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Team helps old, new runners find their stride

By Courtney Herrig Times Correspondent
Published October 19, 2007

DOWNTOWN - The setting sun turns downtown buildings orange and the minarets of the University of Tampa aglow as joggers circle the school's track for their weekly run.

But these aren't college students. Some are as young as 12, others as old as 70. They are triathletes or marathoners or people just looking for a new challenge.

All are members of Progressive Training Team Inc., a paid membership group that meets with Dror Vaknin, known as "Coach Dror." The team has no association with UT, although Vaknin happens to be the assistant coach for the college's cross-country team.

During a recent session, Vaknin divides the runners into groups depending on their level of fitness.

The runners could be divided into as many as 17 sets; each group has its own pace schedule for a variety of distances throughout the training session. Vaknin creates a training schedule for each runner and offers advice.

Vaknin began Progressive Training Team in 1991 when he was training the University of South Florida's cross-county team. Often, people would come to him for running advice. He was having three-hour phone conversations about training techniques before starting the program.

"It just made sense to organize a group," Vaknin said. Now the organization has nearly 100 members, and Vaknin expects the numbers to grow in coming months as marathon season progresses. He has another Progressive Training Team that meets once a week in Clearwater.

The team grew largely by word of mouth. Most members knew another member before joining.

"All of my friends were on the team, and they got me to join," said Sarah Sadd, who lives in South Tampa.

Tom Lane, a new Progressive Training member, had the same explanation: "My triathlete friend, Jackie, got us to join."

Bob Gries loved to run years ago. In 1981, he jogged in the New York marathon when he was 22. Then he stopped running for more than two decades until he was moved to join the progressive team three years ago.

"Running with a group is the key," he says. "Got to have a group to train with."


Fast facts:

Join the team

The Progressive Training Team meets Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and Wednesdays from 7 to 8 a.m. and 6:30 to 8 p.m. Costs $40 per month or $15 per session. Runners meet at the University of Tampa's Pepin-Rood Stadium. For more information, call 846-5021 or go to


[Last modified October 18, 2007, 06:40:19]

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