The RunAsOne Effect

If you are reading this you are either here because you’re thinking about joining RunAsOne or you’re already a part of RunAsOne and you want to devour any content about the group. Both audiences will find value however it is aimed at those on the outside looking in. I was one of those outsiders forever looking at the black, orange, white and even purple RunAsOne branded shirts. They’re bloody everywhere those RunAsOne people. Always smiling. Always running. Bloody Riley and Jacob Cocks are always beating me…That’s how I used to think at least. Now I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid Prepd though, things are different. 
I personally started running ‘seriously’ in the mid 2010’s. I completed a few events, took a hiatus around Covid and then came back to it in 2022. RunAsOne wasn't around when I first took running seriously and I enjoyed training by myself, having autonomy around my sessions and learning from my failures along the way with this process. After my hiatus I continued running like this. Mostly alone, mostly with headphones, mostly pretty content. I began to realise though that the best runners in Australia all train with groups in some capacity. It doesn’t have to be every session but at least once a week runners will join up and train together. As a former team sports player as a kid I knew what this set-up is all about; sacrificing some of your own freedoms (what time the sessions starts, how long it goes for etc.) to gain some benefits of being pushed by others and working towards a common goal like a premiership. Is there a common goal in running though? Isn’t it an individual sport? On the surface it may appear so if you are just running for PB’s and personal satisfaction. A bit deeper under the surface though, if the reason you run is to live a healthy life, to perform to your potential and role model that behaviour for others, then I believe that can be a common goal shared with others as you can demonstrate that within training and races.
With that in mind I started to consider the various training groups in Adelaide. A slight complication is that I currently predominantly live in Quorn so my attendance to sessions could be sporadic at times (hence also not ruling out I could go for a fully online set-up). I wasn’t looking for a coach specifically, I was still happy managing my own training program, I just wanted someone to chase in sessions and stave off boredom in my long runs. 
That’s where RunAsOne came in. 
Having known Jacob Cocks (brother of co-founder Riley) through different events over the years and considering there was a good mix of similar age runners and experience in the group it seemed like a good fit. There’d be plenty of people to chase in sessions and with such a large group I’d always find someone to talk to on long runs. Plus, having the opportunity to bounce ideas off Riley, Izzi Batt-Doyle (co-founder) and other coaches would be good to keep me accountable while hearing their positive feedback once in a while wouldn’t go astray for my own confidence. Everyone likes their ego scratched after all. I did worry initially whether I was selling out to become part of a group, relinquishing control over my running independence and outsourcing my effort to just become a sheep and join the herd. Then I realised that instead of thinking about what I was losing from my running journey by joining the group, I thought about what I could gain and share with others within the group. If you’re all so high and mighty Fraser with your hard work ethic, don’t you think it would be more valuable to share that with others?  Shut up internal monologue, even if you might be right.
At my first few sessions I focused on keeping my head down and following the group, trying not to think about too much big picture stuff. I’d meet at The RunHouse at 6:20am and slot into the group, chasing down a few people in the sessions and feeling more fatigued than I would’ve if I was running alone. And going faster than if I were alone. After a few of these sessions I started getting my bearings about how it all works; the night before post on Facebook with the session details, the warm-ups, the general time allowed between warm-up and start of the session, the toilet options, the style of the sessions, watching out for pedestrians and car traffic etc. etc. As someone who used to only run with people in races or on trails or roads with zero traffic, cooperating with the foot and car traffic at 6:30-8:00 am in and around Victoria Park was a bit of a learning curve. By the end of the first month though I was sorted. It’s kind of funny in that aspect too, four-six weeks of solid training is needed before the actual physiological adaptations from the training start to take effect and so it was for me to feel comfortable within the group and all the processes that occur within it. 
That’s just the sessions though. Add in the long runs too which are a touch more relaxed and jovial. Add in the wear tests and freebies offered by different industry brands looking to appeal directly to their target audience (runners). Add in the post-run chats at The RunHouse. It’s all a pretty good deal right? Yeah, that all sounds lovely like you live in a rainbow sunshine filled world Mr.Kool-Aid Drinker, heck you’re probably paid to say that… but how does it actually translate to the racing? That’s a big reason why you enjoy this sport after all.
Well, having attended a number of road races and a trail race as a member of RunAsOne I can say it translates pretty bloody well. The first race I did was out in Clare where as I ran past other RunAsOne members I didn’t negatively think they’re bloody everywhere, instead it was oh cool, I have no idea who they are but I hope they’re doing well. That was a positive first step. At the Salisbury run a few weeks later it was more of the same but I knew a few more names and faces as I ran past them. Chatting with these other runners afterwards was also a nice way to debrief the race instead of milling around by myself kicking stones with my shoes waiting for the presentations. 
A few weeks after that was the Barossa Marathon, an event where as many as possible in the group were encouraged to sign-up. This time I had a marquee to place my bag under, some people to warm-up with if I wanted to (instead I opted for the solo warm-up to ensure I had total control over my warm-up) and most importantly the feeling that I was representing a club or an idea that was greater than myself. As a mad Essendon fan I believe I would do almost anything if I was representing the red and black at the MCG; back into a contest, put my head over the ball, run through a brick wall etc. Repping the RunAsOne kit in front of a plethora of other training groups at the Barossa isn’t exactly the same as having the ‘Essendon edge’ at the MCG but it’s on the same wavelength. It certainly made a difference as I raced around the half marathon course, keeping an eye out for other RunAsOne members hoping they’d give me a thumbs up or ‘good job’. When they did I was stoked. If they didn’t I thought ‘shit, they must be too cooked or too focused, maybe I should work as hard as them’. The cherry on top at this event was catching up with the other runners I help coach straight after their race to hear how they went and offer feedback to them. Having the positive pressure of knowing I will have to debrief my race to other runners I coach is a great motivator for me to make sure I push myself to the finish line as I hope they do.
These road running events are all a great sample but the real test for me would be a trail running race. I’ve raced more trail events than road events and specifically, the TRSA trail events. These races are where I built confidence with my running in the late 2010’s and really learned to enjoy the process of training and racing. Come race day, I’d rock up by myself, race by myself, collect my trophy by myself and celebrate at home. Last Sunday, I rocked up by myself, set up the marquee, chatted to my teammates, raced by myself, collected my trophy with my teammates and celebrated with them. Like any good science experiment I kept a few variables the same in this process and changed only a couple. The effect? I had a much more enjoyable time and I raced a little harder. 
With that evidence on the table after three months of running with RunAsOne I think it’s clear that it has had a positive effect on my relationship with running. I am excited for the long-term opportunities for me in the future that will come from being with the group (getting faster, more freebies, more support at races etc.) but as a baseline, I’m already very satisfied with my choice to join as a runner and as a coach. If you think I’ve drunk too much Kool-Aid Prepd and been sucked into by the flashy gear and social media content produced by Chris Dellas, then that’s your opinion. But if you want to enjoy running as it leads towards a healthier life and you’re interested in seeing where your potential lies with running, then I think RunAsOne is a great group to try. There’s plenty of Prepd for everyone after all.