Monday, December 17, 2012

The Gift of Running: Learn to Run with Connie Austin

By: Connie Austin
‘Tis the season to give …  the gift of running!
Why not give yourself, a co-worker, your employees, or a loved one the opportunity to make running a healthy habit in 2013?   Learn to Run! 
When I tell someone I teach the Learn to Run program at the FootZone, I often see their eyebrows furrow, and with a scrunched up face reply, “What do you mean you TEACH running?  Isn’t it just natural?” Yes, running is a natural motion for humans.  Yet most people run inefficiently and end up frustrated, injured, or so discouraged they quit and declare, “I can’t run.” 

By learning a few running and walking fundamentals, people in the Learn to Run program are often surprised beyond belief with their newly found competence on the first day! Soon, they can run farther than ever before, be free of pain or injury, and accomplish goals like finishing a 5k or losing weight!   Most important of all, we make sure to HAVE FUN!  This isn’t a boot camp or a training group.  Everyone practices at their own pace either walking, running or a combination of both.  Any speed is welcomed and given plenty of encouragement and support.  

Learning to perform any task correctly takes attention to form, technique, and proper use of equipment.  You may drive a car, but are you driving it with efficiency?  Is the emergency brake off? Are you shifting at the right time? You may fancy yourself as a great cook, but are you using your kitchen knives correctly?  Running properly takes some practice and knowledge of the tricks of the trade. 

Footzone ‘s Learn to Run class, now in it’s fourth year, is the perfect place for people who have tried and quit running, don’t like to run, want to begin a walking/running program, are fearful or skeptical about starting, or who need the camaraderie of a group to get up and go for it.  Over 1,000 people from age 7 to over 70, in the past 3 years bear witness to its success.  

The beauty of this program is the power for personal change within the context of a non-competitive, nurturing group environment.  Learning a life changing habit in community with others, brings support, confidence, and accountability for each individual. Research and experience show that people demonstrate greater success with guided repetition in a group environment, much better than in isolation.  Sure you can read a book about running correctly, and try it out on your own, but meeting with your running buddies and coach on a regular practice schedule will bring better returns for your effort. 

Another critical component to our success comes from the helpful FootZone staff and our running mentors.   Our mentors in the group are former Learn to Run students who have previously taken the class and know how the beginners feel.  They can share their success through telling their own story, or by example of being the runner they are today. 

January brings the beginning of a new Learn to Run session, and like all successful programs, after some evaluation, we’re tweaking it a bit to make it even better.  This year the class runs for 4 weeks, meeting one hour twice a week.  This allows more weekly group practice and time for outside presentations from local experts.

I love teaching this class, and implementing my Run Ready Formula to make learning to run fun and meaningful.  Often, prior to the first week of class, I receive phone calls and e-mails from nervous and curious folks with these common questions:

I’m overweight, is this class still for me?  Yes! You will learn all the fundamentals to apply to your fitness level as you are ready.  Most likely, you’ll begin by walking, then start running for 30 seconds, take a walk break, then run again in short intervals allowing your breath and body to be your guide.  Eventually you will increase your running spurts, seconds, steps or minutes at a time.  This is how some people started who went on to run half marathons and marathons. 
I have an old injury (knee, hip, head, ankle etc..) and am afraid I’ll reinjure myself if I run.  Can I still take this class? Yes!     We take great care to be sure your body is moving efficiently and you are pacing yourself correctly so you do not reinjure yourself.  Chances are, once you learn how to run properly, and you become stronger, your injury will bother you less and less. 

I’ve never run before and I’m a total beginner, is this class for me? ABSOLUTELY!  Your experience, age, size, shape, gender, or any other trait won’t hinder your ability to learn to run if you are willing!  80% of SUCCESS is just SHOWING UP!

How does the Learn to Run class differ from the Good Form Running clinics?  Good Form Running (GFR) emphasizes form only in a one-shot lecture, video, and practice format.  The class is free and offered each month. 

The LTR program is a series of classes designed for in depth, step by step (no pun intended) lessons that include proper running form, coaching, nutrition, hydration, injury-prevention,  hill running, keeping a running journal, and more.  The other big bonus for participants is a bunch of cool running gear and a store discount to jack up your motivation.
I look forward to meeting the new runners at our next class beginning Monday, January 14th at 5:30 at the FootZone!   
For more information, attend the quick LTR information night, Wednesday January 9th from 5:30 – 6:00pm. I’ll be there to answer any questions and help people sign up.

Register now at FootZone or contact Connie Austin.


Coach Connie Austin developed the Run Ready program and has been an educator, runner and coach for over 30 years.


COCC pays for any employee who takes the Learn to Run program as part of their employee wellness program.  Happy runners make a happy workplace!  Why not give your employees the gift of running?  Please contact me and we can set something up!

The Happy Girls’ Half Marathon, was conceived from a Learn to Run graduate, Lenora James?  After learning to run, she wanted to try running a half marathon with her girlfriends. Instead of going out of town to one of the many all women events, she created a hometown half marathon now in it’s 3rd year.

Many Learn to Run graduates have completed multiple half marathons, marathons, or become race directors for charity events.  Others have raised thousands of dollars for many charities by participating in 5k fundraising fun runs. 

No comments: