by Shelley Downing -
Rocky Mountain Sports
Preparing for a marathon can mean lots of
lengthy, lonely training runs. You find yourself spending extra time creating
courses long enough to get in those ever-important three- or four-hour slogs.
Wouldnt it be nice to take all that worry away and have someone else do the
planning for you?
Enter group marathoning. Now your runs no
longer have to be lonely and you can erase that ever-present Beatles song out
of your head. Lucky for us here in Colorado that there are scads of marathon
training groups for you to join and plenty of reasons to join them. While your
runs may still be long in a marathon training group, youll be running in
the company of new running pals, with coaching support and sports medicine
experts to answer training questions. Marathon training coaches create personal
training schedules to fit your level and they think up running routes for you,
so you no longer have to run in circles for three or four hours. Marathon
coaches have already figured out some perfect runs for youall you have to
do is show up.
Train and Raise Money for a Cause
Some of the most popular marathon groups are
run by charities like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Societys Team in
Training, the American Diabetes Foundations Team Diabetes, the Arthritis
Foundations Joints in Motion and the American Heart Associations
Train to End Stroke. These training groups work by having you raise money for a
particular charity and, in return, they pay your race entry fee, plus
accommodations and travel expenses. A lot of these groups run marathons in
exotic places like San Diego, Honolulu and Rome.
Groups like the Leukemia and Lymphoma
Societys Team in Training (TNT) also serve as an amazing network of
coaches, trainers and runners. TNT is the largest group-training program in the
country and has been around since 1988. This year they expect to have 30,000
participants. The TNT program provides you with a marathon schedule, weekly
coaching sessions and runners in your neighborhood who are training for the
same event. The group also helps you set a schedule for your fund raising and
offers up creative ideas to raise money. You get trained for a marathon, get in
great shape running with other runners and, at the same time, walk away with a
feeling of great pride that you raised money for an important cause.
Denver TNT Coach Maureen Roben meets with
runners ands sets schedules and weekly workouts. Roben, a former U.S. marathon
record holder, also coaches marathoners who are not running with the TNT group.
She holds speed work sessions each week and sets up long runs, which is
sometimes with other runners who are training for a marathon, too.
I am always available for my clients
(and for TNT runners). I have some runners who rarely contact me and some that
I have daily contact with. I encourage people to ask questions and give me
feedback. There are so many training schedules available on the Internet, in
books and a lot of them are very good, but I think having someone to bounce
things off of, and to schedule around your real life, is so helpful with
Other National Groups with Local
If youre set on running a marathon,
but dont have the time to raise money, there are plenty of marathon
training groups to join. A number of them offer five- or six-month training
programs that set you up for a fall marathon.
A number of national groups have local
chapters along the Front Range. Jeff Galloway, a marathoner, trainer and author
of numerous marathon training books, runs training groups in Boulder, Denver
and Ft. Collins.
Although we are a national program,
each city has its own program director, coaches and local race goals,
says Victoria Seahorn, national director of the Jeff Galloway program.
The advantage of a local group is that if you travel, you can join in on
a run with the local group in another area, so youll have no excuses not
to run while on vacation or on a business trip. Local group leaders stay
in touch with you weekly and you have access to Jeff Galloway via e-mail, which
has helped the Jeff Galloway program in Denver grow steadily for the past four
We have different pace groups so that
you can run with people who are equal to your fitness level, says
Seahorn. Our goal is to help get you to the start line injury-free and to
enjoy those early morning runs with a group.
Another national marathon training group
with a local chapter is DenverFit and BoulderFit. Each of these groups allows
runners of any level to join. The DenverFit program says they will train you
whether you are a couch potato, walker, casual jogger or a veteran marathoner.
It doesnt matter if youve never run a steptheyll get
you fit in 26 short weeks.
If anyone thinks they are committed to
train for a marathon, at some point they come face to face with reality as they
get into their 12- to 15-mile runs, says John Lanterman, co-director of
DenverFit. It can be overwhelming. We provide weekly motivation through
our coaches, our weekend group runs and lectures. Having buddies waiting for
you on Saturday mornings can sometimes make the difference between throwing in
the towel and making it through your training.
One of the pluses with these programs is
that they put each runner with a group of other runners with the same pace. The
natural outgrowth is that many participants find life-long running partners to
train with even after the program is over.
The BoulderFit and DenverFit groups train
for the Boulder Backroads Marathon, the Steamboat Marathon and the Chicago
In Colorado Springs, Carmichael Training
Systems (CTS) has created online training sessions that give runners easy
access to their own personal training program. The group meets at the Colorado
Running Company in Colorado Springs, and the program runs for 20 weeks and
includes individualized training calendars based on each participants
fitness level, which is determined by a Carmichael training system test.
Their spring training starts in April and
last year 85 people participated to prepare for a fall marathon. Along with its
marathon group, CTS has created an extensive network of more than just running
coaches. Theyve got nutrition coaches who are sports nutritionists, and
theyre also creating a network of cities that host training groups. In
addition, they hold mini clinics on strength training, heart rate training,
running psychology, nutrition and other running-related topics.
So if youve always wanted to run a
marathon but never knew where to start, or if youve always wanted your
own coach, dont hesitate. By joining one of the many marathon training
groups in Colorado, running your first or your next marathon will be a
wonderful experience minus the worry of figuring out where to train next.
Freelancer Shelley Downing trained for
(and completed) the 2002 Honolulu Marathon with the Leukemia and Lymphoma
Societys Team in Training.