The Marathon Charity Cooperative in Arlington offers Walk--To-Run (WTR, sometimes known affectionately as Couch-To-5K) training throughout the year; three cycles of about seventeen weeks each. Its premise is simple enough: several weeks of walking, getting up to four miles distance, then the participants do a walk/run ratio that starts off at 1/4 (one minute of running to four minutes of walking) and finishes at the inverse ratio of 4/1.
The one requirement to complete the program (besides coming each Saturday, but that's pretty much voluntary) is to run/walk a 5K race. There are plenty of opportunities; as the program director, John, likes to say, "You can't swing a dead cat by the tail in DC on a weekend without hitting someone running a 5K race."
About a dozen aspirants started off in the program in January, and by late last month this had winnowed down to a hard core of about seven or eight, including the three coaches, John, Vandana and myself. One Saturday John proudly showed me the time of 35:37 frozen on his watch, his time from a twilight 5K race the evening before, his best time in years. One participant ran both a 5K and an 8K, one trainee was working towards running a half marathon later this month and did a 5K early in the program in under 40 minutes, and four others including Vandana ran a 5K on the last Saturday of the program, mere hours before our celebratory ending banquet at a local diner. I ran a 5K in March which I detailed in my last post.
MCC as they are more in line with my preferences. Here is a picture of the dedicated small group of achievers on our penultimate run.