MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Running groups aren’t anything new, but now there’s one taking off in the Twin Cities that gives you a chance to train with Team USA runners as your coach – and it’s all free.

Antonio Vega and Andrew Carlson met in college while competing against each other in track and cross country — they both run for TEAM USA Minnesota — but they now work together as coaches.

“That’s the thing with running is that it tends to be such a niche group,” Vega said. “We wanted to make a group that is all encompassing.”

Every week, Carlson and Vega run “Wednesday Walk or Workout” at Mill City Running in Northeast Minneapolis.

The store, along with the blog Minneapolis Running, started the event after they received a wave of requests for a local running club.

“If someone is pushing you to keep up, that’s something you just can’t do yourself ,” Carlson said.

It was hard to turn down the opportunity to run with elite runners, so WCCO’s Kate Raddatz decided to try it.

After a 1-mile warm-up run to the banks of the Mississippi, it was time for the real thing.

“There’s three options for workouts tonight: 100-meter hills, 200-meter hills or 300-meter hills,” Carlson said.

Carlson says the goal is to build endurance for your heart and muscles to make solo runs easier.

“You got Andrew and Antonio who have their resumes that’s hard to match in this town,” runner Dan Murphy said. “There’s just a lot of good experience you don’t find everywhere else .”

After 10 hills, we made it.

“Anybody can be a runner and that’s why we have different levels for different people,” Carlson said.

Carlson says the best tip for a beginner runner is to be consistent. He says joining a local running group will help hold you accountable. And the views of the Mississippi beat the treadmill any day.

“Running by yourself can be a really mentally nice experience, but doing this type of speed work and hills with people and having the comradery just brings out the best athlete in everyone,” Carlson said.

If you aren’t ready to run, they also have a walking group.

Mill City Running just opened in July and the store also hosts a more traditional group run on Fridays. For more information, click here.


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