Last December, I wrote a post featuring Stephanie, my cousin who was training for her first half marathon through Team in Training. Just a year later, she has completed two half marathons, a few shorter distance races and is looking forward to her third half this spring! She has definitely been bit by the running bug and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for her. Just yesterday, we ran our local Turkey Trot together, and (pending official results) she took almost 15 minutes off last year’s time!!! Read on for Steph’s experience training with TNT and why you might want to consider it for yourself!
A few months ago after I completed my second half marathon with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training, Kim asked me to write a guest post about training with a charity organization. I said yes, but it has taken me a little while to put my thoughts down in writing. Now that it is Thanksgiving Week, I’ve been thinking about what I am thankful for and my training and team has been on my mind, so here’s my post!
One year ago, the crazy idea to join Team in Training was circulating around in my office. In October we had lost a beloved co-worker to blood cancers and we wanted to do something that would honor her and help those who are suffering from the terrible disease…Enter Team Ellen, my running career, new friendships, and much more! So, if you’re thinking about joining a charity running group or why they exist, here’s what’s kept me coming back:
1. The Program – Showing up as a novice runner with a group of 50-150 people in running clothes can be intimidating (VERY intimidating). But TNT quickly breaks you up into pace groups and levels so your paired with people like you! Knowing that I wasn’t being compared or judged by someone running their 15th marathon at a 6:25 pace was assuring and absolutely makes you comfortable. You also have a Mentor and Go-To Coach who are there for you from day 1 to answer any questions you may have from fundraising to the giant blisters that your getting on your feet.
2. The Schedule- TNT has two Group Training Sessions (GTS) a week. Having these on my calendar not only got my butt out of the bed, but also got me excited to train! The comprehensive calendar you receive on day 1 aligns exactly how you’ll reach your goal, but gives you the flexibility to not feel guilty if you miss a day or two. It also gives you a realistic sense that you can do it – which is something that was extremely helpful to me as a new runner.
3. The Coaches- There’s soo much to be said about the amazing TNT coaches! All of the coaches that I’ve had the chance to work with are not only passionate about the cause but about getting you to your goal! From a goal time to just finishing they are there to help you and on race day, you will see those friendly faces cheering you on, giving you a tip or two, or even just running with you to keep your mind off of what your doing. It amazes me that most of these people have lives outside of TNT/running but make this huge commitment to be there 2-3times per week just for you!
4. The Friendships- From long runs when you just need to talk to keep going to events raising money towards the cause, your training buddies become your friends! Many runners have a group of friends to run their long runs with, for me even after the seasons have ended I still go running the extraordinary people that I trained with. 😉
5. The Cause- It’s easy to join TNT or another charity team for all if the reasons listed above — and it would be absolutely worth it. But what keeps people coming back is the cause. Over the past year I’ve heard amazing stories of people who have overcome cancer and are able to live normal lives and even train next to you and I’ve heard stories of brave adults and children who lost their battle with cancer. Being part of an organization which has nationally raised $1.4 billion with a goal to cure cancer is one that is worth being a part of. I’m not a scientist, so personally discovering a cure is probably not in my cards, I’m also not a professional runner and probably won’t ever win a race, I know I can run and fundraise in hopes that one day no one will suffer from blood cancers or any cancer for that matter. Finding another charity to work with would be a good problem to have;)
If you’re a seasoned running vet or a haven’t run more than a mile (that’s where I was) I urge you to give a charity running program a try! Even if you decide running isn’t for you at least you’ll know that you raised money for a good cause. You can check out the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training here: www.teamintraining.org.