In my continued effort to lose weight and get in shape I registered for First Strides which begins all over the Lehigh Valley this week. I’ll be at the Sand Island sessions, which start this Thursday.
Basically First Strides is a running program for women that is sponsored by Lehigh Valley Hospital, Aardvark Sports Shop (Bethlehem), and The Finish Line Running Store (Emmaus). I participated two years ago and I’m determined to get back into running again so I joined up again this year.
Basically you meet up with a swarm of other women to run, in my case at Sand Island (one of my favorite running spots), each week. After a few weeks you break out into groups that run at a similar pace. Groups have names like Jaguars, Giselle’s, even Jack Rabbits. If there was a turtle group that would have been perfect for me. In all seriousness though it is a great way to meet people with similar goals and challenges.
But in all seriousness this is perfect for first timers and even experienced runners, especially if you need some motivation. You follow a program that gradually builds in time and speed each week, switching between slow and fast intervals. Each week the fast intervals gets longer and the slow intervals gets longer. For newbies or people like me who are coming off of a hiatus you can walk the slow interval, and run the fast interval. If you are already running or are somewhat in shape you can run both intervals, slow run and fast run. The first week the run intervals are only ONE MINUTE long. Seriously, you can do this. Each week there is also homework, at first two additional runs before the next meeting, eventually three additional runs. By the end of the 12 week program you are ready to run a 5K. For many in the group this will be a first 5K. It was mine 2 years ago and I survived (barely). And not because they didn’t prepare me, but because I didn’t always keep up with my homework. Now I know better and I WILL keep up with the homework this time.
You can even enter the program intervals into Runkeeper to help you with your homework runs. Hopefully you picked up the pro app when it was free in January. If not, it is worth every penny. The free app is also good, try it first and if you like it get the pro version.
There is still time to register on-line. Go to the First Strides homepage and click on the location you want to sign up for and then go to the registration area. They’ll ask if you want to join Active.com, unless you are really interested, skip that part, it costs extra and is not required for joining First Strides.
I also plan to work in a few P90X routines each week because I did notice running was much easier last summer when I was on the program. I still need to find my motivation again, I’ve been extra lazy in the morning lately, only getting in about 2 P90X workouts a week.
I also tend to think I can eat a lot more (more than burning off with exercise) when I’m active so I’ll also be on the weight watchers program during all of this to keep me in line. I managed to lose 3.2 lbs at my 2nd check-in. Woo-hoo. I’m hoping to earn my first 5 lb gold star this week. Fingers crossed – I was kind of bad this weekend – I’ve burned through my extra weekly points. I must say that I like the points plus program much better – I’m eating lots of fruits and vegetables instead of crappy pre-packaged foods with artificial ingredients just to make point calculations easy and points low.