Yesterday was the first class of the "Learn to Run" program I teach at the local YMCA.
Stupid name. Great concept.
The structure of the training is to start participants out as a walk to run, then gradually phase out the walk. The end of the 12 week program is to have all participants run 30 minutes without stopping. A thought that is beyond their wildest dreams. This is why I love teaching this program. Watching people slowly realize that they can run more than one minute...two minutes...five minutes...fifteen and to see them when they cross the finish line of their first 5k is a feeling that I cannot explain. It is what makes me proud to be a runner.
There are 25 in the group and if HALF don't drop by week six, then that would be awesome. The problem of retention isn't the physical aspects, but keeping them motivated. In the beginning everyone is all excited, but once it starts getting hard (week six) they drop like flies. This year, I am trying something different and I hope it works.
At orientation I asked everyone to bring in a picture next week of something that represents why they are doing this program. What is their motivation? Kids? Wife? Father? This is what I am going to have them put in a place where they can see it everyday to remind them why they should stick with the program. On my way home, I started thinking of why do *I* do this? What is my motivation? Good freaking question.
Then I think back on the people I have met. My friends. They are my greatest cheerleaders. They are the people that believe in me, more than I believe in myself. The beginner runners are huge too. Seeing them work so hard to achieve their goals. My brother, Pat who passed away seven years ago. Finally, the woman I met last night in my group. She was last in the group and I started focusing on her. She told me she has M.S. and this (completing a 5k) is her goal. Wow.
That is what motivates me. Those who have the courage to try.