318840_10151043445177978_2121341804_nIt’s July 29, 2012. I am proudly holding up my medal for completing the San Francisco Marathon (picture credit goes to Erin Sheehy, previous director of the San Francisco Marathon Training Program, also known as Run365).

The San Francisco Marathon (TSFM) might have been my second full marathon, but it definitely felt like running my first one again (in a very good way). It was the culmination of training for 26 weeks with Run365. I was happy to have met my goal of running a full marathon again, after over a year of not running one. However, I felt sad that our training season had ended, as I have made a lot of friends in the program, and I wasn’t sure whether I would see them again or not (spoiler alert: I’m still friends with a lot of them, and made even more friends with the following year’s program).

Run365 is the official training program for the San Francisco Marathon. I learned about it when I was looking to run another marathon. I thought something local would be better as I had to fly on a plane on my last one just a few hours after doing it (I wasn’t able to take a day off due to a new job). I saw that TSFM was offering a training program to go along with the race registration, so I thought it was perfect for me. I previously trained with another group for my first marathon, but since I had moved back to the Bay Area from Central California, I needed to look for another one. I know some groups out there that are good with training, but I wasn’t particularly good with the fundraising aspect of it, and always fell a little short of that goal. Run365 had some cost to it, but it’s not that much different from paying for a 6 month membership at a gym (and it’s more fun too!).

I picked the 26 week program (they have a 18, 12, and 8 week program as well) because I felt like I was starting from scratch again. While I had previously done a full marathon, my running was very sporadic after that. I only did a half marathon after a couple of months, and I was able to finish it, but I couldn’t say that I ran it particularly well. I decided I want to start building a running base again, so the full 26 weeks would give me the ability to get back into running mode once more (especially with some “winter weight” that I accumulated).

AibpRqACAAAVdrGRun365 is a great training program because not only do they have the long distance runs on Saturdays (which is typical for any training group), but they also have fun runs on Mondays and track on Wednesdays. The fun runs were great easy runs along the water front along the Ferry Building, and either going to Pier 39, or going the other direction to AT&T Park. Track workouts helped improve my speed by doing waterfalls (where you line up as a group and overtake each other one by one), one mile time trial, hill repeats, and fartleks (which sound funny, but I still have to remember what they really are). The long distance runs are really the most fun ones, in my opinion, because you get to run in pace groups (which is not found in all other training groups). You pick a group, anywhere from as fast as 7:30 minutes per mile to as fast as 12:30 minutes per mile. Coaches guide you along the way with tips on running form, nutrition, shoes, and even mental fortitude. What I like about training with groups in long runs is the friendship that ends up forming as well with the workouts.

Some other advantages with Run365 is that you get to practice the San Francisco course A LOT. And I do mean A LOT. You get to run up Fort Mason Hill, the Golden Gate Bridge, Haight St, Golden Gate Park, and there’s even a run that ends up in Sausalito (although that’s not part of the course, but they add it to have a good brunch celebration after, and a scenic ferry ride back). If you live in the East Bay or the South Bay, they have training groups there as well where you can train in that particular location or mix it up by driving to the city.

I trained with Run365 on my first year of running SFM, and I paced with Run365 on my second year. On my first year, I improved my time in running a marathon by 37 minutes and 14 seconds. On my second year, I improved over my first year by 40 minutes and 32 seconds!

For my third year, I was lucky (and honored) to be selected as an ambassador for the San Francisco Marathon! While I’m currently training for my second attempt at a grueling 50 Mile ultra marathon in April, I am already signed up to run the San Francisco Marathon again for the third time this year. All signs point to me rejoining Run365 again after April, whether as a pacer, a trainee (or maybe as a mascot).

So if you’re looking to train for your first half marathon, first full marathon, or just want to improve your time on either one (and want to make friends while you’re at it), join Run365. I whole-heartedly give my full seal of approval and recommend this great training program!

Editor’s note: Run365’s training program kicks off February 1st. If you want to do the full training program (and meet all the other awesome people you’ll be running with) be sure to sign up now!