My name is Renee, and I don't run.
I'm actually the official poster child for non-runners: I'm a full-figured, flat-footed asthmatic. I was not built for running (my boobs, feet, and lungs scream out in agony whenever I hit the pavement) and so I spent my youth swimming (where buoyancy and flipper-like feet earn medals).
So I surprised everyone when, last year, I trained for and ran my very first race: the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air 5K. I’d participated in many 5K events -- most often as a walker, where I’ve been known to finish dead last -- but never as a runner. But this race was different. I chose this particular race as my inaugural run because the American Lung Association’s mission is to improve lung health and prevent lung disease, and us asthmatics care a lot about that stuff.
I was a bit nervous; 3.1 miles is a long run for someone who has never even run to catch a bus –let alone surrounded by other real “runners” and with a timing chip on my shoe and a numbered bib on my chest. So in preparation, I penned training into my calendar, refilled all my inhaler prescriptions, bought a new pair of running shoes, and downloaded the “Map My Run” app.
Training wasn't easy and it certainly wasn't fun. I'll never be a "runner" but I did end up running 90% of the race, and (more importantly) didn't finish last or end up in the hospital. Training for that race showed me that my body, no matter how sedentary it had become over the years, was capable of moving for extended periods. And I not only survived but thrived. And that got me thinking about others like me.
Our community is filled with people who run -- even the golf carts have "26.2" stickers on them. But I know there are neighbors out there who want to be more active but may be intimidated by the gym, running groups, or boot camps. That's why we created First Steps Fitness (FSF), a low-pressure, non-competitive, beginner program that encourages you to move as long as you can, at your own pace, on a regular schedule. And over the course of the month-long program, you'll become more disciplined, improve your endurance, get stronger, and learn healthier eating habits.
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