Camaraderie and Accountability: Michelle's Walk and Run 101 Story

Michelle completed the 2019 winter-to-spring season of Walk & Run 101, our beginner walk/run program. Here, she tells us how committing to the program has impacted her.

I joined CRC's Walk & Run 101 program for two main reasons. First, I wanted to get back into shape. Second, I remembered how much I used to enjoy running, but I couldn't find the motivation to keep doing it. I'd run for a week or two but then I would just gradually stop doing it all together. CRC's outreach coordinator, Lisa, visited my workplace for an event and introduced the program with a lot of enthusiasm. It was then that I realized the piece I was missing was accountability to keep me going.
I'll never forget being tired after only a mile on our group's first run together! We were told to run at a pace where we could still talk (I think the hidden motive was to get us to talk and get to know each other). Lisa and the coaches were the best! They kept spreading out so no matter what your pace was or where you were in your journey, they were always there with advice and encouragement. I thought it was great how they made sure to talk to every person throughout the Saturday runs.
I really felt like they were there to answer questions or ask how I was doing and offer advice on how to improve or keep going in the right direction. I was out one week with the flu and emailed Lisa to ask how to get back into it and up to my pace. She gave me an idea of a schedule but told me to mostly just listen to my body and take it slow. The personalized attention really made it feel like everyone cared about making you the best you can be.
As the weeks went on, I felt like I was getting up on Saturdays to go hang out with my friends. If anyone missed a Saturday run, they were missed and someone would inevitably ask them where they were when they came back (in a concerned way, not interrogating). Being held accountable really made me keep up with the program throughout the week. I knew that if I didn't do my runs on my own during the week that I would not be able to do the Saturday runs.
We would talk about how running during the week went and how we were improving with being able to run further before walking or just doing more miles in general. We shared pointers and suggestions like what gloves to wear, apps we were using to track mileage and pace, or our favorite running socks. We also discussed issues we had such as back pains, leg cramps, shin splints and what we were doing about it. Lots of stretching suggestions came up! Near the end of our time and as the 5K was getting closer, we planned out future races and many of us planned to continue training for longer races.
It was a happy yet sad ending when race day came. We started together and Lisa made sure each person was doing their best but not overdoing it. It didn't matter where you finished among the group because we were all there just to encourage each other. As each person finished, they joined the group as a big cheerleading squad and cheered as every person crossed the finish line. Lisa ran the end with every person and therefore finished the race over 20 times! It was a wonderful time and happy ending to see everyone doing there very best they can do on our last day together.
I went from not being able to run an entire mile to being able to run the entire 5K! I improved my previous best 5K by about five minutes but more importantly, I did it without feeling like I was going to die at the end. Since the 5k, I've run a 10k and am currently training for a half marathon. I've taken a two week break from running to rest my knees due to injury and been okay with it since I'm listening to my body and not quitting. I'm okay with walking some of the half marathon because the most important thing is that I'm doing it and I will finish it.
I joined the Walk & Run 101 group to stay motivated and get back into shape, but I got so much more out of it than that. I got a group of friends that I can always run with. I learned how to handle injuries, listen to my body, and keep growing in my running journey. I've learned how making the time to run really helps me to get off the couch and do other things as well. Lastly, I just feel better about myself and I am more confident that I can keep going and not quit. 

* * *

The summer season of Walk & Run 101 begins July 27. Visit to learn more, sign up, and get started on your journey to finishing your first (of what could be many) 5K race.