For most of us, the best way to achieve our health and fitness goals is to join a group, club, or team. It is hugely beneficial to connect with others who are on the same path. It doesn’t matter whether you are doing a contemplative activity like yoga or meditation, or something vigorous like running or cycling. We tend to become like the people in our social networks. Being a regular member of a fitness group is the only proven way to reach health and fitness goals. The sense of community and the accountability that comes with being part of a health and fitness group is a powerful force that will propel you to success.
It can feel intimidating to join a fitness group, especially if you are just starting out or starting over after time off. Everyone else can seem so skilled.
Don’t let that feeling of intimidation keep you away. Go ahead and jump into what might feel like the deep end of the swimming pool. Be persistent and you will experience positive results.
For me, the Seattle Running Club (aka “SRC”) feels like the deep end of the swimming pool. Once upon a time I considered myself a runner, but now my body is adapted to cycling. Still, I get burnt out if I only do one sport, and I love the sensations during a fluid, relaxed run.
SRC hosts Wednesday evening workouts for members. Trisha and Uli Steidl, who are accomplished competitors and coaches, typically put together each evening’s workout plan. Depending on the time of year the workouts are held at the Garfield High School track, on a nearby hill, or a park along Lake Washington Blvd.
Flickr album of this week’s track workout.
Running on the track is usually done as an “interval” type workout. This means the workout is to alternate between running and jogging or walking intervals. Last Wednesday, for example, the workout was to do 200m runs followed by 200m jogs. Ten times. Then some one-mile intervals. If the full workout is too much, you can always do a variation. I usually cut the overall SRC track workouts in half.
Track workouts are a benefit to help leg speed, and the repeated hard efforts improve cardiovascular efficiency. Hanging out with runners who are faster than you will help make you faster and can be a source of inspiration.
The great thing about track and hill repeat workouts is that they are social even though everyone breaks up into smaller speed-based groups. And, at least as far as SRC is concerned, there is constant cheerleading and friendly chatter throughout the evening. Everyone benefits when the group works hard together.
In addition to “serious” running groups like SRC, there are plenty of less serious groups in the Northwest like the Baby Steps Running Group in Eugene, and beer drinking groups like the Flying Bike Co-op Brewery Run Club.
Check out these cycling and running groups in the Northwest, and find the best one for you: