Challenge Yourself: Get Ready for the 5K

| Graceful Health

By Jorda Daigneault, Grace Cottage Family Health Nurse Practitioner
as originally appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer, March 10, 2017.

Think you can’t run a 5K? You’re not alone. And yet, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise.

Take, for example, this story from the home page of the “Couch to 5K” website:

“With the help of the Couch to 5K program, in less than seven months, I went from a 47-year-old, 104kg, 30 cigarettes a day sort of guy, to an 82kg, 0 cigarettes, running 45 to 50 kilometers a week sort of guy. Ten months after finishing C25K I completed my first marathon. Since then I have run another 5 marathons, as well as 9 ultra-marathons including three over 100km.”

Maybe you think this is all hype, some marketer’s made-up story to sell the program. I know otherwise—because I’m a success story too.

A decade ago, friends were signing up to run the Reach the Beach Relay race and asked me if I wanted to run it with them. Being up for any challenge, and naïve about the race, I said yes!

Reach the Beach (RTB) starts at Cannon Mountain in Franconia, NH, and ends at Hampton Beach, some 200 miles away. The race takes place at the beginning of foliage season in the beautiful New Hampshire landscape—through the White Mountains, small NH towns, along lake fronts and streams, for about 24 hours. There are 12 team members, and each team member runs 3 legs of the 36-leg course. Some legs are short—3 miles, other legs are over 9 miles long; you get whatever leg is assigned to your runner number, no swapping for shorter runs. I ran over 22 miles total in the race.

I am not a natural runner, so I started preparing several months in advance by using the Couch to 5K plan. My favorite time to run is with a gentle rain in the middle of the night because it’s dark and quiet. The race was not easy, but I did participate, I did pretty well, and later I participated in 3 other RTB races! The first year we placed 354 out of 355 teams—we were excited we weren’t last. The last year I participated, my team finished 200 out of 388 teams. Not too shabby!

Grace Cottage Family Health and Hospital is hosting a 5K in Townshend, VT, on Saturday, May 13. Want to run it with me? I will be leading a C25K preparation/support group for eight weeks in March and April to help us all get ready.

The C25K program helps the potential runner get in shape without a great deal of pain. The participant starts by walking 5 minutes, then running for 30 seconds, walking for 90 seconds, and repeating this for 20 minutes, then walking for 5 minutes to cool down. It is recommended to do this three times a week. Each week the running time is increased while the walking time is decreased. By the end of the 8 weeks the participant should be able to run a 5K.

Our C25K group will meet Wednesdays at 5 p.m. in the Grace Cottage cafeteria, March 22 through May 10. The group is offered free of charge. Bring your get-up-and-go, your running gear, and a positive attitude. We’ll train together once a week, and you can train on your own two more days each week.

You can find lots of C25K information at the website All of the website resources are free. The website organizer is the person whose story is told above. He was so energized by his success that he decided to collect all of the information he could find in one place, making it easier to access. There are running logs, podcasts, inspirational stories, discussion forums, and more on this site.

It’s easy to read about all of this and to dream, but if you truly are ready for a self-transformation, why not join my group, and we’ll all do it together? Just show up at the Grace Cottage Hospital cafeteria on Wednesday, March 22 at 5 p.m. I’ll be happy to have you join us!

You can register for the Grace Cottage “Spring into Health” 5K at For more information on the C25K group or 5K itself, call 802-365-9109.

Bio: Jorda Daigneault received a diploma from the St. Elizabeth’s Hospital School of Nursing, a BSN from the University of the State of New York, her Family Nurse Practitioner Master’s degree from the University of Vermont, and an MS in Disaster Medicine and Management from Philadelphia University. She worked at Dartmouth-Hitchcock for 27 years and joined the staff of Grace Cottage in 2015.