After 18 weeks of training with the official Run Wild Missoula Marathon & Half Marathon Training Class, I finally crossed the finish line of my very first half marathon. Success! Before I even left the finisher’s area—draped in a shiny new medal and juggling Good Food Store fare, flowers and a PowerAde with two hands—I was already asked that important question: Are you going to do it again?
We all hear it. It’s what fellow runners ask each other as they soak their tired legs in the Clark Fork. It’s what our families ask as they listen patiently through yet another long description of the things we saw during the race (“A guy played the piano while wearing a tuxedo!”).
For me, the answer was easy. “Yes!” Not just a yes to whether I would do the Missoula Half Marathon again next year, but also a resounding yes for whether I would sign up for the training class again.
Here’s why coming back to the training class next year is such an easy decision:
1. You know exactly what you’re supposed to do. The coaches (yes, plural) have a very detailed and specific calendar for your training. As I trained for the half, I had the choice between a beginner and intermediate schedule. Same thing goes for the marathoners! No confusion here.
2. It can be incredibly motivating. Sure, I could read an article in Runner’s World for a bit of motivation, but nothing beats hearing Anders Brooker talk about race day. His speeches can get anyone pumped. (The free training shirt and water bottle doesn’t hurt, either!)
3. You get to run all over Missoula. It can get boring running through your own neighborhood every other day. In the training class, the coaches have a designated route every time we meet. By the end of the 18 weeks, I’d been through the hilly Rattlesnake neighborhood, the long and straight Bitterroot Branch trail, my favorite Milwaukee Trail and everywhere in between. We even ran along the official marathon route, which helped a ton once race day came along.
4. It prevents you from giving up. Without a training group, I could have quit without anyone noticing. That’s not the case when there are three coaches and almost 200 other runners who will notice if I’m gone! The sign-in sheet adds another layer of accountability as well.
5. You don’t have to run alone. Running can be a solitary adventure. Right on the very first day of the training class, Coach Anders encouraged us to talk to someone new. Not only are we encouraged to meet the other runners during the class, but they even set up social occasions beyond the runs—including a pizza and movie social!
6. Free breakfast after your Sunday long runs! The training class mom, Carol Brooker, is truly an angel. After a tough long run, athletes can come back to Run Wild Missoula for a seriously yummy breakfast spread she’s set out. Pastries, bread and cookies galore. There are even gummy bears and miniature chocolate bars for candy-fans like me. There were even pancakes after our biggest long run and an amazing barbecue picnic after the marathon.
7. Expert advice is easy to find. When you train alone, there aren’t any experts to ask for advice. But with the training class, you can ask Coaches Anders, David and Trisha for help. They even give us their email addresses if you’re too afraid to ask in person. Beyond the coaches, the training class also sets up events and talks with experts. We heard from physical therapists, physicians and nutritionists throughout to give us advice and answer questions.
8. The training class Facebook group is a huge help and a great way to connect with classmates. Sometimes you have a simple question that doesn’t seem like one with which you want to bother the coaches. Instead, we could go to the private Facebook group set up just for those in the training class with a simple “does anyone else take up to four miles before they find their stride?” Believe me, you’ll get answers. The classmates were invaluable when I had blister issues.
9. It’s full of great people. You soon realize that the class is filled with a wide variety of runners. There are classmates both young and old, of varying sizes and a wide range of fitness levels. Though I was one of the slowest runners in the group, I always felt comfortable and everyone made me feel welcome. Once you hear all of the “Great job!” comments during your first run, how can you not keep coming back?
10. The training group lives on after the race. Sure, you’re signing up for 18 weeks of intense instruction, but it doesn’t just end once you cross the finish line. Right now, that private Facebook group for the training class is still alive and kicking. We can still organize runs together if we’d like, separate from Run Wild Missoula.
Now that I’ve gone through the training, I am now a part of a community—and I like it.
You can see why I’m happy to join my fellow runners during next year’s RWM Marathon & Half Marathon Training Class. Will you be joining us?
by Trisha Bartle – RWM Member