Over the course of the summer/fall I participated in Fleet Feet Summerville’s half marathon training program. It’s no surprise to anyone that I love my Fleet Feet, besides their amazing advice they also put on some of the most fun pub runs, free group runs, and host some of the best races in Charleston. Anytime someone comes to me for advice on shoes or running related endeavors, I always point them in the direction of Fleet Feet ( and usually my girl Anni Tuten)
The people who work there are not just some sales person, they are runners just like you and I, they are out at the same races we are, they have running related goals, and most importantly, they are a part of this community. They can give you solid advice from both their experiences and their expertise. Anytime I come to Fleet Feet with questions, everyone is always there to try and help me figure out my problems or the best solutions and they don’t judge. Seriously, I’ve gone in probably 3-4 times and shown them my disguesting gross feet full of black toenails and bloody blisters, and none of them have blinked an eye. Not only that, the team at Fleet Feet will follow up with you to make sure everything is working out well. If a pair of shoes just aren’t working for you after a few runs, they will gladly take them back and help you find the right pair. If you want to test out some items before you purchase, stop into the store and try them, it’s highly encouraged! I can’t stress enough the high level of customer service you’ll receive from Chris, Amy, and their entire team.
When I had the opportunity to participate in the half marathon training program, I couldn’t turn it down. The program lasts 12 weeks and includes 2 weekly workouts with the group. Starting on Sunday you get an email from your awesome coach with what you should be doing for the entire week. You will also be part of a facebook group online that offers support, encouragement, and a place that you can ask your coach any questions you may have. As well as having our Coach, Sandy, we also have a team of mentors who are there to push us, encourage us, and accompany us on long runs based on our paces. I was really excited to have Josh as my mentor on my long runs so that I could pick his brain about all things around the marathon.
The group meets every Wednesday & Saturday at the store for workouts. Wednesday workouts include some form of speed work, drills, or class. For example, we may have a 20 minute session where we learn all about nutrition and hydration, as well as their effects on our running. Then we would do a workout that includes going to the track, hill repeats at the bridge, or some other fun kind of torture our awesome coach Sandy would have us do. Saturdays were our long run days and I loved getting to explore new areas in Summerville for running. Sandy would break us up into groups with our mentors and those of us who were similar paced. Each week our Saturday long runs would increase in length and we were given the opportunity to try new products. We would all meet at the store to do some core work before heading outside for drills. Then we would all take off for our long runs and meet back at the store for some stretching. Fleet Feet is also awesome in the fact that they have tons of things you can try before committing to a purchase. Looking at a new hydration belt? Try one on for a long run and see how you like it. Need some fuel? Try out a Gu on this run before buying a box of them. They really are there to help you get the most out of your training.
Now I didn’t follow the Fleet Feet training plan to a T because my marathon training coincided with my half marathon training. I’ve also done a few half marathons in the past. You might ask why I bothered to sign up for the training when I’ve already completed a few half marathons before. Well, it doesn’t get much better than this. I had a coach and Fleet Feet employees at my finger tips to offer advice and help. I got to make a bunch of new friends, explore new areas to run, and most importantly I had so much fun! Nothing will make you run faster up a garage for hill work than Coach Sandy and 30 other peers cheering you on! We did so many fun new things that I had never done before and working out in a group will absolutely hold you more accountable than doing workouts alone. I was able to pick my mentors brain about marathons since Josh had done some before, I was able to try out new fuel, and I learned some different speed work options that I can use for the future. The facebook group is one piece I really did love. I got to watch so many people succeed in their runs, I got cheered on for my runs by people I had just met, and I got to feel the rush of watching others succeed and see their proudest moments. Now I get to watch them all complete these half marathons and I feel such pride to be a part of all of their journeys.
This was some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Coach Sandy made sure that our workouts were fun and challenging. Some nights we even joined in the pub run that Fleet Feet was hosting which meant we got to try new shoes, play games after the run, and have a cold beer to celebrate! No two weeks were exactly the same and I think that is incredibly important when you are training for such a long distance. Repitition can become boring and that is when people lose the luster to continue on with their training.
The training programs don’t require you to be a newbie in order to do them. I promise that even if you have been running for years, like myself, you can gain a lot from these programs. I’ve got 3 half marathons under my belt and I still gained so much knowledge and friendships from participating in Fleet Feets program. Some people need a group to run with so that they stay accountable, some people need to spend money on a program in order to force them to do the workouts, and some people just enjoy having a peppy coach who will push them to see what they are made of. I was lucky enough to have all of that occur during my training session with Fleet Feet.
Fleet Feet usually hosts an information session when a training program is about to start. Go to their website here and check out when the next session is available. Both Mount Pleasant and Summerville stores offer a 5k, 10k, and half marathon training program with goal races for each one. If anyone has any questions about what the program was like, feel free to ask!
Running friends + running fun = Success!
This Saturday I get to complete my training with the Rock N Roll Savannah Half Marathon and I hope I make Sandy and all my peers proud.