NITRO run offers program for all fitness levels, skills

By Keisha Howerth

The Northern Illinois Trail Runners Organization will offer a Walk to Run 101 program for people of all fitness levels.

NITRO will begin the fifth year of its Walk to Run 101 program Monday night at Hopkins Park, 1403 Sycamore Road. NITRO members and volunteers held a kick-off meeting Wednesday night at Faranda’s Banquet Center, 302 Grove St., to discuss their eight-week training program in detail.

NITRO is the largest running club between Rockford and St. Charles, representing about 100 members. NITRO coordinator Jennifer Groce said NITRO usually has 50 to 75 participants join the program per year. Groce said participants don’t need to have a lot of running experience to join.

“Wherever you’re at in your fitness lifestyle, we can work with you in this program,” Groce said. “We’re not going to be out there drill sergeanting or yelling. It’s really quite a bit of camaraderie, and really it’s a lot of encouragement. We attract anyone from all different fitness levels.”

Groce said children are welcome to participate, but they should stay with their parents during training.

Silvia Sutherland, NITRO member and volunteer, said she joined NITRO two years ago and was able to improve her running through the Walk to Run 101 program.

“I always wanted to do a run, and following this program I realized I was [running] incorrectly,” Sutherland said. “Following the program really worked. When I finished that 5K, I was so excited. It was the best experience of my life having done that.”

Sutherland said NITRO volunteers were very encouraging when getting participants motivated to run.

“I couldn’t resist being a volunteer last year,” Sutherland said. “I love being a volunteer because I love to see the smiling faces at the end of that run.”

Starting Monday, NITRO will hold three training runs for eight weeks. NITRO will meet at 6:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at Hopkins Park, and will meet at 8:30 a.m. Saturdays at the Sycamore Speedway, 50W086 Illinois 64.

Groce said for the first two weeks, participants will alternate between 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for 20 minutes. Toward the end of the program, participants will have progressed to jogging for 30 minutes for a distance of 3 miles.

“It’s not always going to be fun.You’re not always going to be in the mood to run, but stick with it, and before you know it you’ll get it,” Sutherland said.

Glen Kamps, Dick Pond Athletics manager, presented proper clothing to wear on runs and other running tips at the meeting.

“Balega Socks are the best socks in the history of the world,” Kamps said. “The socks are soft and are not cotton. All of the clothing that you have in running is not cotton. Cotton is rotten.”

Kamps said wearing cotton for running will absorb moisture and keep clothes wet.

“You don’t want to be wet when you run,” Kamps said. “If you’re wet when it’s cold, you freeze. If you’re wet when it’s hot, your perspiration doesn’t get out into the atmosphere, which is what cools you off.”

NITRO will take registration for its program up to May 12. Registration is $40, and the cost includes the NITRO Trailblazer 5K run fee and a race day T-shirt. At the end of the program, participants will take part in the 5K run on June 21 at the Sycamore Speedway.