By Heather Killen
A Tupperville woman has quite a crowd following in her footsteps these days.
Louise LeDuc says she’s been running on her own for about 30 years and is happy to have some company. These days about 50 people are keeping pace with a running program that she and her husband John started three years ago.
This 12-week Learn to Run Workshop is designed to step-by-step help people develop the ability to run a five-kilometer route. It’s a safe and gradual program that is set to the individual’s pace, but offers the support of a group.
“You should be running at a pace that allows you to talk,” she said. “The idea of no pain, no gain isn’t the best way to exercise. There shouldn’t be any pain and it’s better to start off gradually and allow your body time to adapt.”
The first year she offered the program, about 14 people showed up. Last year the number grew to 20 runners. This year about 50 people have been turning up for the weekly runs led by the LeDucs.
The group meets in Bridgetown on Monday and Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings. They come from Round Hill, Lawrencetown, Tupperville, Centerlea, St. Croix and Hampton. And while they stay together, each runs at their own comfortable pace.
“My husband and I wanted to make the program gradual,” she said. “I wanted to share my love of running with others. It’s a healthy activity and helps create a healthy life.”
At first it may seem like an impossible idea to run five kilometers, but step by step, people of all ages, shapes and sizes in Bridgetown are proving it can be done, she says. There’s no charge to join the program, although they are collecting freewill donations and so far, the program has raised over $500 for the Bridgetown Area Library.
The program begins with short mixed intervals of walking and jogging, each runner going at a pace that is comfortable and appropriate to personal condition. Little by little the running intervals are increased and after 12 weeks there is a graduation.
She added that some of her graduates return each year and this year’s group is a mixture of new and familiar faces. The group meets three times a week and in between, she sends emails to encourage everyone and keep them on track.
Running improves physical condition, but also offers other benefits such as stress reduction, weight loss, feelings of well-being and increased stamina.
“Running can transform your life,” she said. “Physically and mentally, it’s a stress reliever, it’s a great way to lose weight and as you set goals and achieve them, you build self esteem. You become a stronger person all around because you are doing something you never thought you could do.”
Most people are stronger than they think, she added, and whenever a person works towards a goal, it’s an inspiration to other people.
“It plants a seed,” she said. “When other people see you run, they think I bet I can do that. It inspires people.”
The Learn to Run group meets in Bridgetown on Monday and Thursday evenings at 6 p.m. and on Saturdays at 10 a.m. in front of the Bridgetown and Area Library.