Get off the sofa, join us

Published 1:04 am Saturday, October 20, 2012

I have the Coterie Club of Andalusia to thank for the pleasure I get each week from running.

I’d been a walker forever. But when my college roommate went through a running spell, I’d fancied myself joining her.

When we moved here. I filed the annual Coterie run in the back of my head and thought I’d set their annual 5K as a goal. A few years ago, I started training in time for their event, and soon I was hooked.

The walking path in Robinson Park is marked in tenth-mile increments. I would run one-tenth, then walk one-tenth, going ‘round and ‘round the pleasant circle. Eventually, I worked up to running two-tenths, then three. Pretty soon, I was ready for a 5K.

The trail at LBW is another good place to build stamina, and treadmills lend themselves well to alternating speeds. But what I love best is running in my neighborhood, an ipod distracting me from the physical effort at hand.

These days, I sometimes slack off during hectic weeks. Thankfully, Coterie’s isn’t the only run in the area anymore, so there are lots of events to keep me motivated. This year, a 5K trail run has been added at Frank Jackson park in Opp in November. In January, PowerSouth plans a Resolution 5K fundraiser for Relay for Life. There’s Opp’s Rattlesnake 5K, a Three Notch Market run, Florala’s 24th of June run, and the Andalusia Ballet’s Hottest Race in Town. Ollie’s Army also added a 5K fundraiser this year, and others pop up from time to time.

As I count them, that’s at least nine annual events, and you’d be amazed how many runners show up for the Rattlesnake 5K and the Alligator Trot. It’s the hottest, but before the Trail Run was added in Opp, Florala had the corner on the prettiest run – you can see the lake almost every step of the way.

I rarely exercise at the same time on any two days, so I don’t have a partner. But I’ve gotten to know a lot of people better by participating. I always look forward to visiting with Monte Russell, Stephanie and Perry

Dillard, Jed Blackwell, Katie O’Neal, members of the super-fast Burkhardt family, Mike Jones, Jerry and Cindy Howard, and Lisa Locklier. I got to know AES counselor Angela Sims when we ran at about the same pace last January. And as tall as he is, I often am in pace with Tex Powell.

Participating is a great way to support good causes, as well as promote health and fitness. In a state with terrifyingly high levels of obesity and obesity-related illnesses, we should encourage lots more people to participate.

If you’re not a runner, each of these events welcomes walkers, even slow ones. I challenge anyone who wants to be in better shape to set him or herself a goal of completing one of them.

Google “couch potato to 5K” and join us soon. You’ll be so glad you did.