Sweaty Pursuits, Fun Times and Running Buddies

Are you guilty of wearing your running clothes all around campus? Do you have odd tan lines? Are you spending too much of your income on food? You may be suffering from “running-itis.” Do not worry. We have the solution. Join our newest RecSports' Sport Club!

Earlier this month, the RecSports Sport Clubs’ family welcomed its 44th Sport Club, the Florida Running Club. The club was established in the fall of 2011 for male and female runners who were not part of the varsity team. The club became a UF Student Organization last year before filing out a Sport Clubs proposal.

We sat down with Zach Hoge, one of three coaches of the Florida Running Club, and chatted about the running club, its members, sweat and fun.  Zach is currently a junior and has an extensive background in cross-country and track running, experience he acquired over the past six years from running competitively.

The original running group was started a few years ago by a Ph.D. student in Sport Management and another fellow runner. While being on the UF Track and Cross-Country Varsity Team was not in their futures, they still wanted to keep training and competing. So they started a little side running group and realized quickly that other gals and guys were in the same spot – they wanted to be part of a team, have a coach; the group gave them the opportunity to do so. The group became popular and there was a clear niche of students wanting to grow as a student-run organization. What started as a group of eight people is now a group of 25 active members and counting.

While members are a big part of the team, let’s not forget the people who work behind the scenes. The club currently has three coaches, one for long distance runners, one for sprinters and another one for mid-distance runners. Practices are offered six days a week, Monday through Saturday. The club uses a calendar to schedule their training sessions to accommodate the greater number of members. The typical daily schedule includes flexible morning and afternoon options.

But there is no glory without racing. The club has several fun team events already scheduled for the spring semester. Since the spring season is more track-focused, there will be a couple track meets where the highlight will be on events like 400 meters, hurdles or steeplechase. Shorter distance races and a few longer distance options will be available every now and then, too. What started out as a simple running group has now expanded into a multifaceted club that incorporates different events and distances to meet everyone’s needs.

With that said, the Florida Running Club welcomes all abilities, from beginners to advanced competitors. They have various pace groups (different speeds), distances, running backgrounds and fitness levels, which make things a lot more interesting and really reinforces the bonds between the team members. Coaches are guiding the runners through specific workouts and work with the runners toward helping them reach their goals and fitness levels.  The only requirements are having fun (and wear sweaty clothes) and bringing your biggest smile.

The Florida Running Club may have only been around for a year but the group members have passionate and welcoming personalities, which really make the group a tight community. Running has been a big part of their lives since high school. They all have a lot in common and the camaraderie is something unique to the sport.

Beginners are welcome to come out any day, but Zach suggests they should come out on a Tuesday, Wednesday and/or Friday evening, as they are the easy run days. These days also have the most people attending and are the most beginner-friendly practices. A full schedule of practice times and races is available on the club’s Facebook page and on their website.

Not convinced yet? Zach told us the trip’s story of seven team members to Nationals last fall. The six guys and one girl made the 28-hour car drive to and back the 2012 National Cross-Country National Championships in Hershey, Penn., last November. Needless to say they got to know one another real well! “The team travels many miles not just on foot, but on the road too,” said Zach. The National Championship was the toughest race they participated in; the hills were unforgiving and temperatures in the 30s’ made it even rougher but they were glad to have made the trip! It was all about the team spirit and adventure!

Before ending our meeting, Zach gave some great tips for all runners out there:

  • Be consistent in your training,
  • Don’t push yourself too hard, know your limits,
  • Train with others; it makes workouts seem easier
  • Don’t get frustrated. Keep pushing, because running requires some investment, and it is better to progress safely and stay injury-free.

Join in the fun, check out the Florida Running Club and give it a shot!

For more information, check out the Florida Running Club’s website, Facebook page, or email Zach at gatorrunner72@ufl.edu.


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