, Muskogee, OK

March 5, 2013

Get off the couch, get on the trails

Free group 5k training begins Saturday

By Lisa Wade Raasch
Get Healthy Muskogee

— Spring is nearly here and it’s time to get off the couch, put down the remote, lace up some running shoes and hit the trails for good health.

Do any of these responses sound familiar when asked about running?

“The only way you’ll catch me running is if I’m being chased by something big, fast and furry.”

“I’m too old/overweight/ injured to ever consider running.”

“I’ve been thinking about running, but am not really sure where to start.”

This Saturday, Muskogee Wellness Initiative seeks to support the potential runner in each of us by launching a free, guided Couch-to-5K training program on Muskogee trails and tracks. The eight-week program is designed for people interested in gradually and gently increasing the distance and time they are able to run, with the ultimate goal of completing a five-kilometer run in mid-May.

In collaboration with the Muskogee Running Club (, the Couch-to-5K program will offer four guided training runs each week at different locations throughout town. Participants may attend any or all of the weekly training opportunities.

The program is simple. During the first week, the group enjoys a five minute warm-up walk, then will jog for one minute, walk for 90 seconds and repeat that process eight more times before a five minute cool down. Do that simple routine three times the first week.

Each week the running duration gets a little longer. Participants gently build endurance and stamina and soon surprise themselves by running farther than they previously thought possible. The training session length varies by week, but typically lasts between 25–40 minutes.

Confession time: After buying a nice treadmill years ago (you know the kind that mysteriously morphs into a fancy clothes rack), I attempted the Couch-to-5K program at home by myself at least five times without completing it.

Then I participated in Muskogee Wellness Initiative’s first group Couch-to-5k training in early 2011. The combination of the accountability and fun of running with a group, getting sound and encouraging advice, and being outside on the trails, helped propel me to finally complete the training and to run my first 5k race.

As someone who formally would have responded “only when chased by something big, fast and furry” when asked if I run, through the group Couch-to-5K training I began to think of myself as someone who can run for health and even for fun.

The average 30 minutes a day, three days a week C25K training program fits the moderate physical activity recommendations to help improve and/or maintain fitness.

Join us and give it a try. It’s free. It’s low pressure. And, dare I say, it’s actually fun. Plus, you can explore the Muskogee trails with a group of other soon-to-be runners just starting out.

Saturdays at 8 a.m., beginning March 9: Centennial Trail Hatbox Loop at 34th Street and Arline Drive.

Mondays at 5:30 p.m., beginning March 11: Centennial Trail North beginning near Arby’s on north Main Street.

Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m., beginning March 12: Indian Bowl track at Alice Robertson Junior High, 402 North S Street.

Thursdays at 5:30 p.m., beginning March 14: Trail at Elliott Park. Meet in the parking lot at Sadler Arts Academy, 800 Altamont Street.

For more information, or to sign up for the C25K training, contact me at or at

In addition, Muskogee County Food & Fitness Initiative is promoting a “Walk, Run and Ride the Trail Week” from April 1–7. Events that week will help get more people acquainted with and active on Muskogee’s trail system. Stay tuned for more details, and check out our Facebook page and web site for the schedule of events. (www.MuskogeeWellness. org)

To get the trails looking their best before this week of activity, Doug Walton with the Food & Fitness Initiative is organizing a trail cleanup day on March 16, from 8 a.m. to noon. If you, your family, business, civic organization, or church group is interested in volunteering, please contact him at DougW@ or (918) 683-0321.

Put some spring in your step, do some good for your health and have some fun with us with the Couch-to-5k training beginning this Saturday on Muskogee’s trails.

Lisa Wade Raasch coordinates the City of Muskogee Wellness Initiative and directs the EOK Health Care Coalition.