The group hustling up and down the Morningside street in 185-yard running bursts July 23 includes the athletically built, those who look as if they’re about to die at any moment and a woman who looks like she’s about to give life at any moment.
Herding the group of 30 through the heat and sweat with encouragement and light trash talk — “Come on, Coco, let’s go! Ladies, come on, let’s go again!” “There’s not just ladies back here!” — are iRun Company store co-owners Cobi Morales and Hector Arana.
On Thursdays, Morales and Arana run a free beginners running group, for those who don’t regularly crack nine-minute miles. They included the “free” part to widen their arms to the community and cultivate a market often undeserved by more serious running groups.
Also, Arana will note, no money cost truly removes excuses.
Over the four years of iRun’s Workout Mondays, as often happens with runners, that group has bonded like family to each other and the store in the 5000 block of Biscayne Boulevard. Not just cookout cousin family, but immediate family — at least two sets of spouses met as Monday group members, including FIU women’s swimming and diving coach Randy Horner and his spouse.
“Our current Workout Mondays members have been with us three to four years,” Arana said. “The beginners program filled the void for people who came on Mondays and said, ‘Wow, this is too overwhelming’ or, ‘They’re too fast’ and they didn’t understand why, we decided to start the beginner’s workout.”
Their instincts got confirmation when iRun’s Facebook page announced the start of the beginners program on May 5. The immediate stream of responses ran in three flavors — people tagging friends in notification/invitation; happiness over a running club for those who struggle to finish a 5K in under a half-hour; and appreciation that it’s free.
“I have a few friends who do iRun [activities] and would always see on their Facebook feeds,” Sunny Isles Beach’s Alexandra Hawryluck said. “So when they advertised they were doing a Thursday beginner run, I enlisted my girls with me and we all just kind of doing it as fun. Now, we’re starting to get more serious about it. It became more a friendship kind of thing to grow our friendship, now this is what we do. We’ve signed up for some races now.”
Said Arana: “We love Thursdays. It’s a different atmosphere, a different group of people. They’re at the part of their running where they’re more appreciative. Not that the Monday night group isn’t appreciative, but they come, they know what to expect, they do it and that’s it. Here, it’s different. I feel like they appreciate it more because they’re beginners. I love having to explain the workouts — tell them what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.”
Last Thursday’s workout, for example, was 10 to 12 185-meter sprints with focus on quickness of stride rather than length. The Monday group did six to eight 1,400-meter runs.
Miramar’s Karen Pino spends her school year days as an trust counselor at Hialeah High and nights as an owner of La Taberna Giralda restaurant in Coral Gables.
“I work a lot of hours, so I need this,” Pino said. “I joined the gym, but this is something that, of all the things I’ve done, I enjoy the most.”
Miami’s Nicole Nelson runs the warmup mile and a half, then walks back and forth as the group does 185s Then again, you don’t find many women in the eighth month of pregnancy remaining even that active.
“It’s such a nice group to work out with because everybody’s at different levels and there’s no pressure,” Pino said. “You can excel at your own pace.”