On a chilly morning last weekend, the Hay River Road Runners Club — or a subset of them — met at Aurora College for their second run of the season.
“I would still be in bed if there was no running club,” said Sherry Ringuette. “My husband and I run together, but when it’s cold, we want to stay inside and snuggle.”
The group has seen various incarnations over the years, acquiring and shedding members from year to year and throughout the season, but organizer Jenn Touesnard said there is really something for everyone.
“I’ve been here six years and I’ve seen so many people doing their own thing,” she said. “Having a group to go with is so motivating and encouraging, no matter what level you’re at.”
Touesnard said this year there seems to be more experienced runners, so the flexible goal is primarily to train for a 10km run. Participants can take the runs at their own pace, something Touesnard actually encourages.
“It’s important to go slow and avoid injuries,” she said. “And you should never add more than 10 per cent more distance every week.”
While only three people turned out Sunday morning, Touesnard said there were about 10 for the very first run of the season on Thursday evening, despite somewhat inclement weather. She said while the cold puts some people off, the heat of the summer can be equally challenging when it gets too hot to run by mid-morning. Also, running in the relative cold also means no bugs.
“You have to understand the feelings you’re going to have when you’re running, especially if you’re a beginner, and know that there will be some pain, but that you can distract yourself from it,” she said. “Alternating walking and running at first is actually a better way to go, it tends to be more effective.”
The group is as inclusive as it can be, welcoming all levels of athletic ability, as well as all members of the family. If people have dogs who are trained to run on-leash they are more than welcome, as are children looking to get in shape for Track.
On top of meets every week, the club is also looking at organizing special events throughout the summer to hopefully encourage more people to break out their sneakers. Touesnard said that fun-runs on long weekends are in the works, perhaps for Aboriginal Day and Canada Day, with something larger in September.
“People either love running or hate it,” she said. “But it’s much easier to get going if you have other people around to help motivate you.”