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Shannon Javaras competed in last year's First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon.
Sarasota Thursday, Dec. 23, 2010 6 years ago

Running programs take off for half marathon

by: Loren Mayo Black Tie Editor

If you’ve never been a long-distance runner, training for your first big race goes beyond just reaching the finish line. By joining a team in training, runners can get insider tips from coaches who are experts on proper clothing, what to eat, how to fuel and ways to get through the mental and psychological barriers that almost everybody faces.

Although she serves as leader for the New Balance in Motion walking team for the 2011 First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon, which takes place March 13, Holly Johnson is also training for her 14th marathon.

“The value of a training program is priceless,” Johnson said. “Most of my group started out in the fall on a 20-minute walk, and they are up to about 80 to 90 minutes now. Everybody’s got a little bit of discomfort, but you start figuring out how you can work through it.”

There are many factors that can make or break your race day. Two general rules are to never increase your speed or distance by more than 10% in a week and never wear or try anything new on race day.

“To me, it’s not only about building your fitness level,” Johnson said. “Coaches understand what to add and what you can do after a run to de-stress. We’re here to be your resources, not only from a physical state, but a mental state, and to help with needs such as being motivated and whether you want a sports coach or someone to write up a program and send you on your merry way.”

Johnson says what has made her running — and virtually all of her races — successful is participating in build-up races along the way, that help to mitigate many mistakes that could occur on race day.

“My No. 1 confidence-builder has been finishing races and setting a goal, realizing that we can all do so much more than we ever think we can,” Johnson says. “It’s an unbelievably rewarding goal to cross that finish line and know you can do something you never thought you could do before.”

Teams in training
A list of walk, run, teen and charity organization training programs for the 2011 First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon can be found at, under “Training Information.”

Fleet Feet Sports
Deadline to join: Jan. 8
Details: Training begins at 7 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 8, at Fleet Feet Sports, 1830 S. Osprey Ave. Coached walk/runs take place Saturday mornings and runner’s choice of either 6 a.m. or 6 p.m. Mondays. An optional cross-training day takes place at 6 a.m. Wednesdays. Clinics are provided by professionals and experts and include nutrition and hydration samples. Must be able to run six miles by the first group run.
Cost: $100 to $130
Info: Call 894-3338, e-mail [email protected] or visit

New Balance
Deadline to join: Jan. 8
Details: Customized 13-week training program and coaching sessions. Interested participants can join either the running or walking group now through Jan. 8, based on current fitness levels. Walking group meets at 8 a.m. Saturdays; running group meets at 6 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays, at New Balance Sarasota, 1872 Stickney Point Road.
Cost: $100 to $139
Info: Call 921-3696 or visit

Deadline: If joining after the holidays, you must be able to run five to six miles.
Details: Group meets two days per week at 5:30 p.m. Thursdays and 7:30 a.m. Sundays, at Fit2Run, 8249 Cooper Creek Blvd. Clinics on training and nutrition will also be held.
Cost: $150
Info: Call 358-5100 or e-mail [email protected]

ShamRockersUSA teen training
Deadline: Currently accepting teens; depends on your fitness level.
Details: Six-month training program at varied distances. Group meets at 8:45 a.m. Saturdays, at Marina Jack.
Cost: $295
Info: [email protected]

Contact Loren Mayo at [email protected]


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