Rec Center to launch program for faculty, staff


Maggie Willard

Oakland University Recreation & Well-Being will be hosting a Couch to 5k program for employees only. 

For the first time ever, Oakland University Recreation & Well-Being will be hosting a Couch to 5k program for employees only. 

Couch to 5k is centered on helping individuals prepare for a 5k who may not be avid runners. Employees will follow the eight week program by using the free Couch25k app.

Couch to 5k was designed by runner Josh Clark in 1996 to help himself recover from a breakup. Now 26 years later, Couch to 5k is used by thousands of people across the world.

Caitlyn Hennings — wellness and educational outreach coordinator — and Hailey Forbes — fitness programs and services coordinator — will be co-running the program. This started when they surveyed faculty and staff, and the majority of respondents reported that they are sedentary for 60% or more of their day.

The program starts off by walking and then small amounts of running, and it increases in difficulty throughout the eight weeks. Weekly runs will be held on Mondays from either noon to 1 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. starting at the Rec Center.

The plan is to run around OU’s campus if the weather permits, but if need be the runs will be held on the indoor track at the Rec Center.

“With [February] being heart health month, this is a good opportunity to be more active,” Hennings says. “[It is a] great way to get into aerobic activity.”

Hennings has utilized this program before at the previous university she worked at, and it was very successful — now it is OU’s turn. Faculty and staff can use the program for not only physical health, but to also improve mental health.

“Hopefully this program will help people with their worries,” Hennings says. “It’s a great stress reliever and helps to practice being mindful — people will focus on breathing and how the mind feels.”

The process is slow, but the goal is to make running easier for people — one way to achieve this is to be part of a group. Up to 30 employees are able to register for the program, which registration is already open until March 14 — the day of the first run.

In addition to the weekly runs, there will also be weekly webinars every Thursday on Zoom from noon to 12:30 p.m. The purpose of these webinars is to provide resources and advice to those participating.

The head cross-country coach Paul Rice will be hosting one of the webinars discussing correct running attire and techniques for running and breathing. Another guest speaker will be Seth Swary — coordinator of sport & performance psychology at OU Counseling Center — who will talk about mindfulness for running and preparation.

Forbes will incorporate her personal trainers into the program to help assist and to run alongside the faculty and staff. Forbes will also be hosting a stretching webinar, and a trainer will talk about good strength training exercises.

A weekly email will be sent out to explain the week’s schedule and to provide additional words of encouragement. Hennings hopes the faculty will stay committed to the journey and enjoy it.

“A lot of people expect to feel amazing after running once, but people need to be patient for the results,” Hennings says. “ Being patient with the process and trusting that your body is getting stronger.”