowing that I’d paid money to run with this group. got me out to run in freezing temperatures, ice, and snow!