Whether you want to build new friendships or build up strength, improve your health or improve your finish time, gain some experience or gain some confidence: In the long run, it’s always good to have a plan.
That’s why 65 students, faculty and staff joined the Bridge Run Training Program that Campus Recreation Services offered this year. The free, self-paced 10K training program has more than doubled in size since it was introduced last year, when 30 participants successfully ran the Cooper River Bridge Run.
This year’s participants have been following their training plans since the end of January, when they were given a fitness test and individualized training plans based on their running experience, fitness levels and overall goals. There are three tracks to the training — beginner, intermediate and advanced — with most falling somewhere between beginner and intermediate. From there — aside from a few group runs — most of the actual training was up to the participants themselves.
“Just having that training plan is what people find the most helpful,” says Bucky Buchanan ’08, assistant director of fitness with Campus Recreation Services and director of the Bridge Run Training Program. “It doesn’t matter how much of a runner you are, when you’re training, it’s different from just going out for a run. You have to think things through, build up your mileage slowly and carefully so that you avoid getting hurt, but you’re still pushing yourself. That programming is the most crucial piece of what we offer.”
The program also offers participants ongoing access to coaches for questions, concerns or a little advice. That’s in addition to the expert guidance and helpful information about injury prevention, nutrition, setting goals, motivation and race-day logistics disseminated through weekly emails.
“There’s a lot of information packed into those emails, and they can just pick and choose from whatever they feel is most applicable,” says senior exercise science major Sara Paris, who was tasked with putting together the program and gathering information as part of her School of Education, Health and Human Performance internship. “Now that I’m doing this, I can look back and see how all the things I’ve studied over the past four years are tied together: I’m using everything I’ve learned, even as a freshman in those intro classes. It’s all coming together.”
This kind of applied knowledge is important in helping students reach their goals.
“Hands-on experiences that are applicable in the real world are important for any student, but especially for public health and exercise science majors,” says Wes Dudgeon, chair of the Department of Health and Human Performance. “It’s crucial that they get this kind of practical experience – a kind of trial run.”
Trial runs are important for runners, too, and – now with plenty of practice for the real thing – the participants in the training program are ready to accomplish their goals, whatever they may be.
For health and human performance assistant professors Kate Pfile, Michelle McLeod and Leslie Hart, this Saturday’s Cooper River Bridge Run is part of their larger goal of running one charitable road race a month this year. For one student, it’s about pushing herself to become more social. For Aron Kuch ’02, associate director of marketing data analysis in the Office of Admissions, it’s to cut more than a minute off of his previous time in the Cooper River Bridge Run.
“My goal has been a moving target,” says Kuch, adding that what he has learned from the training group has been helpful. “It got me some new exercises to provide some variety. I guess we’ll know on the 1st how it does in helping with the goals.”
Not to worry: The participants in the Bridge Run Training Program are well prepared to accomplish their goals this Saturday. It’s all part of the plan.