Author: Joy Choquette, St. Albans Messenger

When Lauren Howe decided to get off the couch and into her running shoes, she didn’t look back. Lauren, a third-grade teacher, leads a full and busy life. Like all working mothers, she balances her career with the care of her children. In Lauren’s case that includes nine-year old twins. Running was not completely new to Lauren. She had been a runner earlier in life, but other commitments and a lack of time made it challenging to resurrect her exercise program.

That all changed when she signed up for the RiseVT Couch-to-5K program, or C25K as it is referred to. “One of my friend’s saw the RiseVT post on Facebook and tagged me in it,” Lauren said. “I enlisted a few other friends to join us.” For Lauren, the program offered the, “perfect amount of accountability.”

If you’re unfamiliar with the C25K program, here are the basics: it offers novice runners a chance to go from sedentary to crossing the finish line of a 5K race after only nine weeks. Josh Clark, the inventor of the popular program, started C25K in 1996. Since that time, thousands of couch potatoes-turned-runners have completed it. Many go on to complete more races in the future. That was the case for Lauren, who completed her first 5K earlier this year and is currently training for a 10K in November. “I didn’t have expectations to continue running, once I did the 5K,” Lauren said, “but I’ve been hooked in again!”

One of the foundational principles of C25K is that running shouldn’t be painful. Another is that individuals ease into the program to avoid injuries. This also helps participants to celebrate small successes. The plan utilizes a walk/run method at first, to get the body used to the unfamiliar motion of running. Lauren had actually tried the C25K app before, but hadn’t found success with it.

This time around though, with the accountability of the group that met once a week, a friend who joined her, and the training program that RiseVT offered—longer chunks of time running than the app, she noted—Lauren found success. “This particular program was different,” Lauren said, “The pace of the program was great and it got me back into something I used to love to do.”

Indeed, many non-runners may think that running is a solo activity. Lauren was quick to point out that for her, the comradery was an important—and wonderful—perk of the C25K program. “You might meet people you don’t know now or meet others that you might connect with in a new way,” she said. “I hadn’t exercised in a really long time. I was anticipating it being a really homogenous group,” said Lauren. “But we weren’t and that was good. It didn’t feel competitive and everyone was really supportive.”

The C25K group through RiseVT met weekly for several weeks this past spring at Collins Perley. Lauren, who teaches school during the day, was able to make it to the training event weekly on her commute home to Swanton. “You don’t have to be in the best shape or super thin in order to run,” Lauren said. It’s for people of all ages and all levels of ability.

Most of the people who started the C25K program in March completed it, with several going on to run more races since then. “And it was free. That was great, there was nothing to pay for,” Lauren said with a laugh.

Since she started running again, Lauren stated that friends and acquaintances have reached out to her via text or Facebook to ask about her experience. “’You’re a mom, you’re working, you have no time—how are you doing this?’ people asked.” Lauren was happy to tell them about the RiseVT C25K program.

She also said that running is a simple exercise to add into a busy week. “You can fit it in in a way that you can’t with classes or going to the gym or things that you need equipment for,” said Lauren. She noted that recently while visiting family in Massachusetts, she brought along her sneakers and squeezed in her runs just like when she was at home.

“RiseVT has been a ripple effect for me and I’m grateful,” said Lauren. “It came at the right time.” To others who are considering trying out the C25K program for themselves, or any of the other RiseVT events, Lauren offers this advice: “Just get out there. Give it a try.”

WANT TO TRY YOUR FIRST 5K? Register for the Copley 5K Run for the Heart on September 29th in Morristown! First-time 5K participants can contact our RiseVT Program Manager in Lamoille County to get your registration fee covered! Contact Cole Person at cpearson@chsi.org or 802-888-8249.