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.
Peace. Love. Train.