Through the Tribe “My First Race” mentoring program I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and running with over a hundred new or returning runners. Folks who literally got off the couch to join our run, those returning after having a baby, and those looking to connect with family through fitness.
As we begin our third “My First Race” program I wanted to share a story of an amazing inspiration, Ljiljana Stanojevic, a fierce mother who not only met her goal of racing Spring Run-Off as part of our training program, but then went on, with the motivation of her daughter, to race a 15km road race and a half marathons during 2015. Ljiljana has a drive and energy that is truly contagious and you can’t help but be inspired when you sweat with this gal. Please enjoy the “My First Race” story of Ljiljana.
When I joined the ‘Learn to run’ program I couldn’t run. I thought it would be easy to start running, but all my attempts failed and I ended up with sore muscles and an injury. During a weekly yoga class held by Tribe Fitness at MEC Toronto, I heard about the ‘Learn to Run’ program with Canada Running Series and signed up without too much hope that I would ever be able to run, was I ever wrong.
My first day of training was interesting. I was nervous and I thought that all the other participants would run with ease while I fell behind. Thankfully, all of the Tribe mentors were there and were so encouraging, patient and supportive, explaining what to expect and the difficulties that everyone can face when beginning to run. We were all given a training schedule provided by Tribe. During this first session we ran for 1 minute, walked for 2 minutes, and repeated that for a specified amount of time. During the week we were told to run two times on our own as part of the program and once a week we would meet and run with Tribe. The running time would increase and the walking time would decrease every week.
A draw to this free program is that we were teamed up with experienced run mentors from Tribe. We would connect through email and in person at the weekly runs. My mentor, Jenna Pettinato, was amazing. She helped me by providing valuable advice and sharing her own experiences. She understood the difficulties that I had and followed up with my training through emails. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be running today.
What I loved most about the ‘learn to run’ program is that Tribe is like a family. They care and help each other and always welcome new members. I felt very comfortable during my training and later on during the runs with Tribe. Tribe’s founder Heather Gardner invited various representatives of sporting goods and supplies stores to come during the training sessions to talk to us about proper clothing, running shoes, nutrition etc. which was very helpful. We learned more than just running, we became part of a community.
The goal race was Spring Run-Off. Everyone knows it finished with a giant hill. During the Spring Run-Off killing that hill would have been impossible without the Tribe cheer squad standing at the bottom cheering everyone on. You get an energy boost when you see a bunch of people yelling words of encouragement, holding signs, dancing, and telling you that you can conquer the hill.
One thing I would tell a new runner would be, you can do it! It’s an amazing program. Your mentor and all the Tribe members will be there to help you all the way. You will not regret it. Trust me, you are going to kill that hill!
If you’d like more information or to sign up for this free training program, find all the details here.