The No Boundaries Training Program offers beginning runners the platform to change everything and train for a 5K. Many participants join without having run before; some join because they have not run in a very long time. The Spring 2014 group encompassed a wide variety of experiences and motivations. The group members achieved countless goals over the 12 week program, and not all were running related. Led by a dedicated, passionate coaching staff, the 2014 No Boundaries members proved to be strong, motivated, and diligent. They were, as Coach Julia so often referred, “warriors.”
Training began in the fierce extended winter, when jackets and pants still proved necessary. Cold-weather running can be challenging, and starting a training program brings its own challenges as well. Still, the warriors of No Boundaries committed to toughing it out and began the journey towards a 5K.
Early on, Coach Barb explained “Look to the person on your right, then on your left. They’re going to be great training buddies.” Following prudent advice, many training bonds formed among the members of the program. Some members were able to meet and motivate each other on non-group run days to complete their workouts. I immediately noticed how the group grew stronger from each other. I marveled at the way they pushed each other to be better.
Soon after the program started, Fleet Feet hosted a shop night for the training program members. We went through a variety of recommended options to improve their experience, and we were able to equip many members for their training.
Throughout the program, the group enjoyed guest speakers, local experts in a variety of fields to contribute additional information to meet their training needs. To start us off, Jess Hyland, our New Balance tech rep and avid No Boundaries supporter led the group in a Good Form Running clinic. Then, dieticians Lisa Staas-Houser and Lynne Nugent visited to offer nutrition advice, especially concerning post-workout fueling. A few weeks after, Physical Therapist Chris Keating from Strive Physical Therapy and Sports Rehabilitation spoke to the group about injury prevention and recovery. Thank you to each guest speaker who joined us and provided valuable insight!
The warriors had an opportunity to celebrate the halfway point of their training on the sixth Saturday workout. Up to over 2 miles at that point, it was a good chance to look back at what they did, and what was left to do. Jess from New Balance provided post-run treats (greek yogurt, almonds, apricots, and a honey drizzle…cue mouth-watering).
From that week, training grew in intensity and duration, but I knew the strength of the group would be more than enough to overcome the forthcoming challenges. As June began, our members hit some weather transitions. Now, the summer heat and humidity became a major factor in training preparation. Our coaches preached good hydration habits and Fleet Feet offered guidance for the best warm-weather gear and hydration essentials. I’ve always felt that humidity can break down a runner faster and more severely than rain, cold, or wind. It’s a battle against the elements. Yet, once again, the No Boundaries runners proved to be warriors and continued training through difficult conditions.
The program maxed out at a 3.5 mile workout in preparation for the 5K goal race. I remember how proud the coaches felt after the run was complete. Many participants pushed themselves beyond what they had ever considered doing before the program and did so very successfully. Along the way, some members fought through aches, pains, or more serious injuries, but their resilience was admirable. With the Marlton Mayor’s Cup around the corner, they were ready.
The 4th of July holiday brings with it the great annual Marlton tradition that is the Mayor’s Cup 5K race, parade, and fireworks later in the day. Fleet Feet aims each Spring No Boundaries program towards the morning race. It provides a great in-town event and a fun, festive atmosphere. Perfect for the warriors. The forecast predicted rain and less-than-ideal conditions, causing some last minute changes in the day’s programming. The race continued on though, rain or shine, and the No Boundaries runners showed up all the same.
The day of the race defied forecasts and lent beautiful running conditions. The morning felt cooler than many previous mornings, overcast and breezy. The rain held off for the most part, save for a few drops during the race. The warriors toed the line and set off on the climactic run of the program, the 5K race. Coaches worked on pacing with some of the members and offered encouragement along the way for everyone.
We watched fantastic results unfold. Everyone finished, taking in the sights and sounds of the race atmosphere and enjoying the experience. I saw many happy, tired faces after the race, and enjoyed soaking in the moment with the participants. They accomplished so much throughout the program. The coaches created a phenomenal camaraderie, and the members took off with it and made this a wildly successful training program.
Following the race, members eagerly continue to meet at the store on Thursdays and Saturdays. One of the participants threw a fantastic after-party and barbecue at her house that many of us enjoyed. The coaches hosted a graduation ceremony to celebrate the program, with certificates and swag from New Balance. I look forward to continuing the traditions!
On behalf of the owners, staff, and coaches at Fleet Feet Marlton, I wish to congratulate each and every member on their achievements. May this be a step in a long journey of health, fitness, and happiness. ~Kyle