Live Kindly :: My First Running Group

By Kelly Krause
Running | Camille Styles via Lulu Lemon

EDITOR’S NOTE: When our friend Kelly Krause shared her incredibly inspiring “How to :: Change Your Life” story of losing over 135 pounds in a year, it seemed to resonate with so many of our readers. We love her enthusiasm and passion for her adventures in wellness, so we invited her to start taking us along for the ride on her new experiences in fitness. Her new series kicks off at her first ever running group! 

Running | Camille Styles via Lulu Lemon

Glacially paced is how I best define my running style. While I fully enjoy a run around Austin’s Lady Bird Lake, I mostly run for leisure without a timed goal in mind. As a run-walk type, I typically shy away from joining friends, worrying I’ll slow them down or be too out of breath to chat.

When I ran the Austin Half Marathon in February, I finished completely sore and in pain from improper training, nutrition and guidance. Albeit an acheivement to cross the finish line, I immediately wanted to learn how to train properly for the next one. Shortly after I met Jennifer Howard-Brown, Running Coach with Rogue Running who encouraged me to try a running group. I figured this might be the key to overcoming my fear of running with others, while gaining the skills I need to finish a race feeling good.

Jenn and I met over coffee to discuss my current fitness state, running aspirations and time commitment. Given how much I travel and cross train, we decided that training for a Half Marathon in November is doable without being overwhelming. And thankfully running is one of the easier workouts to fit in while traveling — no gym membership required! 

Running | Photo by Carlos Serrao | Camille Styles

From a nutrition and hydration standpoint, I felt prepared. I swapped my double iced coffees for water two days prior and got the appropriate mix of good carbohydrates and protein to fuel my workout. But the thought of the actual workout left me a nervous wreck. At most, I run 2-3 miles once or twice a week so I’m a complete novice. I received an email from Jenn detailing the workout that read “The group is 3+ months into training and really fit right now.”I immediately thought I was running with a group of elite pros training for the Olympics. What if I’m the new girl that slows everyone down? What if they try to talk to me and I’m so winded and quiet, they think I’m rude? What if I fall down (I’m pretty clumsy)?It was that new-kid-on-campus fear where you just want everyone to like you. From the moment I arrived to the workout, everyone was extremely kind and inviting. Jenn introduced me to a few folks she thought I’d pace well with throughout the workout (she was right) and they welcomed me with open arms.

Nike Ad | Camille Styles
Not once did I feel like my glacial pace held anyone back, nor did I feel the pressure to hold a conversation. The small group setting kept me motivated and determined to push harder than I normally would. Every fitness level was represented and everyone had different objectives. Jenn was encouraging when the workout was challenge, but didn’t over-push. She’s aware of her athletes and caters her approach to coaching based on their needs. And that part about not being able to breath or talk? That had to do with my pace.When Jenn had me slow down (yes it gets slower than glacial), I was able to talk. She said a lot of factors can affect pace — temperature (it was humid), nutrition, hydration, recovery, stress, sleep, etc., so it’s important athletes listen to their bodies and adjust when necessary.One piece of advice that stuck with me is to learn to run by effort and not be so focused on running specific paces most of the time. The group had a wonderful comradery and established respect for one another. Everyone does the same workout, so there’s an immediate bond when you finish. Though, I felt the bond before I even started.Before I left, I received the appropriate “you did it” hi-fives and a few quipped, “I hope you come back!” Little did they know, I already decided I was coming back less than 10 minutes into the workout.Tip: when joining a group for the first time, it’s proper etiquette to introduce yourself to the coach / leader and athletes in the group. We started off with 1.35 mile warm-up at our own moderate pace. Then took a 5-minute rest and hydrated (hydration is key, especially in this humid Texas climate). We continued with a round of drills to keep our heart rate up and went straight into our workout, which was a steady but hilly 2k loop (about 1.24 miles), repeated 2-3 times. We then finished with a 1.35 mile cool-down. Jenn adjusted the workout to fit everyone’s fitness ability and goals — including myself as a first-timer and another athlete who just ran a half marathon a few days prior. When the workout ended, I looked down at my Garmin, saw that I completed 4.1 miles and smiled. I loved it.
brooks running shoes

*Kelly’s favorite kicks from Brooks

What I Learned + Tips for Joining a Running Group:

1. Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate
Not only is it important to hydrate during your workout, but you should start hydrating the day before, espcially in humid climates like Austin. I’m a personal fan of Nuun tablets to help replenish electrolytes, but there are plenty on the market to choose from. A few runners carried handheld water bottles during the workout, which Jenn recommends for longer durations or at higher intensities.

2. Nutrition is Key
Everyone is certainly different with their needs, but Jenn recommends eating a light meal 1.5-2 hours before longer runs (longer than 45 minutes). Ideally this meal would have a mix of carbs, fat and protein like a banana and yogurt or half a PB&J sandwhich. My pre-run favorite is half a banana with almond butter.

3. Post-Run
Within 30 minutes of your workout, Jenn suggests taking in recovery fuel between 150-250 calories, ideally with a 4:1 carbs to protein ratio. Her go-to’s include Vega Recovery Accelerator or a smoothie with fruit and protein. A post-run stretch with a foam roller or Trigger Point tool will help speed muscle recovery and prevent injury. Within 1.5 hours, she recommends eating a true meal and of course, hydration is important. My post-recovery meal that evening was grilled salmon, half a sweet potato, zucchini and a little watermelon.

4. Which Running Group is Right for Me?
Jenn said that this all depends on the athlete’s level of experience and goals. Rogue Running offers programs for all levels, but none are a one-size-fits all. Most groups include all levels of athletes and the coach helps adjust the training to ensure the athlete gets the most of his/her training. I liked that at 13 weeks into their program, Jenn was still able to tailor the workout to my experience and needs.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4