A new beginner running group in town is inviting participants of all levels to hit the park trails together at their own pace.
Since late June, the Vanderhoof Learn to Run Program has been meeting three times a week for half-hour workouts at Riverside Park.
The short, consistent workouts allow those who are interested in running — but not yet participating — to build their fitness level and be introduced to the sport gradually, organizer Chris Sutton explained.
“This is the program that got me into running four years ago,” Sutton said. “If I can get people in the same way.”
The program features 10 weeks of progression with intermittent walking breaks that shorten as the individual’s endurance improves, culminating with a total — but not necessarily non-stop — running distance of five kilometres in the final week.
“I’ve always had friends who wanted to get into running,” Sutton said. “Some just go too hard at the start, and they lose interest or burn out.”
For Trish Olin, it’s an opportunity to work and build her endurance again after a hiatus from running in the past year. “I really enjoyed running in the last five or so years,” Olin said. “I felt like I need to start over.”
While she finds running beneficial for physical and mental health reasons, the group support was enjoyable and the short time commitment was convenient for week days.
“You already put in a long day at work, then to be able to go out for half an hour and connect with these people,” Olin said. “It’s just a really positive fun way to exercise and socialize.”
Kiran Toor, who also plays softball, hasn’t run regularly since her high school days, she said.
“It’s a good way to get out and do something active during the week,” Toor said. “Having the support group of beginner runners to motivate me, and also having Chris who’s been through the process to get into running — he’s a good motivator himself.”
For Toor, the group is supportive by catering to different levels. “I really like the fact that no matter what level you’re at, you start, everyone meets up again, and you get going together,” she said. “It’s good encouragement.
“Thanks to Chris for the time and energy he put into getting a community event going.”
The Vanderhoof Learn to Run Program meets Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 6 p.m at Riverside Park.