Judy Brocato

Coach to 5K and Beyond

“My wife just finished a Couch to 5K Program.” Those were the words of a coworker that greeted me one morning and would change my life. I laughed because I thought that it sounded funny, and we proceeded to talk about how such a program worked. I was still skeptical: my friend had tried for some time to convince me to try running, and I had on multiple occasions told him how much I hated it. I never considered myself particularly athletic – I preferred reading and other sedentary activities in my teen years and into young adulthood. My only experience with running was in high school when it was time for the President’s Physical Fitness Test. We were told to run a certain distance, usually marked out, as fast as we could. We were never taught how to run, just to do it. Needless to say, all of that convinced me that running was to be despised and avoided at all costs. In recent years, I had been looking for the fastest, most efficient way to blast off 20 or so pounds from my frame. I had read running was the ticket, but since I hated it so much, that was never going to happen. My friend at work finally convinced me with his wife’s success at C25K to just try it. Only 30 minutes a day and even less time running. Download any C25K that you like to your phone; it tells you what to do, he said. I found a program that I thought I could like and went to the Shoe Carnival on my way home to pick up my first pair of running shoes. I wasn’t looking for anything fancy or expensive, since I figured they just might wind up in my closet. I lucked out with a bright green pair of Saucony Hybrid 3’s, and I’ve been a Saucony girl ever since! The first day out with Gul Panang of First Running instructing me and encouraging me in my ear, I thought – I must be nuts. I really do not like this! But, I didn’t want to give up so easily because I felt I had to prove to my coworker that I too could do C25K. It took a full 4 weeks of reluctant commitment for me to realize that I did in fact feel much better and more energetic when I ran than when I didn’t. It’s like a switch was flipped, and I began to look forward to the rest of the days and weeks in the program. Gladly, distance was not important in my C25K program, only running for the designated amount of time for the session, so I was training more for endurance and longevity than for a particular distance. That was 2015 and the rest, as they say, is history. I did my first 5k race at the end of 2015 and began training for a 10k. To walk the Crescent City Classic was on my sister-in-law’s bucket list, and since I was a new and aspiring runner, I was basically trapped into training for it. After all, how can you refuse what is on someone’s bucket list???

I have done a second 10k since then and multiple 5k and 2 mile races. I’ll never break tape and will likely never place high in my age group, but I have never not finished and never came in dead last. My time has improved with experience, though I would still like to improve on that. I don’t always train like I should, but I still get out there and do the best I can. It’s a great feeling when you do cross that finish line, have your name called out, and a medal squeezed into your hand! I am very happy that my dear friend and truly awesome runner, Jill Marie Kenyon, has partnered up with Rick Montgomery to bring you FitCal365, which promises to deliver a full calendar of local events to choose from, as well as an endless supply of advice and encouragement to aid in your own running journey, wherever it takes you!

My running heroes are those for whom walking or running should be difficult but walk or run anyway, like Derek Mitchell who started walking 5k’s to assist in losing weight largely put on by a tumor and now runs them, and Gilmore Wheeler, a 66 year old stroke victim who walked half of the Crescent City Classic but wanted to complete it all. Their tenacity and determination inspires me to do my best when I lace up my shoes. You will make new friends and look forward to seeing them at weekend races.

I will leave you with this mantra (compliments of The Running Bug on Facebook) as you find your own C25K program and beginner running shoes: We have nothing to lose and a world to see! So, be a little Poco Loco yourself and give running a try![author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Judy Brocato is a career paralegal in New Orleans. She lives on the Westbank in Gretna. She is married, has 2 grown children who live in Lafayette, takes care of one granddog and several cats who visit her porch. She is also the organist/pianist at her church. She started running 3 years ago at age 56 to somewhat appease her then-coworker (and good friend) Jason, but grew to love how the sport felt to her body. Three years later and more than a few road races under her belt (and now nearly 60!), she looks for opportunities to continue to challenge herself in this new sport. When not running or working, Judy also enjoys knitting, tracing her genealogy on Ancestry, and traveling with her husband.[/author_info] [/author]

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