How I Learned to Love Group Runs

TORONTO. January 23, 2014. Running was always a “maybe later” thing for Digital Champion Danielle O’Hanley. She finally signed up for her first Running Room clinic in August 2012 and has been running ever since. After a jam-packed 2013 — which included ten races — she recently completed her first 42.2km at the Chicago Marathon. She runs in the west end of Toronto, where the parks are abundant (and so are the hills!). She is looking forward to racing down Yonge at the TYS10K, where she hopes to break the 50-minute mark. Connect with Danielle on Twitter @dohanley.

How I Learned to Love Group Runs. By Danielle O’Hanley.

Let me be honest: I have never been interested in exercising with or around other people. I hate team sports. I never enjoyed exercise classes. Until recently, what little exercise I did get consisted of swimming (lap after lap of just me and my thoughts) and hot yoga (again, just me and a big silent room). So, when I was thinking about starting to run last summer and someone suggested I join a running clinic, I just blinked and stared.

Not for me. Danielle TYS10K 2013 Group

Except, it turns out it was. The first night of my local Running Room‘s 10K clinic, I was struggling my way through a 3K run around the upper loop of High Park. Trailing near the back, I was cursing under my breath and wondering what I had gotten myself into. I stopped at the intersection at Bloor, waiting for the lights to change, and caught up with another woman. As the light turned green, we set off together. We started talking, and she shared that she’d done the same clinic the year previous, had run a half marathon in the spring, and was easing her way back into it after an injury. I talked about what my goals were (working my way up to a run in Disney with my family), and the next thing I knew, we were back at the store.

I had survived my first run.

What followed was week after week of triumphs. Running for ten minutes straight. Making it all the way up the Spring Road hill in High Park without stopping. I got to know the other people in my pace group; the woman from the first night, a woman who had recently quit smoking, and another woman, like me, who just wanted to get a bit more active. We spent our hill training nights commiserating over the length of the inclines, and our long runs sharing any and every story or clever anecdote that came to mind.

A year later, I keep thinking back to that first night and I have a hard time remembering who that person was. I now look forward to my clinic night each week. There’s a small group of us who eventually progressed to the half marathon, then marathon clinic, and we’re now training for our second marathons. They give me the push I need to move up a pace group when I’m feeling lazy or to run the extra few yards at the end of the run.

Between them and the great people in the Toronto running community who are tweeting, blogging, and Instagraming their progress online using hashtag #TYS10K, it’s hard not to feel inspired to run through the heart of the city with them all on Sunday April 13th.

The official Toronto Yonge Street 10K Running Room training clinics start the week of February 10th. You’ll get a training schedule, a new group of friends, and a great shirt to run in. Keep an eye on the training page on the TYS10K website for more details. Good luck with your training!

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