Anyone can run

By Carol Mack, PT, DPT, SCS, CSCS

You don’t have to be a serious runner to join a running group.

I remember overhearing a conversation shortly after I graduated college where a woman was talking about a workout she did with her running group. Despite the fact that I had just finished playing Division I soccer, my first thought was “Wow, that’s pretty hardcore. No way I’d ever be able to handle a group that meets just to run. They must all be in crazy good shape.”

Years passed, and I began to start running more seriously on my own. 5k’s turned into 10ks, then to 10-mile races and to half marathons. Even with my competitive nature on race day, and some success, I still never thought I’d be able to keep up with a running group. One day, though, I realized how wrong I was.

Part of my duties as an ambassador for a local running shoe store was to help coordinate their group runs. I showed up not knowing what to expect.

I was greeted by 30 smiling people, all warm and welcoming. The run started and I noticed there were people of all different paces and abilities - some running 7-minute miles, some half walking/half running. I slid into the middle pace of the group, found myself in a nice conversation with 3 or 4 people, and before I knew it, we had done 10 miles. Afterwards, everyone hung out at the store talking, making breakfast plans with each other, and high fiving everyone. One said to me, “are you coming to the pub run later this week?”

I couldn’t say no. The runs came with ease due to everyone’s support. Something about the group and the people, all of it drew me back time and time again. Being a physical therapist, some asked me questions about injuries. I was happy to offer advice. Then I got a call asking to be one of the coaches. And after 7 seasons of coaching runners of all ages and speeds, I can offer this advice:

Just show up. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or someone trying to break a 3-hour marathon- everyone is starting at the same point and finishing at the same point. The goal of most running groups in Cleveland is inclusivity and social support. I wish I hadn’t taken so long to figure that out.

Here are some local running groups to look into:

  • Fleet Feet Running Club

  • Second Sole

  • PLX North Running Club

  • Run With the Winners

  • Guardian Runners

About carol mack

Carol Ferkovic Mack, PT, DPT, SCS, CSCS is the owner of CLE Sports PT & Performance in Cleveland, Ohio. Carol graduated from Duquesne University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program in 2006 after playing four years of varsity soccer. She is a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Physical Therapy specializing in end-stage rehabilitation of soccer athletes, female athletes, and runners. Carol is also a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified Coach. She serves as a Physical Therapist for Beaumont School Athletics, and former distance coach for Fleet Feet Sports Cleveland.

Carol recently finished her second term as Chair of the American Academy of Sports Physical Therapy’s Female Athlete Special Interest Group. She now serves as Vice Chair of Educational Programming for the Academy. She is also a member of the US Olympic Committee’s Volunteer Medical Staff.