The Bloomingdale Park District's inaugural walk-to-run program started this summer with a maximum enrollment of 30 people; however, that number quickly increased to 50 and eventually 75 as the program surged in popularity.
The free program, headed by Dr. Erin Ducat of Ducat Chiropractic & Wellness Center, 107 S. Third St., will be offered from 9 to 10 a.m. Sundays this fall at Springfield Park.
"Seeing this program in action really encourages me because it is my passion to help the Bloomingdale community become active and stay injury-free," Ducat said.
"Every person that I can help start a running program in a safe, pain-free manner is another person that just lowered their risk for heart disease, stroke and cancer."
The program is designed to condition participants to race three miles safely and effectively over the course of 10 weeks. Included are educational workshops on proper stretching, shoes, equipment, heart rate monitoring and strengthening. Water is provided and pace leaders are CPR-certified.
"The key is to assist participants at their current level and help them stick to their goals for the long run by giving them a support network," Ducat said. "I stay after each run to answer questions ranging from how to run in bad weather to whether to worry about knee pain after running. I make sure that I can assist them or direct them to a resource that can."
According to Ducat, the inaugural group ranges in age from 12 to 60-plus and contains all types of different runners. It includes several moms with accompanying strollers, several first-time runners seeking the support of the group, those looking to increase their fitness level, and some who've always been active but were nervous to run for fear of injury.
"We've braved the rain and heat to meet our goals," Ducat said. "We've been able to support and encourage each runner, and have had great feedback that this program was exactly what they needed to take the next step to increase their fitness."
The final goal for the current walk-to-run group is the Bloomingdale Park Foundation's Sunset Shuffle 5K Sept. 24 at Hilton Indian Lakes Resort.
Participants may enroll for the fall walk-to-run program or the Sunset Shuffle 5K online at www.bloomingdaleparks.org or in person at the Johnston Recreation Center, 172 S. Circle Ave. Call (630) 529-3650 for details.