By Gene Patterson — When the gun sounds on the 2015 Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon, the streets will fill with more than 7,000 runners. They will come, young and old, in all shapes and sizes and all with a common goal-finish the race.
For some, the challenge will be the 5K, for others the Half Marathon, and for a hardy few it will be a personal quest to beat one of the great challenges of the human body, a 26.2 mile run that will test not just the body, but the heart.
Consolidated Nuclear Security is a corporate sponsor of the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon this year, which will be held March 29. But CNS is contributing more than dollars. The company is also supporting a team — the CNS Running Crew.
Forty-six Y‑12 employees, 16 men and 30 women, signed up for this year’s program. Some are veteran runners; others are just beginning their journeys. Their group training began in mid-January, trudging the hills and valleys along Melton Hill Lake under the watchful eye of LiveWise athletic trainer Robert Eichin.
Eichin sees group training as a plus for those who are new to running distances.
“If you know someone else is going to be out there with you enjoying the challenge, it adds to your accountability,” said Eichin.
This year, 53-year-old Barbara King, who works in Information Solutions and Services, is training for the marathon. It’s an amazing accomplishment, given that just two and a half years ago she had never even run a 5K. But that changed when she joined CNS’s LiveWise “Couch to 5K” program.
“Although I knew what the goal was (to run a 5K), I didn’t know how I was going to get there,” King said.
LiveWise Wellness Coordinator Karen Lacey says the fears and anxieties felt by King are typical of many who want to get in shape but worry they can’t. Once these employees join the program, they realize they can.
“What they find out is that we are here to support them,” Lacey said. “We prepare each runner with a plan that is sound, realistic and achievable.” Lacey says the key is to set a goal. “If you have a goal, you can create a plan, and you can get there,” she adds.
Still King initially wondered if she was too old, too overweight, or too out of shape to participate. She was shocked when she wasn’t turned away and also terrified that she wasn’t turned away.
“It took a while for me to understand that my participation was at my comfort level,” King said. “If I wanted to walk the whole thing, I could do that.” That flexibility, she said, and the encouragement of the Livewise staff, took all the anxiety out of running her first 5K. She enjoyed the experience so much that she’s continued with her running. She’s now proud to say she’s run six 5Ks, one 10K and four half-marathons. Now she’s going for the big race.
“I never imagined, in two and a half years, that the couch-to-5K program would eventually have me training to run a full marathon,” she said. King says she’s not finished. She plans to participate in future Triathlons. “The Ironman is in my sights,” she laughs.
Lacey says King is one of many success stories of CNS’s LiveWise program. “Being involved in our running program makes our employees healthier, allows for a greater engagement with each other and connects people across work lines.”
King says her only regret is she didn’t take advantage of the LiveWise programs earlier. “It’s a no brainer for employees,” King said, “you have access to professionals — athletic trainers, a dietician and physical therapy assistants — and it’s free.”
For more information about running or any of the LiveWise programs call Karen Lacey, 865.576.0812.