Training Groups

September 23, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Austin Running Training Groups

The sheer number of training groups (and the number of coaches) in Austin is astounding. A partial list includes Austin and Round Rock Fit, Gilbert’s Gazelles and the biggest by far, Rogue Training Systems. Also, several of the best running stores in the area such as Luke’s Locker, Hill Country Running and Texas Running Company also offer their own training programs. In addition, there are a few ad hoc groups such as Team Mac (Mac Allen’s group) scattered around the Austin area as well as several personal coaches.

Each group offers a little something different and caters to a  certain running demographic, but the common purpose of all the groups is camaraderie, structured training schedules, speed workouts and hydration support on long runs. Most of the groups are just getting started for the fall semester, but some training groups meet year ‘round and target major events such as the Chicago Marathon, Boston or New York.

One common goal of all the training groups is the Austin Marathon  and or Half. Those training groups are just getting started so there’s still time to join one.

Here’s a runner’s guide at several of most prominent marathon training groups:

Rogue Training Systems: www.roguerunning.com

The largest, most sophisticated and organized of all the Austin-area training groups, Rogue has a wide network of coaches, training locations and different levels of workouts. Rogue, which was started up in 2008 by Ruth England, Steve Sisson and Carolyn Mangold, has grown from a RunTex off-shoot into one of the best training programs around which serves everyone from the pure beginner to advanced marathoners trying to win their age group.

Rogue utilizes more than 30 certified coaches who customize training schedules for 2500 runners enrolled in one of its 50 different programs. For the fall, more than 800 runners will be in one of Rogue’s marathon training programs that are geared for one of the major fall races (Dallas, San Antonio or Houston) as well as  the Austin Marathon or half.

“We offer training programs for every different level of runner,” says Ruth England who heads Rogue. “I think the greatest advantage we have is flexibility in our schedules. Regardless of your schedule, there’s always a group for you. Plus, we have different locations for our training groups. To maintain the quality of our coaching, we also limit each class to 30 runners.”

Rogue has some of the best coaches in Austin, including Warren Brown, Amy Anderson, Chris McClung, Erik Stanley, Phil Carmical, Allison Macsas and Carmen Troncoso.

Even though Rogue offers cycling, trail running and triathlon training, the guts of what it does are the marathon training programs. An early group already began in July, but most of the 24-week marathon training groups begin on September 1st, but some don’t get underway for another week or two. But even if you’re late, you can still register and there’s plenty of time left to get ready for the marathon. Most training groups meet twice a week, but some of the advanced groups meet three times.

Long runs: Saturday or Sunday.
Basic cost: $56 a month (for 24-week marathon training program).
For more info, call Alison Macsas@ 512/493-0920 or email her (allison@roguerunning.com).

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Gilbert’s Gazelles: www.gilbertsgazelles.com

Another RunTex spin-off, Gilbert’s Gazelles is owned, coached and managed by Gilbert Tuhabonye, the charismatic, genocide-surviving, former international runner from Burundi (by way of Abilene Christian). The Gazelles are not the size of Rogue, but fanatical in their devotion to Tuhabonye and his cousin and coach, Bernard Manirakiza who lead most workouts. And for anybody who might be intimidated, Gilbert is one of the most approachable guys around.

“Runners come to me for PRs,” says Tuhabonye. “But everyone is welcome. When you join the Gazelles, we talk about what goals you want to accomplish and then we help you reach them.”

The Gazelles are the most competitive group in Austin and many of the workouts, according to Tuhabonye, are “demanding and spirited but that’s what my runners want”.

Broken into seven different training groups, the Gazelles number about 300 runners, ranging from first-timers to some of the top age-group runners and triathletes in town. The Gazelles have four coaches who write workouts and plan long runs. On the long runs, a different route is used each Saturday and there is Gatorade and water in coolers at announced spots all along the route.

Most Gazelles meet three times a week for group workouts, typically on Monday (hills and pace work), Wednesday (speed and drills) and Saturday (long runs). Other than the early-morning start for Saturday long runs, the groups either meet at 5:45 a.m. or 5:30 p.m. From August-December and January-May, a special group for stay-at-home moms meets Monday and Wednesday mid-mornings or Tuesday and Thursday.

The Gazelles now meet at three different locations for workouts: Circle C or the nearby Arbor Trails, Far West, and a downtown location, usually Texas Running Company at 5th Street, near Lamar.

Training is year-round, but the winter marathon training groups that begin in September lasts for 18-20 weeks.

“We go to races together and always support each other,” says Tuhabonye. “The Gazelles is more like a family than just someplace to train.”

