PARKERSBURG - More than 200 people gathered Tuesday at City Park for the kick-off of the River City Runners & Walkers Club's beginners clinic, a 10-week program designed to get people off the couch and on the road.
The clinic is celebrating its 25th year in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
"Every year it gets a little bigger," said program director Melissa Wigal. "Our goal is to keep people motivated and work them up to 5K, or 3.1 miles."
Photo by Natalee Seely
Walkers and runners register Tuesday for the beginners clinic at City Park.
The clinic will be held for 10 consecutive Tuesdays through June 5 and is open to people of all fitness levels. The program features guest speakers, who will talk about everything from proper walking and running shoes and nutrition to stretching and joint and muscle health, said Wigal.
Last year more than 300 people signed up and successfully completed a 5K at the end of the program.
"Most people find that getting in shape in a group setting really increases motivation," she said.
"We start slowly and build up people's endurance, and some of them continue with the half-marathon training after the clinic."
Debbie Spears heads up the walking group, which has been part of the clinic for five years.
"There are so many benefits to walking, which is a lower impact sport. Walking puts less stress on the joints, but it has the same health benefits of running," said Spears. "It builds endurance, lowers cholesterol, and just increases overall health."
The clinic offers a support system that keeps participants motivated, she said.
"I've had people start out in the clinic who can barely walk a quarter of a mile, and by the end they are walking three miles with no problems," said Spears. "And when we're walking in the park, there are people who set up every quarter mile to cheer on the walkers and runners and keep their spirits up."
Candy Jones registered for the clinic Tuesday with a friend. It is her second walking clinic.
"I attended the clinic last year just as a way to get out of the house, and I really loved it," said Jones. "Now I'm a member of the club and I've done four 5Ks this year. My goal is to walk in the Parkersburg News & Sentinel Half Marathon this summer."
Since she started walking, Jones has noticed many health benefits, including less knee pain and higher energy.
"There's really nothing better than working out with friends," she said. "They keep you moving."
The fee for the 10-week program is $12 and includes a training schedule and a River City Runners & Walkers Club membership through Dec. 31.
Interested persons can sign up online at www.rivercityrunners&walkers.com.