Run for Fun fosters community, physical health

By Jacqui Nguyen, Contributing Writer

With the ongoing pandemic halting many of the in-person events around campus, students have had to find a way to work around not gathering in large numbers. One recurring event that has done this is the Run for Fun: Virtual Run. Fitness Health Educator at McKinley Health Center Felicia Fordyce leads this virtual running group every Monday, Wednesday and Friday by providing resources for runners of all levels to build endurance, increase stamina and stay healthy.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, Fordyce was in charge of organizing the Couch to 5k program. Participants of this program would typically meet in front of the McKinley Health Center and run together as a group every spring. With the COVID-19 outbreak though, the Couch to 5k program was cut short. However, Fordyce wanted to continue providing her runners with resources to stay active and still participate in some way. 

“I was looking for ways we could incorporate the same ideas, so I decided to put together a virtual running group where I still provide the workouts and give tips and tricks on how to properly warm up and cool down,” she said. 

To accommodate for the virtual nature of events this year, the group has created a GroupMe chat where runners can send daily updates of the runs that they go on or the workouts they do. Some send selfies during their workout while others send screenshots of their running distances. 

“People can post a picture of their run or a screenshot of how far they went or just anything to show that they went out today, and I think it helps us relate to each other on that level,” Fordyce said. 

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Even with this initiative taking place virtually this semester, runners still follow the same running schedule. To begin their workouts, runners warm up with a brisk walk and then transition into their workout for the day. Usually, the workouts consist of interval runs where runners jog for a set amount of time then walk for another set of time. According to Fordyce, this allows participants to slowly build up their endurance. 

However, having the Run for Fun events virtually has presented some challenges. Since runners are unable to run together this year, it has become more difficult to build a team environment. Around this time in the season, runners are finding their mile times by tracking how far they can run in nine-minute intervals.

“If we were in person, we would be doing this together,” Fordyce said. “I think it’s always easier running or working out with a partner because you can push each other a little further.”

Without people to run with, it has become more challenging for some people to push themselves further. Fordyce utilizes GroupMe to help runners stay engaged in their runs and feel more connected to other runners.

“It’s been a lot harder to engage with people in general with not being in person, so I’m trying to encourage people to participate as much as they feel comfortable doing to build morale and keep everyone connected as well,” Fordyce said.

Despite the challenges of transitioning to a virtual environment, the Run for Fun still offers runners a community of people who are passionate about running and maintaining their health. Fordyce continues to foster connections within this group.

“You get a group of peers who, like you, enjoy running or want to get into running,” she said. “It’s a supportive community where everyone builds each other up and pushes each other to do a little better and go a little further.” 

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