Registration now open!
Dec. 27, 2021 to April 30, 2022
Saturdays - Long Runs
Wednesdays - Track Workouts
Group training targeting spring marathons
Chicago and Lisle
Winter months can be challenging, but CARA's "Power of the Group" will provide you the support, community, and accountability you need to successfully run through the winter, and reach your spring race start line ready for success.
As Chicago's premier group training program, we have helped tens of thousands of runners successfully complete their goals. Whether you're a newcomer or experienced runner, our program provides training plans that meet you where you're at.
You will never have to go it alone. Your pace group leaders and fellow participants will give you the Power of the Group that has led CARA runners to the finish line more than any other program in Chicagoland running.
Your training program is led by CARA coaches who have national certifications and years of proven coaching success long before we bring them into CARA.
18-week training plan with five options (Novice, Novice II, Intermediate, Advanced, and Run/Walk)
Training guide and weekly education newsletters
New! - Video guided marathon tailored strength training plan
Group training long Runs (Saturdays) led by group leaders for 7:30 to 11:30 pace/per mile run, and 12:00 to 13:00 pace/per mile run/walk
Coach led speed workouts (Wednesdays)
Hydration support at training runs, including water and Gatorade Endurance
Rush Physical Therapy Injury Hotline
Custom BOCO CARA winter training hat
Access to a private STRAVA group for program participants
Dec. 27 - Training Program Plans Begin
Dec. 29 - First Group Speedwork Sessions
*Jan. 2 - First Group Long Run
*Note: First group long run moved from Saturday, January 1 to Sunday, January 2 to accommodate holiday
Illinois Marathon and other spring marathons
Training plans available for other spring marathons by request
Group Long Run Locations
CARA training group long runs are offered at locations throughout the city and suburbs. Participants have access to all locations through the season and are not restricted to only their primary registration choice. (Click location maps for google map)
Group Track Workout Locations
CARA training group track workouts are offered at locations throughout the city and suburbs. Participants have access to all locations through the season. Locations marked with (*) use a greenway/trail for workouts.
Program Fees & Registration
Group Training: $160
Save 15% ($24 Discount) - 2021 and 2022 CARA Supporter Level Members
Members receive discount by logging in with membership username/password during registration.
Online registration payments are subject to a service fee by our registration provider. To avoid online payment fees, send a check for the amount owed to CARA, 1100 W. Cermak Rd. #231, Chicago, IL 60608. Provide full name, e-mail, phone number and note that check is for winter marathon training program fees. CARA will then contact to complete registration.
FAQ / Policies
When and where is packet pick-up?
Fleet Feet Elmhurst
*Please note, store availability may vary due to holidays
Can my packet be mailed?
Yes, you may select packet mailing for a fee during registration. Or, after regristration, packet mailing can be added in your participant account.
What training level is needed to participate?
CARA has a proven record of serving beginning runners, and long-time runners alike. Before starting our Novice Plan, we recommend that you can complete 4 runs per week, including at least one run of 6 miles at a pace of at least 13 minutes per mile.
What is the program's weather policy?
We will run/walk rain or shine. However, if there is lightning or other hazardous weather we will cancel or postpone. Our full weather policy and weather alerts are HERE.
Can I cancel my registration?
Participants may choose to voluntarily exit the program. Participants who exit the program by the date two weeks prior to the start date of the program, may receive a full credit of fees paid towards any single CARA program or event of any kind of equal or lesser value. Credit valid through the end of the following calendar year. To exit the program, e-mail email@example.com.
Can I enter the program after the start date?
Yes, participants are welcomed to enter the program late. The deadline for registration is 4 weeks prior to the program's end date.
Is there a CARA member discount?
How old do I need to be to participate?
Runners must be 18 years or older to participate in group training.
May I run with a pet at training runs?
No, participants may not run with pets at training runs.
May I run with a stroller at training runs?
No, participants may not run with strollers at training runs?
Are there discounts for charity runners?
CARA training programs rely on dedicated volunteer site coordinators, group leaders, and coaches to support program participants, and provide a safe and enjoyable experience for all.
Site coordinators are recruited from experienced program group leaders. Those interested in becoming a site coordinator now, or in the future as openings are available, should contact CARA Director of Training Tim Bradley (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Group leaders are the backbone of CARA training programs. Group leaders keep runners safe, organized, on-pace, and motivated during training runs. Those interested becoming a group leader can learn more HERE.
Coaches are needed to support CARA track workouts. Experienced coaches may be tabbed with leading a workout, where others can assist with workout organization and timing while learning. Those interested in becoming a coach or assistant coach should contact CARA Director of Training Tim Bradley (email@example.com).
Hydration Volunteers are needed to support hydration stations at training locations. Volunteers may volunteer for a single date, or a season. Interested volunteers can check out opportunities on our volunteer page.
CARA has extensive operational preparedness plans to meet all safety and gathering guidelines provided by state and local authorities. Our plans have been widely accepted and were adopted by the Road Runners Clubs of America as a national framework for a return to group running during COVID-19.
Participation expectations will be as follows:
Participants are expected to wear a mask or face covering when gathering pre- or post-run until they are two weeks post full vaccination for COVID19. Per CDC guidance, fully vaccinated participants are not required to wear a mask or face covering while gathering pre or post-run.
Do not participate if you are feeling sick or ill, and or have a fever, or if you are unvaccinated and have been in contact with someone unrecovered from COVID-19.
Persons from high-risk groups for COVID-19 complications should consult their physician before participating.
Participants are encouraged to avoid traditional forms of physical contact (handshakes, high-fives, hugs, partner stretching, etc.), as well as close group gathering (group pictures, etc.).
Do not spit or blow nose while running in the group.
Do not share personal items, such as hydration, energy gels, towels, etc.
Participants may be required to exit programs/events temporarily or permanently should their actions not meet expectations and or they are creating risk for themselves or others.