CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Spring has sprung and launched my thoughts toward the subject of renewal. It's a time when our environment comes alive. There are tulips popping through cool soil, trees showing bits of color ready to burst out, grass thickening and enjoying a vibrant wash of green and, thankfully, the sunlight is finding its way back to us.
No other time of the year puts me in such a hopeful state of mind. My head is filled with possibilities, and I am energized to find new ways to renew my body, mind and spirit. I am not alone as I see others eager to shed winter habits and come out of hibernation. It's the perfect preface to improving your lifestyle, realigning goals and declaring a solid commitment.
So how do you take all this internal motivation and unleash it in the right direction? You want to get outside on these gorgeous days, but you're bored with the same walk in the same neighborhood. Or, perhaps you yearn for a bigger challenge and a measurable accomplishment. Let me toss out a suggestion that just might spring you forth in a new direction.
If you like to walk, consider setting your sights on a 5K walk/run. Sound like too lofty a goal? It isn't if you train properly and have great support. There is a 10-week program that takes people of all levels through a regular training routine to prepare them for the Independence Day Race on July 2 in Charleston. It is the Genesis 5K Training Program, a course developed by certified running coach Matt Young and modeled after the Couch to 5K program.
Young says, "I'm a Road Runner Club of America certified running coach. The RRCA coaching certification program trains coaches to work with adult road runners at all levels, beginner to advanced. By offering a coaching program for road running, they hope people will be attracted to the sport and, more importantly, by working with a coach to train intelligently, they will be able to extend their running careers, have more fun running and minimize the risks of overuse injuries."
What I love about this program is that it takes you step by step through an instructional process to avoid the pitfalls of undertaking a new activity. Oftentimes, when we jump into a new form of exercise, we either fail to train regularly or we overtrain, which increases the likelihood of dropout or overuse injuries. This program meets you where you are. Day by day and week by week, you are taught to increase your distance and intensity gradually so that by the program's end you reach your goal.
For example, if you have always walked but would like to run, Young explains, "For beginners who may have never run a quarter-mile, we start out very slowly with a combination of walking and jogging. Each week you run a little more and walk a little less. By the day of the race, they're ready to run the full 5K, or 3.1 miles."
If you are experienced at running -- running at least 12 miles a week with at least one of those runs being 4 miles -- they have an advanced program. Think you can't get anything more out of your run? You'll find yourself going faster and farther with no additional wear and tear on the body. Pace is an important component in learning to run or walk.
However, if you just want to walk, Genesis training has a walker program, too. This 10-week program begins with an informational meeting. Attend one at 6:30 p.m. April 13 at Tyler Mountain YMCA or at 6:30 p.m. April 20 at the Charleston YMCA. Then training will be held every Tuesday evening, beginning April 27 with a group at Andrew Jackson Middle School in Cross Lanes or Magic Island in Charleston.
Within the program, there is generous support from coaches and other training partners. It provides you with a day-to-day regimen, weekly coaching tips and is available to help you as needed.
If you've been looking for something to renew your mind, body and spirit, check out the Genesis 5K Training Program -- it will help you run for your life. Visit www.wvruncoach.com for more information.
Cindy Boggs, fitness presenter, author and Activate America director, has been an ACE-certified coordinator/instructor since 1989. Send your questions about fitness, training or health to YMCA of Kanawha Valley, 100 YMCA Drive, Charleston, WV 25311, or e-mail cindys...@aol.com. Look for Cindy's award-winning fitness advice book, "CindySays ... You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World" on her Web site, www.cindysays.com, or contact the YMCA at 340-3527.