It's OK if You Jump Around to Different Groups
Find one you feel comfortable with. Enjoy the company of other runners and who will make you stronger.
Blackford adds, "You don't need to focus on only those people who will make you a better runner, but mix it up and look for people who are interesting, fun and may make you a better person."
Manage Your Pace
The best way to find your pace is the "talk test." If you can continue a conversation with others, then your pace is fine. If you find it hard to breathe, then slow down. As you continue to run with others your performance speed will pick up.
Blackford says, "You want to find a pace that you can handle and keep going to complete the distance you are racing...A sprint is do-able, but can you sprint a 5K, a half marathon or longer? Of course not. Find a pace that lets you go as far as the race."
And when you're ready to challenge yourself at your next event, look for a Clif Bar Pace Group to pace with and finish strong. Check out which race Clif Bar Pace Team will be at and find your perfect pace group on the Clif Bar Pace Team website.
Find the Right Accessories
A running watch is a good idea to keep track of your time. "A sports watch is ideal, since you will know how long it has taken you to run from point A to point B," Blackford said, "Then you can compare your time from day to day, week to week, month to month and even year to year... There are many high-tech devices available for tracking pace, heart rate, etc., but in the end it is you against the clock."
If you're looking for a watch that will show your pace and distance, try looking into the Garmin 310XT or the Timex Global Trainer GPS.
It's easy to up your speed and still enjoy your runs. "Don't make running a job or chore," Blackford said, "Make it fun and you will enjoy it for a lifetime."