Major Strides

We unearthed scientific proof that you can learn to love running

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Erin Girzone (front row in sunglasses) with the 5K Yes I Can! group that took part in the Northeast Delta Dental 5K last weekend.
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We first encountered Erin Girzone and Pete Larson and their 5K Yes I Can! running group last year, when they guided a group of novice runners through a training regimen that ended with a 5K. Meanwhile, our training regimens continue to end with two Ks: Krispy Kremes.
 
Our heroic athletic exploits aside, we figured it was time to catch up with the latest group of participants to see if the program changed the way they thought about running. Our super scientific research was conducted by interviewing a few trainees at the beginning of the program and then catching up with them again at the Northeast Delta Dental Over the River & Through the Woods/5K Run for the Animals that essentially counted as graduation day. Here’s what they had to say!
 
Jennifer Walton.
Previous experience level: “complete novice.”
 
Words you would associate with running. Before: Painful, cranky. Always look like you’re having a terrible time. After: Awesome, fun, liberating. All great words.
 
How would you describe your mental state before/during/after a run? Before: A friend convinced me to sign up. The threat of public humiliation is a pretty powerful motivational force. After I feel glad it’s over, but pretty proud of myself that I can finish. After: I feel like it’s going to be fun. I find it to be a great stress reliever now, I seek it out. If I’m having a bad day, I feel like I want to put on my shoes and go for a run.
 
How would you describe your physical state before/during/after a run? Before: Usually by the next day, I’m OK. Right after, though, I sort of limp over to my car. After: I feel a lot better. If I’m sore, I know now from experience that it gets better. I’m maybe sore the next day, but all the great stretches and all the great recovery tools have been really helpful.
 
Chris Morin.
Previous experience level: “Intermediate.”
 
Words you would associate with running. Before: A little bit of a challenge at first. I’m a season runner; not in sub-zero temperatures. That’s not happening. After: Gratification.
 
How would you describe your mental state before/during/after a run? Before: A sense of accomplishment, that I want to continue. It motivates me to keep going. After: I feel a sense of accomplishment.
 
MaryAnn Hatab.
Previous experience level: “I was never a runner.”
 
Words you would associate with running. Before: Aerobic. I don’t think fun would be a word I would use. After: Getting fit, cameraderie - I think those would be the ones I associate the most with it. I’m not sure I would have started on my own. I like the pace of doing it with a group.
 
How would you describe your mental state before/during/after a run? Before: I feel good, I feel like I accomplished something. After: You definitely feel like you want to keep up with the group. There’s sort of an ownership to it, to yourself and the group.
 
How would you describe your physical state before/during/after a run? Before: At this stage, it’s a lot of hard work. You definitely feel it. After: I was never a person that really was hurting after running, but I do feel good the next day.
 
Jackie Blake.
Previous experience level: “I was not a runner before this.”
 
Words you would associate with running. Before: Death? No, I always wanted to do it. People said if you bought into it, by week six it would pay off. Pete and Erin always said that too, but by week four I thought, this is probably as much as I’m going to do. After: After week 8, that doubled. I didn’t believe that I would be able to, but two weeks ago I was running 5ks without stopping.
 
How would you describe your mental state before/during/after a run? Before: Just think of your breathing. After: It’s more pacing and not just running. Just know where you start and know your pace and keep that pace to the finish.
 
How would you describe your physical state before/during/after a run? I actually didn’t have much of a problem. They said to pace it and not do it two days in a row, do three days a week to condition your body.
 
Ashley Miller.
Previous experience level: “Zero. I could probably run five minutes at the gym.”
 
Words you would associate with running. Before: Just kind of painful, not fun. After: It’s still hard and it’s still painful, but I get a little more enjoyment out of it. It’s exciting, there’s adrenaline. I build up my own goals.
 
How would you describe your mental state before/during/after a run? Before: Even the first time we met, I was thinking, oh, I don’t want to do this, let’s just go and get it over with. After: Now I kind of look forward to it. I pick out my playlist of what I’m going to listen to and map out where I’m going to go. I wake up specifically to do this, and I feel better on days that I do.
 
How would you describe your physical state before/during/after a run? Before: The first few times I did it, I actually would even have a hard time breathing for a couple of days afterwards because my lungs weren’t used to it. After: Now I go out for a run and I feel great when I get back. I feel like I can keep going sometimes.
 
(There will be another 5K Yes I Can! session this fall. Visit fitnessinconcord.com to keep up.)

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