I've been thinking about joining a team for a long time. There are literally dozens on running teams in the New York running scene and they definitely make up a large portion of folks at any given NYRR race. It was really difficult when I was in school to commit to any sort of team schedule since my hours tend to be all over the place, but now my schedule tends to be a little more regular.
On Saturday I tried my first run with a team, the Dashing Whippets.They're a relatively new club but I've heard some really positive things about them so I figured I would try joining them for their Saturday morning long run. By running to the meeting point (72nd St and Central Park West) I was able to get in the couple extra miles I needed since they were going to be doing 15 and I had 17 scheduled.
If there was ever a perfect day to run with a group, Saturday was it! It was cold, snowing and gray and not the kind of day where you want to do a 2+ hour run outside. When I showed up, though, there was a pretty good turnout of other runners. With folks running several different paces, I was able to find a couple of guys looking for more of a 7:30 pace.
During the run, along course specially designed to celebrate the birthday of one of the team members, I chatted with two other runners and learned more about the team. They seem like really great folks and I'm pretty sure I want to sign up to run with them. Perhaps the biggest upside to all this talking, however, was how it distracted me from how fast I was running. During our final lap of Central Park we had some sub-7 miles and at the end I even tacked on an extra lower loop with one of the guys (bringing my total mileage to over 19 for the day). My average pace was just over 7 minutes, much faster than if I had gone it along, and much more pleasant too.
How about you? Do you run with a team? What are some of the benefits you see?