Long runs: Saturdays at 5:45 am.
Basic cost: $30 one month or $150 for six months.
For more info, email Hannah@gilbertsgazelles.

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Galloway Austin: www.runaustingalloway.com

In its eighth year, Galloway Austin is a marathon training program, primarily for the beginner. Designed by famed coach and one-time Olympian Jeff Galloway, his 17-28 week program for San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll began in July, but the Austin Marathon program begins in mid-August with as little as three miles of running which gradually inches up a mile at a time. For the true beginners who are just getting started, the program takes them from zero miles (just walking) to five-mile runs in 10 weeks and then begins marathon training.

There are dozens of Galloway Training groups all over the country and the foundation of each one is the run/walk. That is, every long run is interspersed with regular walk breaks.

“The walk breaks are great for beginners,” says Will Carlson who directs the Galloway program in Austin, “because they allow you to stretch out your longs run and also help you recover quicker.”

The walk breaks vary from runner to runner, but as each runner becomes fitter the walk breaks get shorter and the running goes longer. In the marathon itself, most Galloway runners will run for five minutes, followed by a one-minute walk break.

Galloway Austin has about 200 runners in five different groups and there are 15 coaches. The groups meet just once a week for the long runs, but a weekly schedule is emailed.

“Even though some of the groups started in July,” says Carlson, “you can join us anytime. For more info, call 653-9103 or email Will directly at carlsonwill@prodigy.net.

Long runs: Sunday mornings.
Cost: $159 for new runners; $99 if continuing.

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Twenty-Six Two Marathon Club

One of the fastest growing training groups in town is this “club” which was founded by Paul Carmona in 2004 with just five members. For the first few years, Twenty-Six—a non-profit–was mostly a small group of women, but it has grown to over 100 runners (male and female) and is open to anyone who has run at least one marathon. But, some first-time marathoners are welcome to join.

Marathon training usually lasts for 24 weeks. Training for the Austin Marathon begins on August 31st with are a variety of training groups, targeting different races. The groups usually meet twice a week, once for an evening workout and then either Saturday or Sunday morning for long runs. Carmona, a highly experienced marathoner and Ironman triathlete, is the only coach for Twenty-Six and he is there for almost all workouts.

Long runs: Saturday mornings at 7 am.
Cost: $100 for members; $150 for non-members, plus prepayment of $26.20 club dues. Half-marathon training is free to members and non-members.
Info: Contact Carmona at paulruns@gmail.com.

 

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Austin Runners Club

The oldest running club in town, the ARC has long had its own training groups for the Austin Marathon and Half-Marathon . Training for both races starts up in early August, but anyone can join at any time. And no, you don’t need to be an ARC member to participate. All training programs are free.

The group meet three times a week: Tuesday and Thursday evenings at O Henry Middle School (2610 W. 10th Street) and Saturday mornings at the zero mile marker on Butler Trail (also known as Town Lake Trail) in front of Auditorium Shores for long runs.

Long runs: Saturday and Sunday options.
For info:Contact Coach Al Cumming at alcumming@sbcglobal.net

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Tri Zones Training: www.trizones.com

One of the smaller groups in town, Tri Zones is an outgrowth of a triathlon training program which has expanded to include the marathon and the half. About 50-50 runners meet twice a week at Murchison School (off Far West) in north Austin on Wednesday for marathon training or Small Middle School in south Austin on Tuesday, under the direction of Tracy Nelson.

Now in its 10th year, TriZones is mostly women who like to incorporate a lot of cross-training into their marathon training. “We have plenty of first-time marathoners,” says Nelson, “but before they start marathon training, we like them to be able to do an eight-mile run.”

TriZones training for the marathon or half doesn’t get underway until late September as many of the athletes are still fit from triathlon training. “We’re mostly mid to back-of-the-packers,” says Nelson. “We aren’t quite as hard core as some of the other training groups and we try to emphasize fun and community Our small size allows us to do individual coaching and we focus a lot on technique and cross-training.”

Long runs: Saturday.
Cost: $200.
For info: Contact Tracy Nelson at 512/331-4686.

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Austin and Round Rock Fit: www.Austinfit.com;www.Roundrockfit.com

A member of USA Fit (as is Round Rock Fit), Austin Fit has about 500 runners enrolled in its various programs for either the Austin Marathon or half and Round Rock Fit has another 400. The Austin groups are sponsored by Luke’s Locker which manages all the operational support, including coaching and schedules.

Both Austin and Round Rock groups cater to beginning runners and walkers—although they are not limited to first-timers. Some train to walk the entire marathon.

The Austin Fit training for the marathon and half begin August 17th, culminating with the races on February 16th. The Austin group meets at Luke’s, just off the trail at Lamar, while the Rock Rock group meets at Old Settler’s Park.

