Why joining a coached run club might help you nail your running goals

Every year, Brainsport offers coached run academies targeted at a range of distances and experience levels.

Joining a coached run club can be hugely beneficial for athletes — whether they’re training for their first five-kilometre run or hoping to set a new personal best in the marathon after years of training,

Wondering if joining a coached run group is right for you? The Brainsport Times spoke with Brainsport coach Patrick Somerville and some of his coached athletes about some of the benefits of joining such a group.

Pat Somerville, left, stands with two of his coached athletes at the Berlin Marathon.

It can help prevent injuries

Derek Trischuk says he was never a natural runner but started competing in triathlons and needed to figure it out. He started in Brainsport’s learn-to-run program and later joined one of Someville’s coached clinics. Trischuk says that, as a beginner, he appreciated the running education that came with the clinic. He was able to learn about common running injuries and how to avoid them.

Somerville says a big part of helping his athletes avoid injuries is by developing smart training plans that don’t add too much mileage too quickly. Somerville typically has runners work on four-week cycles that involve three weeks of hard work and one easy week, with runners increasing mileage by no more than 10 per cent each week.

“Many athletes do too much too early and risk injury. A well-designed training schedule helps to avoid injury,” Somerville says.

He also walks runners through basic running drills – things like running or marching with high knees and bum kicks – and breaks down each running movement to help athletes learn proper technique. Coached athletes are taught about strength and core exercises that, when incorporated into their training, can help make them stronger and prevent injury.

It provides structure to training

Runner Grant Ferguson joined one of Somerville’s run clinics after years of running and racing on his own.

“I joined because I wasn’t getting results with what I was doing,” Ferguson said. “I ran my first three marathons and I don’t know how many half marathons without any coaching or training partners. It turns out that I had no idea what I was doing.”

Somerville said one of the big things he can help runners with is helping them understand when they need to work hard and, equally as importantly, when they need to take it easy to give their bodies time to recover. Some people don’t know how to structure interval workouts or how hard to go during key workouts – that’s where a coach like Somerville can come in and give guidance.

It encourages athletes to push hard

Few things can be as motivating as chasing the runner in front of you or trying to outrace the approaching footsteps behind you.

Rebecca Goldie joined Somerville’s group because she was new to Saskatoon and looking to meet people.

“I do run a lot on my own, but always prefer to have other people for hard workouts (and long runs) because they push you way harder than you can push yourself,” she said.

It’s a sentiment echoed by many in the group, including Colleen Isley, who started running two years ago and is part of Somerville’s coached run club.

“The group atmosphere pushes me harder than I would push myself. I somehow have the magic ability when I’m running with the group to keep my pace a little quicker than if I was running alone,” she said.

It keeps athletes accountable

Somerville makes training plans for his athletes and they’re expected to run between weekly group workouts.

This knowledge is a great motivator for runner Lisa Pasishnik.

“I find it inspiring to train with a group of people all trying to improve,” she said. “Running with a group make the hard runs easier and it keeps me accountable to my training.”

Grant Ferguson agrees. “Running with a group definitely makes it harder to skip a run,” he says.

It’s a great way to make friends

Runner Jack Roberts ran on his own for a couple of years, then joined Somerville’s coached run club so he could run with a group.

“The friendships that are developed is the best part for me. Where else can you put 35 people in a room and have no drama and everyone is cheering for each other. It is special,” he said.

Lisa Pasishnik agrees.

“It is really nice to meet people from all different walks of life who share a common interest in running,” she said.

Patrick Somerville is a long-time coach with Brainsport who is trying to run all the World Major Marathons (he’s crossing the Virgin Money London Marathon off his list this spring when he runs that race in a charity spot to raise money for The Bereavement Trust). His 18-week marathon and half-marathon running academy course starts Jan. 27 and runs Monday evenings until the Saskatchewan Marathon.