Striders Club runs alongside Bearathon trainees

By Amanda Hayes

With the Bearathon race approaching March 21, Waco Striders Running Club President Don Hinds said the group welcomes Baylor students to train with them.

“If you’ve never run 13 miles, it can be a daunting task,” Hinds said. “We have lots of people with experience who can help out new runners.”

Runners generally need at least six weeks to train for a half marathon, Hinds said. That six weeks begins this Saturday.

The Striders, a city running club, meet for group runs at 6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, and Saturdays at various times. The Monday runs begin at Whitehill Park in Woodway, and Wednesday runs begin at Indian Spring Park in Waco. Monday runs are typically five kilometers, Wednesday runs are four miles, and Saturdays are longer run days. Hinds said the mileage depends on the event they are training for.

According to Dr. Cindra Kamphoff, a sports psychology consultant at Your Runner’s Edge, running with a group creates positive peer pressure on a subconscious level because of the concept called “social facilitation.”

Social facilitation is the tendency for people to do better on simple tasks when in the presence of other people.

“It allows you to challenge yourself, because you can run with faster runners and try to improve,” Hinds said.

The Striders membership fee is $20, which goes toward supporting the club’s programs and acts as a 10 percent discount on running gear at Bicycle World. Hinds said, however, that there is no pressure to join the first time.

“We know college kids are busy and got to study,” Hinds said. “Anytime you can spare a couple hours, take us for a test drive.”

Edmond, Okla., senior Martha Blaess has run the Bearathon the past two years and is training for the third with her roommate.

“It’s easier to run with someone because we get to have conversations and grow closer as friends,” Blaess said. “We also push each other. I wouldn’t run as fast by myself.”

Blaess said the hardest part of the half marathon is the hills. To prepare for the Bearathon’s difficult route, Hinds said the Waco Striders Running Club runs in Cameron Park between Redwood Shelter and Lover’s Leap.

“There is also safety involved. People are out there with you,” Hinds said. “We look out for each other.”

The accountability is also helpful, Hinds said, because people expect you to be there and will encourage you to come each week.

If a potential member is hesitant to join, Hinds said not to be concerned. The Waco Striders is composed of a variety of ages and fitness levels. Some people do a running and walking combination, Hinds said, while others run five- to six-minute miles.

“The group dynamic is terrific,” Hinds said. “It’s my second family out there.”

The 2015 Bearathon includes a half marathon and 5k. The race is Student Foundation’s main fundraising event for student scholarships.