Ponytail Mafia

I’m extremely lucky to be part of a pack of fast girls here in Burlington, to whom I owe most of this training cycle’s success. While we had all run together individually over the last year, we finally got organized in February and started doing our long runs together on Saturday mornings and some key workouts during week. On Saturday, we gather somewhere early and head off for a couple of hours of running during which time the rules are simple: no talk about running and as much story telling as humanly possible.

You’ll hear us coming from a mile away, laughing and talking rapidly about whatever has transpired in the past week. We talk about husbands and boyfriends, about work and family and sometimes, we just fantasize about whatever food (or wine) we’re consuming later in the day. We run faster in the group than we ever train alone, pulled along by one another. Sometimes we look like we came out of the same store in matching crops, ponytails and cheap gloves for warm hands.

Running with the “girls” has changed this training cycle for me. We’ve done tons of quality miles together and on race morning, we’ll set out for the marathon like we’ve set out for so many long runs. We’ll talk less (if at all), but we’ll still be in it together. They know what to say to me when I get flustered or upset and I know where to help push them when they get tired or discouraged.

Runner’s World had an interesting article on running with a group recently, with which I didn’t entirely agree. Although we try to stay together during regular runs, when we’re doing uptempo segments, there’s no rule about staying together. On Saturday, for example, Abbey felt better at a faster pace and Christine wanted to do an extra mile of uptempo. I pulled back at 15 to cool down and had zero expectation that they would do the same. We all reconnected to stretch. Similarly, on the Sunday run, we all start and end together, but there’s no expectation that everyone has to stay together. In my opinion, you can be part of a group without being glued to one another.

Do you run with a group? What do you love or loathe about running with a group?

Join the Conversation!