Want to run a 5K? We’ve got the program for you!

Toni Howard, center, leads participants of the 5K launch in stretching exercises.

The approach of longer days and warmer weather are a great reason to amp up your fitness routine. If you’ve ever thought that running a 5K was something you wanted to add to your fitness regimen, the American Heart Association has something just for you.

TODAY, TUESDAY, FEB. 25, AT 11 A.M. AT THE INDOOR TRACK OF THE SEFCU GYM AT 700 PATROON CREEK BLVD., ALBANY, the American Heart Association opened the application period for its 2020 Healthy for Good 5K Training, a 12-week training program that culminates with participants running the 5K at the Capital Region Heart Walk and Run on June 7.

On February 25, the coaches for the 2020 training program, program mentors, past participants and Heart Walk team captains from SEFCU, attended at the launch. Following some stretches and exercises, the group took a short run.

The two leaders of the Healthy for Good 5K training program, Toni Howard and Rosella Elliott, have special reasons for coaching the training program for the second year in a row.  

“I lost my mother this year to complications from congestive heart failure,” said Toni Howard, chair of the Teacher Preparation Department, Hudson Valley Community College and instructor at ABC Sports and Fitness. “The AHA is an incredible organization and the work they do truly makes a difference. Coaching this year has even more meaning for me. It’s always inspiring to see how the group comes together to not just meet their goal, but to form friendships. It’s also an honor to coach alongside Rosella for a second year.”

“I started running in 2003 to recover after my stroke,” Elliott, who is the Stroke Ambassador to the 2020 Capital Region Heart Walk and Run, said. “I run now for all my friends and family who cannot run because of heart disease and stroke.”

Howard and Elliott were joined by mentors who lead the participants in their trainings between March 16 and June 7, once per week at either The Crossings in Colonie or the Colonie Town Park in Cohoes.

“It’s such a special goal as a coach to watch new runners learn to ‘run with their hearts and not their legs,’” Elliott said. “Even after Toni and I coached them, and they ran the 5K at the Heart Walk, we’d see them at other 5Ks. That’s so rewarding. They started off new and nervous and finish as a team of supportive runners cheering their friends to the finish line together.”

“Our team is so special,” Howard said. “As each runner or walker crosses the finish line, the team is there to cheer them, encourage them, and sometimes, to push them to finish strong. Whether you are new to 5K racing or experienced, we have a plan and an incredible group of mentors and coaches who bring so much knowledge and experience, that everyone benefits. Whether you run it, walk it, jog it or a combination of all three, this is an event for the whole family.”

Gail Sacco and her husband Dr. Joseph Sacco, a cardiologist at the Albany VA and Albany Med, were part of the 5K training program last year.

“I was always in awe of the people who run, and I always felt I couldn’t do it,” Gail Sacco, retired director of the Voorheesville Public Library, said. “But I believe in the AHA and this was a training program, so I thought I’d give it a try. I had recently retired, and I signed up at the last minute. I had no running experience and a great deal of trepidation. Toni, Rosella and their teams were with me every step of the way, teaching, encouraging, providing little tweaks, and cheering for every success I had.   And with their help, I did it!”

“The American Heart Association says we should all get 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week,” said Sara Rindenello, communications manager, community development at Albany Med.  “This 5K training program puts people in a supportive and instructive atmosphere to do this. After 12 weeks, they won’t just be able to run a 5K, they will have improved their overall health. Seeing the improved health of Capital Region residents is why Albany Med works with the American Heart Association on our ‘Life is Why’ campaign.” 

“At SEFCU, we are committed to changing lives every day. While we offer programs and services to help our members stay on track financially, the American Heart Association’s Healthy for Good 5K Training Program is helping people take the steps necessary to prepare for the Heart Walk and maintain a fit, heart-healthy lifestyle for years to come,” said SEFCU Director of Communications and Chair of SEFCU’s Heart Walk Team Ken Jubie. “SEFCU is proud to support this training program, the Capital Region Heart Walk and Run, and all of the impactful work being done by the American Heart Association to elevate care, support research, and rally around the people in our community who are fighting heart disease. ”

People can register for the Healthy for Good 5K Training Program at CapitalRegionHeartWalk.org. There is a $100 fee to join the training program, which includes the cost of the run. For information, contact Jessica.Pettengill@heart.org or call 518.626.8768. There will be an information session on March 2 at ABC Sports and Fitness, 3 Johnson Road, Latham, at 6:45 p.m. The first training session is March 16.

Albany Med is the American Heart Association’s Life Is Why sponsor. SEFCU is the sponsor of the Healthy For Good 5K Training Program.


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