Health Alert: First Strides - - Columbia, South Carolina

Health Alert: First Strides

NATIONAL - If you've ever thought about running a 5k, the first step in training is the hardest one. A program targeted at women is helping them stride to the finish line.

Though Anne Marie Crown likes strolling in her yard, she's ready to run.

Anne Marie's leading a group of women as they prepare for a 5k run, but running hasn't been a life-long love.

"I turned 56 and I found myself running my first race, so I truly believe that I'm a late bloomer," she says.

Last year, Anne Marie joined a group called "First Strides," a program that guides women into activity.

Jane Serues explains, "It is 12 weeks, so it gives us lots of time to take people, I say, right off the couch and get them ready for a 5k."

The program, created by Jane Serues, achieves that by watching the clock, not counting the miles.

"It's time-based, it's not distance-based. And that's sort of the key, so we have a 25 minute workout the first week and everybody finishes in 25 minutes, whether you're right off the couch and walking, or if you're already a jogger who wants to get faster."

Volunteers lead groups in sequences of "easy" walking or jogging with intervals of faster and more demanding exercise.

"So to have the program be so gradual and introduce it minutes at a time makes it do-able."

Anne Marie found that philosophy ideal to transform her from a walker to a runner, "And one day I said to myself, 'Geez, if you would just run for 20 feet, you could be the slowest runner.' So I quickly transferred from being the fastest walker to the slowest runner."

It was a move that ultimately meant Anne Marie exceeded her own expectations.

Jane Serues estimates about 70 percent of women starting the First Strides program as walkers progressively move into running.

Posted by Bryce Mursch

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