Can I Keep Up With You?
People often send emails to me or to one of the Discussion Groups, basically asking "How fast do you run? Can I keep up with you?" There's no one answer to that. It depends on the run. Of course, you don't want to show up to a run that's out of your league, either too fast, or too slow. Unfortunately, this leads some people to wait way too long before showing up for a group run. So here's a little guide to the pace range for the various groups. But if you have a question, particularly about a group run, don't be afraid to ask! Just post a note to the appropriate Discussion Group.
Beginners: There are two groups in the Club very open to beginner runners, the Wahoo Beginners Group and the Bellefonte Road Raiders. Both groups are very welcoming to runners of all abilities. Both groups have fairly regular group runs, and often organize runs outside the regular times via their associated email Discussion Groups. The pace on the group runs tends to be in the 10 minute/mile range for the Bellefonte runs, 11-12 min/mile (or slower) for the Beginner runs. The mileage is usually 2-4 miles, but sometimes longer. Often the longer runs are organized so that the group runs one route of 2 miles with the absolute beginners, then adds on afterward.
Lunch Time Runs: The Rec Hall Regulars have the widest range of running abilities and pace. They're basically all the Club Regulars above "beginner" pace. The lunch time runs meet at Rec Hall in the warm-up area on the first floor beside the Main Gym and leave at 12:10 for their runs. The group can be anywhere from 3 to 12 or more runners. Because these runs tend to have the biggest range of talent, they often break up into smaller groups doing different paces and mileage. The slowest runners might run 4-6 miles at a sub-9 minute/mile pace. The fastest runners might start out with the group, but then pick up the pace and add on miles, sometimes doing 6 or more miles, with parts of it at a 7 min/mile pace. The group is very welcoming. "Graduating" beginners will often tag along, even if they can't keep up the whole time. It's a great way to meet runners and learn some running routes.
Despite its imposing sounding name, the Thursday Track Crew is even more open to runners of all talent, even beginners. Same deal as the Rec Hall runs. Meet at Rec Hall, leave at 12:10, jog to the Penn State Track, and do a workout. Or meet the Crew at the track at about 12:25. It's a big group (15-30 runners on any given Thursday), and you can do the workout at any pace or intensity you're ready for.
Weekend Group Runs: The Bellefonte Road Raiders and the Wahoo Beginners often have weekend group runs, usually at the pace and intensity mentioned above. The other weekend group runs organized within the Club can be a bit faster and longer than these (though slower than the Rec Hall runs). The runs can be anwhere from 6 to 12 miles, or more, particularly if somebody is training for a marathon. The pace often depends on who organizes it and what the intent of the run is. It's is usually in the 8-10 minute mile range, though it can be faster for a marathon training pace workout, or slower for Rothrock Forest or Game Lands runs (see below). These runs are announced on the Group Runs web page, are put out via email to the NVRC Discussion Group, and placed on the Club Calendar. The organizer usually mentions mileage and intended pace. If you have any questions, don't be afraid to post them to the Discussion Group!
- Rothrock (Tussey) Runs: If you see an Group Run in Rothrock State Forest posted, or if it mentions the Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK in the run description, be prepared for a bit of a challenge, though one well worth your effort. The Rothrock runs are generally run on the macadam or gravel roads in the mountains just outside of town. The runs in Rothrock are usually long (8-18 miles), and the pace is moderate (8:30-10 min/mile). But it's slower than the daily Rec Hall runs mostly because of the challenging hills (some 1000 ft climbs). Occasionally, a runner will post a run on one of the even more challenging trails in Rothrock.
Other: The Ladies' Early Morning Runs are, as the name suggests, for ladies. It's a great group of gals (I ran with them once in disguise). The pace is relaxed, but not a beginners pace: about 9 minutes a mile.