Exercising Friendship


Running groups that fuse training with the pleasantness of a social club

Two women planning to move to Rochester contacted local fitness business Moms on the Run after locating it on the Internet. They signed up for runner’s training in advance of their arrivals because they wanted to hit the ground running socially.

Unlike book clubs that are social but sedentary, Moms on the Run and several other running groups in town are taking their gatherings on the road to offer participants fitness with friendship.

Moms Meeting Moms
Of the two objectives, the need for group interaction might be even bigger than the desire to get in shape, says Amy Stockton, owner and running instructor for Moms on the Run in Rochester.

Her training business, which is part of a chain that began in the Twin Cities suburb of Forest Lake, promotes “Fitness, Fun and Friendship.” It caters to the busy mom trying to improve her health, and it protects that atmosphere by limiting membership to women.

“We are all moms, and many women are not comfortable exercising in front of men,” says Stockton, a mother of five. “We are a safe and non-intimidating environment.”

Her female participants often discover common ground for friendship, which Stockton cultivates: “Women talk the whole time (at classes). They’re really just getting to know each other.”

Although her groups are sociable, the training program is no coffee klatch. “We don’t just go out and run,” says Stockton, who holds a degree in athletic training and sports medicine, “we do interval training.” This form of exercise involves repeating running patterns during a workout to increase stamina and strength.

Training for Fitness and Racing
A more fitness-focused (but still social) running club, open to both men and women of all running levels, is Swift-Kick Running, named because “you either have one [a swift kick] or you need one,” says Michelle Jamieson, owner of SureMichelle Instruction in Rochester.

“The group dynamic is huge!” says Jamieson, who has been training athletes for 20 years. “It’s a wonderful motivator.”

Jamieson offers both spring and fall programs which meet on Saturday mornings to condition runners for races ranging from the Med City Marathon in May to the many 5K (three mile) courses that have become common at community festivals. Runners all go at their own pace and engage in conversation with fellow runners while helping each other meet their running goals. Last year’s groups included many beginning runners who wanted to complete their first 5K.

Jamieson invites participants to “come run with friends and have fun preparing for your big event!”

Chatty Chicks
Chatty Chicks, a loosely organized group, has been running together for five years, according to co-leader Brenda Fyles. They gather at 5:45 a.m. to run three times a week. After walking a short distance somebody says, “Go,” and they’re off, often clumping together in groups of two or three.

“Nobody is ever running alone,” says member Colleen Timimi.

In fact, when one member was training to run a marathon, others changed their workouts to accompany her at the farthest distances, adds co-leader Cherie Jensen.

But, outside of personal goals, this group isn’t as concerned about the time of the run. “We’d rather be able to enjoy it and have fun than go all out and be dead [tired] at the end,” says member Deanna Tompkins.

Chatty Chicks has about 12 core members with about 75 others receiving the group’s emails. Members range in age from 27 to 52 and are almost all women.

“A few ‘Dashing Dudes’ come every once in a while,” says Fyles.

The socializing doesn’t stop at the end of the last mile. Chatty Chicks holds Christmas gatherings for members, cooperates in charitable events and has an occasional whimsical gathering, like getting together to sew tutus which the same runners wore in a subsequent race.

For more information on running groups in Rochester, contact Moms on the Run at AmyStockton@momsontherun.com or 507-218-2050; Sure Michelle Instruction at Info@suremichelle.com or 507-319-6712; and Chatty Chicks at brendaFyles@charter.net.