Marathon-Training Groups for Runners
It wasn’t long ago when marathons were reserved for ultra-athletes, an elite group of runners who trained and ran the grueling 26.2 miles on a solo mission to beat their personal best and place high in their age group. But today, even former couch potatoes are heading to the trails and treadmills, and many are raising money for a favorite cause while preparing for this serious running challenge.
The concept is simple—get together with a group of like-minded runners, and train together while raising money for a good cause. The opportunity to run an out-of-town race is an added bonus if you’re looking to travel. Team in Training was the first of its kind to bring together the elements of running, fundraising and travel to create a marathon-training program.
Earlier training programs, created by pros like Hal Higdon and Jeff Galloway, were created for serious runners looking to prepare for races and to improve their time. But today, marathon-training programs are fueling the running industry, and helping some worthy causes along the way. “A marathon was not on the radar for a novice runner 15 to 20 years ago, but they have become a pipeline for this second running boom which is catered to the mainstream runner,” says Running USA Media Director Ryan Lamppa of what he describes as the “marathon mania” that has gripped the country. “The first running boom was a solitary runner out there, now the second boom brings people together to train as a team.”
Training groups provide basic coaching and training tips in the months leading up to the race, with weekly group runs and plenty of motivation and positive affirmation along the way. On race day, the coaches are there to keep spirits high and runners safe and healthy. In return, racers pledge to raise a set amount of money for the charity, with minimums based on the race and location. Runners may receive perks for reaching fundraising goals, including hotel accommodations and running gear.
While adding miles to weekly runs to reach the marathon length of 26.2 is daunting to some runners, the prospect of asking friends, family and coworkers for cash may seem downright terrifying. But the good news is that even in this bad economy, people are still willing to give. In 2010, the New York Marathon aimed to raise $26 million, a million for every mile. According to Running USA, they surpassed that goal to raise $28 million for charity.
“These training programs are a pipeline for bringing in new runners,” says Lamppa.
And they have also become a pipeline for tourists in some marathon cities. “Races have become events—families make it a long weekend with spouses and children,” says Lamppa. “These marathoners have the money to spend to travel across the country. They’ll do the event and then check out the city and its restaurants and museums.” This means big money for marathon cities and a chance to woo runners to become repeat guests after the race is over.
Lace up your running shoes and brush up on your fundraising skills, and prepare to explore new cities from the start to the finish line with these marathon-training groups.