What started as a small group of people looking for a group to run with has turned into an organization of 100 runners of all experience levels training together for marathons and half marathons across the Valley.
The Foothills Running Club started in 2005. Jeff Bloom, one of the trainers for the group, said at Foothills Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy, where he works, they had been noticing a lot of injuries from running and some poor training programs. They decided to sponsor their own running group and offer some training so that those running could have the guidance they needed to meet their goals.
The group started with 30 to 40 runners and now has more than 100 runners training together during the peak training season from August to January, and about 40 runners during the summer.
Bloom said what’s unique about the Foothills Running Club is the ability to train runners of all experience levels. Those who are experienced are pushed further and held accountable by the group while those who have never run before can get started safely.
Brent Harris, an Ahwatukee Foothills resident, said he had never been a runner or jogger but with just under a year of training with the group he was able to finish his first half marathon.
“Our first run was a 3-mile run around a neighborhood in Ahwatukee,” Harris said. “I thought I was going to die. My knees hurt before we even got out of the parking lot. I was thinking there’s no way I’ll be able to do this. I got over that and our mileage increased week by week… Eventually, you just build up your mileage until the half marathon. I had no idea what my time would be or what to expect my time to be, but I did it. If I had to do one thing differently I would have started this a long time ago.”
Harris said while there are many experienced runners in the group the trainers, Bloom and Lori Francoeur, do a good job of keeping the atmosphere unintimidating for newer members.
“I was more intimidated by physically what I was going to be able to do,” he said. “I didn’t know if my heart, lungs and muscles would be able to handle it, but they know what they’re doing. The coaches assess your ability and plan a course accordingly.”
The group receives email alerts with meeting times twice a week. There’s usually a Saturday morning run and a run on the track at Desert Vista High School on Tuesday nights. During the peak season the cost is $175 to join the group and includes a once-a-week fitness class at FAST, a T-shirt, and more structured training. During the summer the group is free to join. The organization is broken up into half marathon beginners, experienced and marathon beginners, or experienced. To join or to get more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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