Females of all ages who are ready to get off the couch and get moving as well as experienced walkers and runners who want to improve their pace are now signing up for the free Russellville Women Can Run” (WCR) walking and running clinic. With 527 registrants in 2018, the “Runnersville” program, as it’s commonly called, has earned a reputation for providing an uplifting and fun environment for girls and ladies of all fitness levels and ages. According to the latest database reports, registrants for the 2019 training currently range in age from 7 to 77.

One of the things that moms enjoy about this program is that they can join with their daughter in a common goal, even if their daughter is quite young. Runnersville’s Junior Walker/Runner group, also known as the “Wonder Girls,” is designed specifically for girls in 1st through 6th grades. This group provides girls a positive experience with walking, run-walking, running and physical fitness, in general, as well as boosts confidence. Leaders keep in mind the girls’ shorter attention spans and engage them with a variety of activities that prepare them for the graduation 5K event and a lifetime of wellness.

Clinic leaders stress that the Junior Walker/Runner group is not a drop-off program. Each girl’s mother or other guardian-authorized adult chaperone must remain on site during and is encouraged to sign up for one of the other training groups geared more towards adults, which include:

  • Walker Group A: Participants train to walk up to 3.1 miles walking at their own steady pace.
  • Walker Group B: Participants train to walk up to 3.1 miles using slow-fast intervals. The duration of the fast walking intervals increases weekly, improving their pace.
  • Beginner Runner Group A: Participants do not currently run but have a goal to train to walk-run up to 3.1 miles, whereby they primarily run but take regular walk breaks.
  • Beginner Runner Group B: Participants currently run, but no more than three minutes at a time before needing a walk break. Their goal is to train to complete 3.1 miles running with no or minimal walk breaks.

The sense of community and belonging created by the Runnersville program is truly unique. “Three years ago, Runnersville took a tired momma struggling to find confidence and turned her into a strong, capable runner full of excitement,” said Sara Tosch, describing her experience. “What started as a journey to lose the baby weight turned into health, both physical and mental.” She added, “Runnersville is so much more than walking, running, and races. It truly can impact your life and your heart if you are looking for other women to do life with.” Tosch is now the head coach for the Beginner Runner B, or “Brave Beauties,” group.

Of course, an added benefit of community is accountability. “At Runnersville, I will do things I won’t do on my own,” said Cathy Canitz, a participant and volunteer helper. “There is always someone there cheering you on, and everyone is very supporting and encouraging. The ladies really do care about you.”

Dates and Times

Runnersville will launch the year with an informal, drop-in orientation on Saturday, February 23, from 10 till noon. It will be held at Russellville’s Upper Elementary 5th Grade (UE5G) school cafeteria. All participants are encouraged to attend to receive important information and coupons, meet their coaches and have an opportunity to order an “Everything’s Funner in Runnersville” shirt, which is optional. New participants and those who want to know more about our Junior Walker/Runner group are encouraged to be present at 11 a.m., when we will have a short, sit-down informal introduction and question-and-answer time.

Training groups meet Saturday mornings and Wednesday evenings at Russellville High School Cyclone Stadium. If there’s a scheduling conflict with a school event, an alternate location will be announced.

The first training session will be held on Saturday morning, March 2. For the first two Saturday morning training sessions, we will have a “split schedule” to accommodate the large number of participants and minimize congestion on the track. The walker groups will start their training session at 8 a.m. All five groups will be present for announcements, door prize drawings, and a guest speaker time at 9 a.m. At the conclusion of this assembly at 9:30 a.m., runner groups will head to the track for training. The Junior Walker/Runner group will be available during both time slots.

Starting Saturday, March 16, all five training groups will meet at 9 a.m. for the speaker time and train at 9:30.

The training groups will also meet on Wednesday evening at 5:30 p.m. for 45 minutes of physical activity.

Interested ladies who have a scheduling conflict that would prohibit them from attending one of the weekly training sessions are still encouraged to take part. The program calls for participants to be at both training sessions and have one session of homework to do on their own or with a buddy on a weekly basis. Those who have to miss a training session simply need to plan for an extra homework session each week.

Tosch and 48 other volunteer coaches as well as Canitz along with 32 other helpers, and director Kim Head work side-by-side to host the local training program.

Graduation 5K Event

In May at the conclusion of the training period, there will be a graduation 5K event. Awards will be given for the top walker and runner finishers by age group. Each Runnersville participant who registers for and completes the 5K will receive a finisher’s medal as well as a race shirt. While there is a race entry fee, there are a number of scholarships available to regular attendees of the training program who have a financial need.

Online Registration Now Open

To sign up for the free training program online, go to womenrunarkansas.net, click the red CLICK HERE button, click Russellville, and fill out the brief form. There are a few screens of information to fill out and a confirmation screen to approve, but it only takes a few minutes. Registrants will receive a confirmation email. Periodically, they will then receive emails with updates about local training clinic news. To ensure that email messages don’t go to a “junk mail” or “spam” folder, registrants should add runnersville@suddenlink.net to their email address book.

Those who do not have internet access and would like to participate in the Runnersville training can sign up at the orientation session on February 23.

Find more information about the Russellville clinic on the “Women Run Russellville” Facebook page. To ask questions about the Russellville clinic, email runnersville@suddenlink.net or call Kim Head at (479) 264-7661.