LOGANSPORT — Facing the still dark morning skies, a group of runners limbers up for a run from the Cass County YMCA down East Market Street.
As they ran to Pizza Hut, Mall Road or Yorktown Road, depending on their running ability, the runners worked to increase their mileage and endurance as part of the YMCA’s Running Club. In its last week, the eight-week class helps beginning runners increase their distance and eventually run a 5K by the end of the class.
Shelly Crozier, the instructor, said the class started out with 40 participants, many of whom ran one block and walked two. But that changed as the runners gradually improved.
“As the weeks progressed, we just started lengthening our distance,” Crozier said.
Crozier said she wanted to teach a course to help beginning runners get into the habit of running so they could lead overall healthier lives.
“I love helping people feel better about themselves,” she said.
At the beginning of the three-day-a-week course, Crozier also educated participants on runner necessities like breathing, shoe fit and nutrition.
Jessica Crowder, wellness director at the YMCA, said this class fits in with the center’s goal of helping everyone get to a healthy state.
“We’re trying to reach out to those people who want to become healthier, not just those who are already healthy,” Crowder said.
Crozier said many of the participants had bonded and found a running partner to motivate them.
Sally Young has been running since the beginning of the course with her friend, Valerie Young. Though Sally’s goal was to get in better shape, she said the class had converted her to a long-term runner.
“I’ve never been a runner,” Young said. “But that’s changed.”
At the beginning of the class, Sally said she was running two miles and walking one. But Monday morning, as she and Valerie returned from their run to Pizza Hut and back, they both completed four miles.
Sally and Valerie have also already completed one 5K and plan to run two more in August and September.
Similarly, Shawn McLochlin said he joined the class as a first-time runner. Now that he’s caught the running bug, he hopes to keep running so that he can stay in shape to play with his children.
“I’d like to be able to run with them and play with them,” McLochlin said.
To motivate the runners during the class, Crozier said she tried to run alongside each one and offer words of encouragement. After the run, Crozier often texts the runners and congratulates them on their work that day.
“Texting is an easy way to keep them motivated,” Crozier said.
And as the class comes to a close, Crozier says she hopes the runners will continue the sport, not only for exercise, but also as a stress-reliever.
“People work so much,” Crozier said. “They don’t do nearly enough for themselves.”
• Caitlin Huston is a staff reporter of the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5148 or firstname.lastname@example.org.