Running was tough when I first started up, back when I was a 198-pound 14-year-old.
The physical effort wasn't the real problem, although slogging through a two-mile workout was difficult enough. But the real hangup was mental; it was near impossible for me to muster up the discipline to exercise two days in a row. Working out four times a week was a nonstarter.
But that all changed when I joined the track team. Although I was constantly reminded just how fat and slow I was while my teammates left me behind time after time, I found I fed off their drive. Maybe I would never win, I thought, but I would not let them down by not trying my best.
Group exercise does that. When you're with someone else, there's at least the distraction of talk, which is nice. But it seems that as you run or bike or lift weights or aerobicize or get bendy yoga with others as a team, all of your willpowers work together for everybody.
And no matter how fit you are, it's a virtual guarantee that you'll get fitter with a partner.
In Wausau we've got some new opportunities for group running and biking workouts.
There's the Wausau Area Striders. It's not exactly new, but the group has been flying under the radar for a while. That's because it's not really a group, at least not the kind that you sign up for and pay a fee, and all that. It's an informal group of runners who meet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays at the Wausau East High School track. They do workouts together, often speedy ones, sometimes hill workouts.
Don't let that stop you, though, because the group welcomes all speeds, said Brooke Davis of Wausau, who with her husband, Andy, helps organize things. The track means you can run at your own speed, but not get left behind. You can learn a little more about the Striders at their Facebook page (just search Wausau Area Striders). Or give Brooke a call at 715-212-2977.
Incidentally, the Wausau Area Striders will hold an informal run at noon on Saturday (April 27) from The 400 Block in downtown Wausau. It'll be about 5-kilometers to show solidarity with Boston. It's not a race, and there will be no fee, but participants will be urged to donate to One Fund Boston, an organization formed to help the victims of the bombing. Find out more about that at onefundboston.org.
If running's not your thing, maybe you'll want to head out to Nine Mile County Forest Recreation Area in Rib Mountain. The fledgling mountain bike club, the Central Wisconsin Offroad Cycling Coalition, will begin to hold group rides at 6 p.m. on Thursdays, starting May 31 (weather permitting). The rides will start at the Red Bud Road parking lot.
There will be beginner, moderate and experienced groups with appointed leaders. It will be great way for people to hone their mountain biking skills -- the CWOCC is made up of some of the best, and nicest, riders in the area. Find out more at cwocc.org.
Maybe you don't like dirt. Then you should check out the Wausau Wheelers, the established biking club that focuses on road riding. The club offers a variety of rides Tuesday and Thursday nights, starting at 5:45 and 6 p.m. Like CWOCC, the Wheelers has leaders of groups for various skill levels. For more information, log on to the Wheeler's slick new website: wausauwheelers.org.
Keith Uhligís blog veers toward outdoor silent sports, running, biking, kayaking, etc., but also can be about eating cheese, growing up and living in central Wisconsin and life in general. You can reach Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org.