The following article about getting fit for racing season was written by Foundation president Shari Landry and published in the Culpeper Times on April 11, 2019. The article is also available on

Spring has arrived.  Thank goodness for longer days and warmer temperatures.   It’s amazing what a little warm weather and sunshine can do to lift your spirits.

Spring also kicks off the racing season for runners and walkers.  Our local athletes are fortunate to have slews of nearby 5k races to join, many that also raise funds to benefit causes important to our community.  In addition to that our local races offer spectacular views, tours of wineries, post-race wine tastings, yoga classes and more.

Last Thanksgiving my daughter visited from New York City and ran in the 1st annual Turkey Trot at Powell Wellness Center.  It was a great event and I was so proud of her for rising to the challenge as running isn’t something she does very often.  Caught up in the moment, I promised her that I’d run with her in 2019. I’m not quite sure what I was thinking as I’ve never been a runner.  Maybe she’ll forget…

Just in case she doesn’t I asked Sarah Mahoney, a personal trainer and fitness instructor, for some advice for first time race participants like me.  She suggested, “First, check with your doctor to make sure you don’t have any health issues that would prohibit participation. Depending on your level of fitness and your race goals, give yourself at least 6-10 weeks to get race-ready, whether you plan on running or walking the race.” Sarah also shared the following tips for a great 5k experience:

Assemble a support team.  Consider partnering with friends or a personal trainer to make your experience less intimidating and more rewarding. Any beginner is likely to have doubts and a support team can provide encouragement and hold you accountable as you prepare for the race.

Plan your training. If you’d like to run the race, start by walking briskly for 30 minutes several times a week. Then progress to run/walking combinations; for example, walk 3 minutes and run 1 minute several times for a total of 30 minutes. Gradually run more, and walk less, until you can run longer than you are walking. Walk briskly but run at an easy pace. When you feel stronger and more comfortable, slowly increase your running speed.

If your preference is to walk the race, you can choose to follow a similar training routine, gradually adding to the length of time you walk. Start with 10, 20, or 30 minutes of walking depending on your fitness level and gradually add more time. You might also alternate brisk walking with easy walking. Continue to add time until you can walk for about an hour (approximately how long it takes most people to walk a 5K at 20 minutes per mile).

Try not to overdo it. Don’t do too much, too soon – that’s the main reason people either quit training altogether or get injured. Slow and steady wins the race!

Enjoy the benefits. Any first steps toward regular physical activity and aerobic exercise reap a host of benefits, such as improved heart health, reduced stress, more energy, and a better sense of well-being. So, lace up those sneakers and get started!