To Shayla Holtkamp, the reasons people take part in her half marathon training program don’t matter.
The fact they are taking the first step does.
Holtkamp, who works for the Columbus Regional Hospital Wellness Program, said she has taught the series of running classes for 14 years. The annual program, “Pace for the Race,” begins again at 7:30 a.m. Saturday in the CRH Kroot Auditorium.
The program aims at preparing runners for the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon in Louisville on April 27 and the OneAmerica 500 Festival half marathon in Indianapolis on May 4. Both races are 13.1 miles.
Holtkamp, who has a degree in exercise science and a master’s degree in public health, said the program is more than just doing prep work for a half marathon.
“I have had people who wanted to learn how to run more miles,” Holtkamp said. “There are people who aren’t going to run, but they will walk. There are people who have running a half marathon on their bucket list. Some maybe haven’t run a mile. Then there are people who have run a number of half marathons who liked this so they come back to the program.”
The 15-class series educates runners and walkers with classroom instruction in the early meetings with running to follow. As the series progresses, the class time gets shorter and the runs get longer.
People can sign up for the program by calling 376-2680 or online at www.columbusparks andrec.com. The cost for the program is $55.
“They are going to be running, or walking, on Saturday,” Holtkamp said of those who take the program. “They will only do two miles. Each week we will increase the miles.”
Holtkamp has set up guest speakers, such as Columbus resident Danny Fisher, who is an accomplished distance runner.
“Danny is incredible,” Holtkamp said.
Other guests will cover all aspects of running along with health issues and equipment. In one session, The Runners’ Forum will talk about the right kind of shoes for each individual.
“These guys know their stuff,” Holtkamp said. “They let everyone try on different shoes.”
She said that runners who have taken the program before don’t necessarily want to hear all the instruction again. She said they just want company and a good run.
“For people who haven’t done it (run long distance), it is good to learn about doing it,” she said. “We work out a training program that each runner or walker will do. We will talk about nutrition and injuries, knee issues, about how to pick a running shoe. Danny Fisher will talk about core essentials and strengthening your body. He is a running coach.
“People who can barely run one mile will all of a sudden get up to 12 miles. It is a good education.”
As the program progresses, there will be very limited time meeting before the run starts. “When we get up to 10 miles, that can take a while,” she said.
Although some people might be intimidated by taking that first step, Holtkamp stressed that everyone is welcome. “I would never tell anyone to go out and run three miles,” she said. “If they haven’t done anything before, we have group leaders who will take them and do a run, or a walk.
“We have larger gals who might not want to do a half marathon, but they want to get healthier. I have group leaders who are awesome with that. Everyone who comes feels very welcome.”
Participants fill out a medical waiver, and Holtkamp and fellow coach Pat Pierce look the form over to check for high blood pressure or any medication that might be taken. The participant might be asked to make sure his or her doctor is aware he or she is undertaking the activity.
Some of Holtkamp’s group leaders have participated in the seminar for years.
“But this is not designed for those who have been running for years,” she said. “Most of our runners have done some running and want to learn a little bit more.”
At the end of the clinic, there are several triumphs each year. “It is so awesome to see,” Holtkamp said. “And this is not just running. There is a whole social part of it.”