- A great way of accommodating a range of runners on a continuous run
- Works endurance at a level suitable for all runners in the group
- Good for groups of 4-15 runners
- Works well in parks and on roads on fairly well-known routes
Loop Back is a means of accommodating runners of a range of abilities in a continuous run without making the effort too demanding for slower runners and without compromising the quaity of faster runners' sessions.
The basic idea is that all runners set out on a fixed route, with faster runners looping back at various points to join the back of the pack.
As the faster runners head back they "sweep up" other runners, who join them, until everybody is regrouped at the back of the pack. Runners then all continue at their own pace until the next loopback point.
Another option is to have runners turn around and jog to the back of the group at periodic intervals. When everybody is back together runners set off again at their own pace until the next loopback time. All runners in the group will need watches and will need to make sure they're in sync for this to work.
If the session is taking place over a fixed-distance loop in a park or similar it may be possible for a group leader to whistle to indicate that everybody should loop back and regroup.
Four is the minimum for the session to work well. With three there will always be one runner either looping back or at the back of the group, which isn't really in the spirit of group runs. Beyond 15 or so runners there tend to be too many different paces and mini-groups developing which can get confusing.
Make sure the loopback points are separated by a reasonable distance. Continually having to loop back can get a bit tedious.
Make sure all runners know the route fairly well and where the loopback points are. Despite best intentions people do occasionally get separated and it's not fun being lost when out on a run, especially for those who take advantage of group numbers for safety.
Having somebody responsible for knowing who is in the group and taking the odd headcount is a good idea.