Maureen Forscutt of Qualicum Beach has turned a session with the Oceanside Running Club’s Learn to Run program into a lifelong pursuit of running.

In it for the long run

Oceanside Running Club launches Learn to Run program Feb. 15

When Maureen Forscutt of Qualicum Beach completed the Oceanside Running Club’s Learn to Run program last spring, she didn’t consider herself a graduate. She saw it as simply the first class in a lifelong program of learning.

“When we got to the end of the program, there was a group of us who wanted to continue and go farther, maybe run a 10K,” said Forscutt, 56. “(Coach) Doug Brown graciously took us on and he kept us going after that. He called us the learn to run farther group.”

ORCA will kick off its 2017 Learn to Run series next Wednesday, Feb. 15, and invites a new class of incoming “students” to join in the 13-week program. Brown, a veteran running coach and member of ORCA, is back to lead running sessions each Wednesday from

6-6:30 p.m. through May 10, at which point participants are encouraged to enter ORCA’s annual Mother’s Day 5K run/walk on May 15.

Learn to Run is designed for beginning runners or those who are returning to the sport after years away, much like Forscutt.

“I did a few runs when I was, like, 20,” she said. “I hadn’t run for years, but it was something I remembered I did enjoy.”

Forscutt first saw an announcement for the Learn to Run program in 2015, but the series was under way and she did not want to jump in midway through. She joined the 2016 program at its start.

“Nobody’s left behind,” she said. “You start out running, then someone yells out, ‘Walk!’ Then you walk for the prescribed time, then it’s time to run some more. The nice thing is, when you’re a beginner you don’t even need to keep track.”

Forscutt, who moved to Qualicum Beach from the Sunshine Coast six years ago, said her motivation to join the Learn to Run program included both personal fitness and meeting other people who enjoyed the outdoors and an active lifestyle.

It did not include “racing” the Mother’s Day 5K event.

“No,” she said with a laugh, “because when I started out I didn’t even believe I could run the Mother’s Day run. You don’t even believe you can run 5K; it just doesn’t seem like it can happen.”

The key to the Learn to Run program is gradually increasing running intervals while reducing the walking breaks as participants gradually increase their stamina and ability, ORCA member Jill Davies said.

An existing ORCA club runner serves as course “sweeper” to follow the group and ensure nobody gets left behind. Forscutt said runners who get out in front of the main group will turn around and come back, “so the group bunches back up on itself.”

“A lot of the people in ORCA would come Wednesday nights and run with us,” she added. “They talked to us and it would be very supportive, like saying, ‘I used to be here and run like this, and look at me now.’”

Indeed, in just one year, Forscutt has taken her place in that group and will find herself returning to run with new entrants in the program this winter and spring.

Since completing Learn to Run, Forscutt has not only completed the Mother’s Day 5K, but went on to finish a 10-kilometre run and now is training for the Comox Valley RV half-marathon (21 kilometres) Mar. 19.

“It keeps perpetuating forward,” Forscutt said of her running. “I’m hooked; I really like it. Whether you run by yourself or you run with other people, it seems like it’s really calming.”

Cost for the Learn to Run program is $35, which includes membership in ORCA. For information or to register, contact coach Doug Brown at dougb2016@telus.net or 250-248-8342.

Above, Maureen Forscutt runs on the trails behind Qualicum Beach Civic Centre. — Image credit: J.R. Rardon/PQB NEWS