Austin Fit has approximately 60 volunteer coaches, including walking  coaches, who work with a variety of training groups. The fee for Austin and Round Rock Fit is $110 for the 26-week training program which includes a training schedule, seminars and two workouts a week. It’s $85 for returning runners.

“We are training runners of all levels,” says Jennifer Harney who heads the Austin Fit coaching programs for Luke’s. “We welcome everyone who wants to train for either the marathon or half and provide everything a runner needs.”

Long runs: Saturday.
Costs: $90.
For Austin Fit: Email Linda Brown (info@austinfit.com). 

For Round Rock Fit: Email Judi Sharp (info@roundrockfit.com).

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Team Mac: http://teammac.co/

Team Mac represents a group of dedicated individuals who train hard to improve as runners and also help and encourage their teammates to run better.   We focus on distance running, with some middle distance training for the 800 and 1500/mile track races.  Many of us will race the marathon (or even an ultra), along with road races and road relays of shorter distances (5K, 10K, etc.).  A few of us will train for triathlons.

The team has a range of abilities in terms of race times and place, yet each of us has shown the same spirit and desire of reaching the top level of performance.  You can check out the website at www.teammac.co or give CoachMac a call at 512.826.4545 or email mac@teammac.co.

 

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ACT Running: http://www.actrunning.com/

ACT Running was formed and is led by Ashley Thompson, a recreational runner turned coach.  She has a background in Recreation and Corporate Team Building, rather than track.  Her coaching philosophy, therefore, leans more towards cultivating an athlete’s love-of-the-sport than getting him/her to the podium.
ACT Running represents those who get left behind at the other programs and grants permission to those returning from a hiatus to re-enter slowly and safely.   The intimate size of the groups permits Coach Ashley to personalize training and allows athletes to advance at their own pace. 
ACT Running’s flagship program is called “Become A Runner,” an 8-week session that uses scheduled walk breaks to gradual increase distance and endurance; perfect for absolute beginners or those returning from a hiatus.  Additional programs include Intermediate 5K, 5 Mile Turkey Trot, Cap 10K, 10 mile and Half-Marathon training.  Most programs offer run/walk training. Currently, ACT Running meets most mornings at Ramsey Neighborhood Park (4301 Rosedale Ave).  New sessions start every 6-8 weeks and ACT Running Club membership is open to any program alumni.
 
For Schedule, go to ACTrunning.com
Long Runs: Saturdays
Basic Cost: $65 -$150 per program
Yearly Club Membership $105
For more information, contact Ashley Thompson at  actrunning@gmail.com or ACTrunning.com

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Ashish Patel

About Ashish Patel

Ashish Patel began swimming at the age of four by taking swim lessons and running at the age of seven by participating in kid runs. He ran cross country and track and swam competitively throughout high school. He then competed in Triathlons while studying at Virginia Tech and the University of Florida. Immediately after completing graduate school in 2008, Ashish took a job and moved to Austin. He currently works at Headspring as an IT Consultant. Since moving to Austin, Ashish primarily trains for marathons and half-marathons, but he also enjoys competing in the occasional triathlon to exercise his passion for swimming and cycling.

3 Comments

  1. Ashish– I would like to post information about out group– Fit on Your Feet. This group is not for elite runners, but is for people who want to work on getting in shape. We meet two weeknights and Saturday morning in Central Austin. Training is for those who want to improve fitness through walking or walking and jogging.

    There is a strong sense of community and support among group members, and no one is ever left behind. Trainers are supportive and experienced with the needs of non-elite athletes that still want to improve fitness, participate in 5Ks or even Half Marathons.

    Best of all, the membership is $120 a year or $10 per month. For more information, contact Connie Berry at 512-585-2395 or Brenda Howell at 512-585-2375.

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  3. The Human Performance Lab at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor is conducting a study for runners. At our lab we conduct various performance testing with all types of athletes, age ranges and fitness levels. Currently in our lab we have a study that is geared towards runners in which with qualification will have access to our performance testing free of charge. One of the tests that will be available to them is our VO2max testing. This performance measure tests your cardiovascular system to determine how well your body can take oxygen in and how well your muscles can use that oxygen. Exercise training can improve your VO 2MAX and any athlete who spends a lot of time running during games/events should aim for a higher VO 2MAX . Knowing how efficient your cardiovascular system is will help you customize your training, know where you weaknesses and strengths lie, and help you improve your performance. This test is performed on a treadmill and takes about 10-15 minutes. If this is an interest to you please contact us and we would be happy to provide you with more detailed information on the study. Thank you for your time and have a great day.

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