Runners of all speeds, distances and ages are welcome at Fleet Feet's free running group, the Huffers and Puffers. Accommodating and active, the crowd can grow as large as 40 people on any given meet-up.
"The point of the group is just to have people to run with and to be social," said owner Debbie Falls, who is currently coaching an advanced 5K class.
The group was created in 1996 by chiropractor Wayne Coleman. Coleman wanted to bring runners together in a setting that placed less importance on speed and instead encouraged positive attitudes. Falls also noted that both walkers and fast runners show up for the social workouts.
"They're all so busy talking it's hard to get them out the door sometimes," said Falls.
On Saturday mornings at 9 a.m., the group heads out from Fleet Feet for a run between three and eight miles, depending on the chosen course.
The Huffers and Puffers also hit the pavement on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. Group members meet at the Pleasanton Middle School track to improve their speed with warm-ups, drills and other exercises lead by Falls' husband, Ethan. Falls said that in the next few weeks, the group will grow in numbers due to the start of triathlon training.
Anyone interested in lacing up their sneakers with Huffers and Puffers is encouraged to simply show up, introduce themselves and start sweating. For more information, go to www.fleetfeetpleasanton.com.
See Jane Run in Blackhawk
If you happen to spot a gaggle of women wearing matching blue shirts running the streets of Blackhawk, it's probably See Jane Run's weekly Brooks Run Happy group.
Located in the Blackhawk Plaza, See Jane Run not only provides athletic wear for female runners, but the staff practices what they preach. Running coaches Carol Valdez and Aimee Penn lead free weekly runs that detour through neighborhoods and trails in the surrounding hills.
"Running is my passion," said Valdez. "I've been doing it for years now and I just love being able, if I can, to motivate women especially. Our running group is my girl time where we all come together and empower each other."
The shorter of the two scheduled runs ranges from three to five miles and is held at 6:45 p.m. Mondays, after the afternoon heat subsides. Runners looking to get a healthy running start to their weekend meet on Saturdays at 8 a.m. With more time for a longer run, the group typically runs between five and eight miles.
To a beginner, even four miles can sound daunting, but the group runs at a steady pace and leaves no runner behind.
"I love my Janes," said runner Kristi Girdner. "I would not have gone anywhere close to the amount of miles that I have if it were not for them! They motivate, inspire and encourage me through."
Girdner discovered the group when she bought a pair of shoes for her 11-year-old daughter, Jules. The mother-daughter duo have been Brooks Run Happy runners ever since, starting their day with high spirits and plenty of water.
"When you're running with a group, you are compelled to keep going since everyone else is," Jules said.
Learn more at www.seejanerun.com.
Forward Motion Sports in Danville
Forward Motion Run Club's (FMRC) workout calendar offers group exercises seven days a week, which means there are no excuses. In addition to catering to runners, FMRC has scheduled bike rides and swim workouts.
"Our mission is to create and promote an organized venue where athletes (runners, triathletes, cyclist, swimmers, etc.) of all ages and abilities can pursue their individual training and racing goals in an exciting, motivating, informative and social environment. Having fun and enjoying the camaraderie of our fellow teammates is our main goal," states Forward Motion Run Club's website.
For an annual fee of $60, members can benefit from networking, workouts, social events, training, racing resources, sponsorships and discounts at Forward Motion Sports. FMRC is known for its Wednesday night runs, which begin at 6:30 p.m. at the store (432 Hartz Ave., Danville) and follow a variety of routes between eight and 10 miles.
Regardless of ability, FMRC fosters an encouraging sense of camaraderie, acting as a gateway for beginners beside elites to discover their athletic abilities. With 30-50 people typically attending the Wednesday run, FMRC participants always have someone to pace with. Learn more at www.forwardmotionraceclub.com.
Get out and get active
You don't need to be a Pleasanton resident to run with the Huffers and Puffers or from Danville to get active with Forward Motion. All clubs regularly draw runners from throughout the Tri-Valley and I-680 corridor, so lace up your sneakers, meet some neighbors, and get your exercise.
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