Monday, February 22, 2010

A brief history of FAST

So what is this FAST thing I'm always talking about? Well, in short, it's a running group. But that really doesn't do it justice. It's so much more than just a group of people who run together. Those of you who are a part of FAST know what I'm talking about (and feel free to post comments here about what FAST has done for you!).

First, a little history. FAST stands for Fun And Smart Training. The group is a program offered by the Peoria Area Track & Field Club. Despite the acronym, it really has nothing to do with being fast (although I believe many participants have become faster runners as a result of FAST). A direct quote from the website:

"FAST will be a program for you as an individual. Through tailored personalized programs based on your mileage, your abilities, and your goals, FAST, is designed to work with you to become the athlete you want to be. FAST does not care if you run a 4:00 minute mile or a 10 minute mile! This program is for YOU to achieve your personal goals!"

That pretty much sums it up in a nutshell. We have two coaches who provide individualized training schedules and instruction to help us reach our goals. Some people are training for 5ks, some for marathons, and everything in between. In the winter season, FAST meets as a group once a week at an indoor track. The workout is usually some type of speedwork, whether it's fartleks (or "fartskis", as my mom likes to call them), or 400m repeats, or 1 mile repeats, or a 3-mile time trial. And following the run is some sort of core routine, involving various forms of crunches and planks. Every week is something different, which keeps things fresh and reduces the boredom of running around in circles. We are not there to race each other (although I know I have used faster runners as "targets" to try to catch up to, or hang with, even if only for a short while). It's never a competition, except to compete with yourself, as you strive to become a better runner than you were a week ago, a month ago, or a year ago.

As a group, we support and encourage each other. I have never been a part of a group that gives as many high fives, and "good job"s and other words of encouragement. We may not run together in the literal sense, because we all run at different paces, but we always run together. We are friends and comrades. Faster runners will wait around for the slower runners (like me) to finish. More experienced runners will offer advice and tips to newer runners. We swap race stories, talk about past mistakes and triumphs, empathize with each other over injuries, and talk excitedly about our future running plans. After our runs, many of us go out for dinner together, where we take great pride in stinking up entire restaurants with our sweatiness, and ordering large volumes of water.

And I can't forget our fabulous coaches, Brad and Bekah. They rock! They push us farther than we think we can go, but never past our breaking points. They know exactly what to say to get just a little more effort out of us. They have led many of the members of FAST to PR's (including me), but they never claim that our victories were their doing. They are, in short, very very good at what they do. And we are very fortunate to have their leadership and wisdom.

So as you can now see, FAST is far more than a running group. FAST is a team.

Summer FAST 2009, at one of our track meets.

Peace. Love. Train.


  1. Well said Emily. Thank you for your accolades and positive words. You are a cornerstone in the program and I can speak for Bekah when we say, that we thank you tremendously for being a part of FAST!

  2. Emily --
    Thanks for posting! Friends that are "non-runners" don't understand the instant friendship or connection runners seem to find.
    I'm so glad I emailed Running Central and was told about FAST and joined -- I was VERY nervous inside the 1st night there -- but soon learned everyone there was a warm, welcoming spirit, and encouragers to EVERYONE in every sense of that word! You did AWESOME explaining this and plan to share it with others so the "get it" and understand what I'm talkin about!

  3. When I first heard about F.A.S.T was from my son, he told me that his class mate from grade school and high school that he ran cross country with is starting this program, that I should join since I have not improved my running time for a long time. I email Brad and asked him if I was too old or too slow to join his group. Well, at first I feel odd to have my son's friend to be my coach, and being the oldest runner in the group. Brad was so great and make all of us so pump about our training, in no time I respect him as he was just my coach. I told Brad about my goal the first night, with each week's training, he always remind me that I can meet my goal, I don't think he ever let me take my eye off my goal. the training was intense, speed work, hill repeat, I have never have this kind of training before, but I look forward to go every week, there were fun time too, and many funny stories. After twelve years of running and nine marathons, on October 10 in Chicago Marathon, I finally set my P.R. Thanks for Coach Brad and F.A.S.T.and all of my F.A.S.T friend's encourage words, I can't wait until spring session, I already have a new goal for 2010