Developing the habit of exercising daily is not a priority for most people, as is evidenced by our national obesity rate. Some cite the lack of time, others don’t know where to begin, and the rest of us don’t have the motivation to do anything about it. It couldn’t be from the lack of knowledge or awareness that a sedentary lifestyle is the highest risk factor for developing physical problems that keeps our seats firmly planted on our sofas, or at our computers.
When I first started exercising regularly, I found that having someone to share the experience with was the key to my sticking with it. Going to an aerobics class with a group of my girlfriends, proved to be just what I needed to motivate me. We moaned and groaned in unison. We laughed and danced our way to a healthier more toned body. The best benefit of it all, at least to us, was the camaraderie. We left that class feeling energized and ready to face the day. We burned calories and our elevated metabolism lasted for hours after we finished the workout. We stayed slim and trim, too.
I’ve been thinking that maybe those of us who are physically active need to mentor someone. We can get them started, and give them the tools that will keep them going; mainly the tool of learning to love exercise. When I was running, I didn’t particularly love the way I felt while doing it, but I surely did love how I felt afterward. I had a feeling of accomplishment. I knew I had burned off at least one meal, so I didn’t have to be so concerned about how much I ate.
There is a group of dedicated exercise enthusiasts who are mentoring lots of folks in our city of Kingsport, Tennessee. Each year, the State of Franklin Track Club leads a group of beginning walkers/runners in a progressive training program, in preparation for the Crazy 8’s Road Race and the Eastman Rd. Race. The Crazy 8’s events, including the 8k race, the 3K Neil’s Walk, and the Little 8’s, Special 8s, and Crazy Mile are part of Fun Fest. These events drew 3,500 participants last year, and are expected to increase in numbers this year, with about that many people on the sidelines cheering them on.
Hank Brown started the training program in the early 1990’s. He wrote the program, which the track club still uses. He has mentored many beginning and wanna be runners over the past twenty or so years. For years, he has organized and overseen the Crazy 8’s events. Now he owns the events, which has garnered several prestigious awards. The road race features former Olympians, and runners from all over the world, including Kenya and Ethiopia. It is a thrill to see these runners in motion. You have to watch in fast-forward, otherwise you will miss them. These elite runners appear to glide effortlessly along the road, barely breathing hard.
Neil’s Walk is a 3k health walk, in memory of Neil Danehy. This event raises a significant amount of money for the Neil Danehy heart foundation. All of the money from this benefit remains in the Tri-Cities area.
Having been a member of The State of Franklin Track Club, I know Hank. I have been an eye-witness as his vision became reality. He had lots of help along the way. People like Al Kress, Sam Culbertson, Tandy Fleming, Ernie Dickson, Bob Townsend, Janice Hicks, Harriet Locke, Frank Kibler, and many other SFTC members who supported the track club, ran the races, and mentored runners throughout the years. These folks are still very active participants in the club.
It might seem to you that I went off on a wild goose chase with this article, but I can assure you that I didn’t. The reason I have mentioned Hank, and these other dedicated runners, is to show, by example, how one person started by mentoring one other person, and grew that day-by-day, year-by-year into an international event. Think of the lives and bodies that have been changed as a result of their efforts.
They would probably tell you that they were just doing what they love, and that’s true, but it is their eagerness to share this healthy lifestyle, so that others can experience the benefits. That is the real running force behind it!
You can buddy up with someone and set them on a path to a healthier lifestyle, and a better quality of life. You can make a difference, just like these runners have. It doesn’t have to be running. It can be any kind of regular exercise. When you do this, you will find that sticking to your own program is a lot easier, and more fun.
This years events take place on July 11th, so if you would like to participate, log on to the Crazy 8’s web site to register.
Another story about being a mentor, Homespun Highlights