Wellness Program STIRs Staff
Members of the STIR group prepare for the culminating 5k run. – VMI Photo by John Robertson IV.
LEXINGTON, Va., May 23, 2012 – One element of VMI’s wellness program is effectively integrating running into the routines of participants.
Members of the Steps to Integrate Running, or STIR, group have been training twice a week to build their running skills. That training culminated in a 5k run on May 18.
“It’s been just about four months of training,” said Maj. Pieter deHart, assistant professor of biology, who coached the group. “We started with short running sessions interspersed with walking, and we slowly built in more running.”
Seven members of the VMI community took part in the 5k: Anita Cruze, Accacia Flanagan, Peggy Herring, Terry Manuel, Traci Mierzwa, Jennifer Pooley, and Justin Spears.
“I have never been a runner,” said Jennifer Pooley, payroll accountant. “It’s been tough. When we started running two minutes at a time, I said ‘I can’t run for two minutes’, but here we are now running 3.1 miles.”
Fueling that improved physical performance is the mindset that the group maintains.
“What I see as the biggest turnaround is the mental toughness to get them through the run,” said deHart. “A lot of them didn’t think they could do a 5k, but now they’re going through it.”
Maintaining that confidence and ability is central to the STIR program.
“My wish is for this to become part of their lives,” said deHart “Now they know that they can do it if they want to sign up for a community 5k later on.”
Members of the STIR group are looking to keep running on their own.
“We’re going to try to keep this little group together,” said Pooley. “We’re thinking about meeting at lunch time and doing a 5k in Waynesboro.”
Having made a habit of running, members of the group are finding that the running bug is contagious.
“This has made my whole family want to do it,” said Pooley. “It’s addictive.”
– John Robertson IV