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MailTribune.com
  • Social fitness

    Running partners are just a click away in the Rogue Valley
  • Many New Year's resolutions begin to lose steam about now, especially those that require exercise. Whether it's aimed at losing weight or getting ripped, exercise can be difficult if you're going at it alone.
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    • IF YOU RUN
      To connect with the local meetup.com running group, see www.meetup.com/SORGroup.
      Join Southern Oregon Runners online at www.sorunners.org/pages/application.shtml
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      IF YOU RUN
      To connect with the local meetup.com running group, see www.meetup.com/SORGroup.

      Join Southern Oregon Runners online at www.sorunners.org/pages/application.shtml
  • Many New Year's resolutions begin to lose steam about now, especially those that require exercise. Whether it's aimed at losing weight or getting ripped, exercise can be difficult if you're going at it alone.
    If running is your road to fitness, you're in luck if you live in the Rogue Valley, especially if you're willing to network via social media.
    "I was involved in a meetup.com group in Seattle," says Nathan Olson, a recent Medford transplant. "We had about 900 people. It feeds on itself."
    Meetup.com is a general purpose Internet site where people with common interests can link up.
    "So when I moved to Medford, the first thing I did was look for a group here, and I ended up starting a Southern Oregon running group (on meetup.com)," Olson explains.
    On the group's inaugural run last Sunday, nine women and men showed up. Several more runs have subsequently been scheduled.
    After you create an account, says Olson, "you RSVP so you know how many people will be at the run. It makes you more accountable to your friends."
    Olson started running regularly a year-and-a-half ago as a way to get back into shape and lose 20 pounds after a forced convalescence following back surgery. He credits his online promises with helping him meet his goals.
    Facebook has served as a way to organize group runs for the region's largest running group, Southern Oregon Runners. The SOR page currently has 358 members.
    "Someone will post, 'Hey, I'm going, anyone want to join me?' " says Chuck Whiteley, the club's past president. "A lot of people have runner friends on Facebook and post on their own walls, as well."
    Sometimes a particular time and location will stick.
    "Now we have regular Sunday afternoon runs, even throughout the winter," says Whiteley. "We meet on Sundays at 3 p.m. at the upper parking lot at Britt (in Jacksonville) and run on the trails."
    Southern Oregon Runners also hosts a Wednesday evening track workout for those hoping to improve their race times. The club hosts 15 races per year (see calendar at www.sorunners.org). Between five and 20 runners show up weekly at the Phoenix High School track at 6 p.m. throughout the year. Stadium lights are turned on in the winter.
    Another long-term but less formal running group was started by Medford gastroenterologist Peter Adesman. This group meets each Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday in front of Superior Athletic Club on Barnett Road in Medford.
    "In '91, I started running with a friend," Adesman recalls. "And it grew from there. We're always recruiting. We have 100 names on our email list and send out a weekly message about the runs."
    According to Adesman, between five and 15 runners show up each day. On Tuesdays they start at 5:30 a.m. and on Thursdays at 6 a.m.
    "We're not an intimidating group," Adesman says. "We even celebrated some birthdays after the weekend runs. It's gone beyond the running to the social. We're even getting together to watch the Olympic Trials Marathon (on TV)."
    Superior will begin its 6th annual "Prepare for the Pear" beginners' training program on Saturday mornings at the club for six consecutive weeks to help members prepare for the Pear Blossom 10-mile run in April.
    If you live in the Grants Pass area and are an early riser, a group meets weekdays at 5:30 a.m. at Dutch Brothers at the corner of 6th & D streets, and at various locations at 8 a.m. Saturdays.
    "Everyone breaks off into different groups according to their fitness ability," says group co-leader Stan Goodell. "We're always looking for new people."
    Goodell is the long-time cross-country coach for Hidden Valley High School in Murphy. The morning group gives him the opportunity to mentor adults in his favorite sport.
    "The pace isn't blistering," Goodell explains. "It's more about spending time on the road and having someone to run with."
    Getting up to run on a cold winter day is far easier when you're looking forward to running with friends.
    If trails or evening runs are more your speed, Rogue Valley Runners, the Ashland running store, hosts two weekly group trail runs, both starting at 5:30 p.m. in front of the store on Main Street. The Wednesday night runs are co-ed, and Thursday is for women only.
    "A lot of us use headlamps, especially in winter," says Des Barnes, leader of the women's group. The runs attract from three to 12 women, and in the winter some road running is mixed in for easier footing.
    "Running is part of our lives," says Barnes. "We encourage and inspire each other. It helps some us take the steps to do races. It's nice to run with other ladies at night."
    Group running has provided motivation for Melissa Candy to meet her 2011 New Year's resolution. In one year, the Medford massage therapist has run 300 miles, competed in 11 races and lost 20 pounds.
    "I've made closer friends through running," says Candy. "I'm 32 years old and I'm in the best shape of my life."
    Daniel Newberry is a freelance writer living in the Applegate Valley. Reach him at dnewberry@jeffnet.org.
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