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It all starts with a single step

Starting to train for a foot race is as easy as taking a first step. But for folks who are not used to distance running, that step can be a doozy.

That is where the Red Wing Family YMCA and Mayo Clinic Health System come in.

Starting this weekend, the two organizations will partner to introduce Get Ready to Ramble, a free nine-week fitness and nutrition program designed to prepare people of all skill levels to take part in the River City Ramble 5K and two-mile walk/run in August.

"This is something the YMCA and Mayo Clinic have partnered on to invest in the health of individuals in the community, as well as the health of the overall community," said Marcy Dowse, public affairs specialist for the Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing.

Dowse said program's goal is to help participants add the recommended 20-30 minutes of exercise to their daily routine and to introduce them to an exercise group -- one of the best motivators for fitness.

The program meets at Red Wing's Central Park for two hourlong sessions each week -- 5:30 p.m. Mondays and 7 a.m. Saturdays. Participants are encourage to attend one or both sessions depending on their schedule and goals.

Kathy Sheehan, athletic trainer for Mayo Clinic Health Systems, and Jenna Hughes, certified personal trainer with Red Wing Family YMCA, will host the sessions.

The trainers will split each session into two groups for walkers and runners.

The "First Steps" group is a beginning workout program for people just starting out, and will train participants to walk either the River City Ramble two-mile or 5K course.

"For some people, walking is just the best thing to do," Dowse said.

But for those looking for more intense training, the "Ready to Run" group will prepare participants to take on the challenge of running the full 5K course.

Dowse said it is advisable to contact a physician before starting the program to help decide which group is best for an individual's fitness level and health goals.

Regardless of the chosen group, all participants will receive a nine-week training plan and log sheet; nine to 18 group walks or runs with fitness experts; and weekly emails for additional education and motivation.

In addition, there will be brief "Learn from the Expert" sessions 5:15 p.m. Mondays that will cover topics like what shoes to wear, nutrition tips, race etiquette and mental preparation, Dowse said.

There will be a kick-off meeting 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Central Park Bandshell for the public to learn more about the program. The event will include a testimonial by couch-potato-turned-runner Mary Lockwood and will end with a group walk/run for participants to take their first steps.

The kick-off will be a great way for people interested in the program to meet the trainers and fellow participants, Dowse said.

"Just come join us and get to know everyone," she said.

Get Ready to Ramble is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Sign up in person at the YMCA or call 651-388-4724.

At a glance ...

What:Get Ready to Ramble run/walk fitness program

When: 5:30-6:30 p.m. Mondays and 7-8 a.m. Saturdays through July 29; kick-off event 5:30 p.m. June 6.

Where: Central Park


More info:

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

(651) 301-7875