By Edward M. Eveld McClatchy Newspapers
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Birthdays are motivators. Last March, Tere Gathright was staring at 32. She had an unkind thought about herself.
“I’m overweight and bored,” the thought went. “I need a hobby. What better birthday present than to do something for me?”
She glanced back and forth between her 1-year-old and 5-year-old. As much as she loved her daughters, the “something” she had in mind would not involve small children tugging at her. She was intrigued by a flier she had seen about a six-week, walk-run training program.
The Merriam, Kan., woman had exercised and dieted off and on but never stuck with anything. She tried to recruit friends to join her in the training session but had no takers.
She went anyway.
This story doesn’t end with Gathright transformed into an ultra-marathoner. But she finished the six-week session and alternately walked and ran through her first race, a Mother’s Day 5K.
Now she runs that three-mile distance several times a week, with longer runs on Saturdays. Plus, she has lost 20 pounds.
And she found Annie Schroeder.
Schroeder was 21, single and with no children, and she had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia a year earlier. The two were not in the same place in life.
Schroeder joined weekly group runs with KC Express, a women’s running and walking group, and fell into pace with Gathright.
“You’re three miles out and have to run three miles back, and you feel like you can’t take another step,” Gathright said. “It was a lot of fun trying to keep each other motivated.”
Kelly Pfannenstiel, past president of KC Express, said its relatively simple goal of the 5K has launched many a runner, and for good reasons. Some runners get fit with that distance and stick with it. Others want to try for 10Ks and beyond.
“It’s an ideal distance,” she said. “It’s doable for just about anyone, any age, any weight. That’s actually how I got into running.”
And finding a person to run with can make a big difference.
“We call them BRFs, best running friends,” agreed Dimity McDowell, author with Sarah Bowen Shea of the just-published “Train Like a Mother.” “I think they’re as important as a supportive sports bra and a good pair of shoes.”
Train for a 5K
If you’re new to running, best to ease into it.
Atart by walking, then walk faster, then alternate walking and running. Each week, perform the exercise on Days 1, 3 and 5.
Have one complete rest day. The other two days can be rest days or, even better, days with other types of workouts.
Week 1: Walk 30 minutes.
Week 2: Run 30 seconds, walk 90 seconds. Repeat 20 times.
Week 3: Run 60 seconds, walk 60 seconds. Repeat 15 times.
Week 4: Run 90 seconds, walk 90 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Week 5: Run two minutes, walk one minute. Repeat six times.
Week 6: Run four minutes, walk one minute. Repeat six times.
Week 7: Run six minutes, walk one minute. Repeat five times.
Week 8: Run eight minutes, walk one minute. Repeat four times.
Week 9: Run 10 minutes, walk one minute. Repeat three times.
Week 10: Run 12 minutes, walk one minute. Repeat two times.
Week 11: Run 15 minutes, walk one minute. Repeat two times.
Week 12: Run 30 minutes.