One Foot in Front of the Other

Walking and Running For Fun & Fitness

by Derek Long


I love to run.  I always have.  I’ve never needed a whole lot of motivation to get out and go running.  It’s great exercise. I just like it.   I like the simplicity of it.  Just you and the open road or trail.  Out in the elements, embracing the heat and sweat, or cold and rain.  I like the heightened awareness of the sights and sounds around you. I get into the rhythmic cadence of my stride, and the Zen like quality of breathing in and breathing out.  I enjoy pushing my limits, challenging my endurance to go the distance.  And, after catching my breath, there’s the endorphin-activated sense of elation.  But that’s just me. 

If you’ve never been a runner or need more help getting started, many local running stores offer training programs that’ll get you going.

Brian White, owner of Fleet Feet Sports in Carrboro, says that a certain number of folks want to increase their performance, get stronger and run faster, “but most people just want to get off the couch and get moving.   So that's kind of where we come in with our training programs.”

Running stores like Fleet Feet offer a variety of programs from walkers just getting started to those going the distance of a marathon.  Runners meet twice a week, once on a weeknight and on Saturday.  “Then,” says Natalie Reder, former Director of Training programs at Fleet Feet, “you’re responsible for one or two more workouts on your own throughout the week that we don’t meet up on.”

Natalie says they’ve had people in their programs from ages 7 to 70. “Frequently the most common question that I am asked is, is there going to be someone like me.  Are you sure there's going to be someone at the same pace as me and frequently I have to say, yes. You are covered.

Finding others to identify with in the program was important to Tim Williams,” At one time I was 375 pounds.  Didn't want to do anything.  You don't like to get out.  I mean, be honest with you you're embarrassed to be out, and you're embarrassed to be running on the road.  You come to these programs you're going to find somebody that's just like you, and that's where it's huge.”

Mary Walter wasn’t about to let age get in her way, “You know I'm 66 years old so for me to take this up at this point was really kind of silly, except everybody's so encouraging to you that it doesn't matter if you can't do it the way everybody else can it's still fun.”

Not everyone finds the act of running necessarily a fun activity, but some like Betsy Giduz finds other benefits, “I don't like running per-say, but I love the feeling afterwards.”  You have to challenge and push yourself says Reder, “sometimes its just getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, that you're out of your comfort zone, but it's OK, because you're with a lot of other people who are in a similar situation as you.”

And it’s that community of runners that keeps Betsy Giduz lacing up her running shoes,

“I still can't say that I wake up excited about the running.  I wake up very, very excited about the social support and just how much fun we have.  To have this community of runners has been absolutely instrumental in keeping me running.  Keeping me motivated.” 


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