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Clinton Township

May 7, 2014

HAP ‘Couch to 5K’ run looks to inspire healthy choices

By Nick Mordowanec
C & G Staff Writer

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Health Alliance Plan (HAP) will soon be celebrating two races to help people get on their feet and moving toward a better lifestyle.

The “Couch to 5K Challenge” is an ambitious event that pushes participants to receive encouragement, camaraderie and technical information from fitness experts. Runners receive support from group practices, training plans and online team pages where participants can encourage each other, track their weekly progress and communicate with their coaches.

The first session is the Oak Apple Run in Royal Oak on May 31, and the second is in Detroit’s Palmer Park on September 13.

About 400 members participated in the inaugural run last year, so HAP decided to add an extra run this year to encourage even more participation and health consciousness.

“We’re always looking for ways for our members to get healthier,” said HAP Director of Worksite Wellness and Health Promotion, Terri Kachadurian. “It’s really geared towards anybody. ... It helps people at all levels and teaches them and trains them to run a 5k.

“It doesn’t exclude anyone. It’s literally a one-size-fits-all approach. Some people were truly sedentary who had trouble running 1-2 minutes at time, while there were people who run 5ks.”

The preparation for the first run kicked off April 1, which the HAP team thought was a good time for people to get outdoors and start moving.

Kachadurian said that a good two-thirds of adults in southeast Michigan are fairly sedentary, and although numbers haven’t actually increased in the present, the issue has persisted for a long time.

Clinton Township resident and HAP member Darlene Dove had bariatric surgery in 2007. She was overweight her entire life, trying year after year to lose 25 pounds, but she just put the weight back on in the end.

After the surgery, she looked and felt like a different person, eating smaller portions and being more active. But as the years passed, she didn’t work out on a regular basis and started to put weight back on again.

That’s not to say that Dove isn’t active, though. She said she participated in various activities even at her heaviest weight. She found out about the HAP run and didn’t see any reasons why she wouldn’t train with free professionals.

“Running/walking has always been my biggest weakness,” Dove said. “All the years of being overweight, I was always able to do workout videos, but when I would try and take a long walk, it was like my legs were 1,000-pound weights. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Why can I do these workout videos and not walk around the block without feeling like I am dying?’

“I have to admit, I was a little nervous starting this training. You start off in small increments and work up. The first week of training (I had to) jog a minute, walk a minute for 20 minutes. Then, gradually, you work up to jog for eight minutes, walk for five minutes and jog for another eight minutes.”

When Dove started, she could barely jog one minute without stopping to catch her breath. She would look ahead at the schedule for the following week and wonder how she was going to jog three minutes, then five minutes.

But Dove felt herself getting stronger and stronger, which is the appeal of run such as this. According to Kachadurian, this people-connecting program concludes with positive stories.

From an engaged couple who wanted to lose weight for their wedding, to siblings and mother-daughter teams supporting each other, it shows that determination has positive outcomes.

“When you see that someone is successful, it helps you,” Kachadurian said.

For Dove, she now feels stronger and more empowered. She now knows different strategies and techniques for stretching and relieving soreness. The program has changed her mindset of what is possible.

“Just get started!” she said. “Try and do something that you would never think that you would like. You really amaze yourself on what you can accomplish.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Nick Mordowanec at nmordowanec@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1118.