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"Al's Health and Fitness:" The Uni High 5K for Parents and Faculty?

Gargoyle photo by David Porreca (click to enlarge)Current sophomore Max Sigalov leads a pack at the Twin Cities Twosome of 2008. If you are a parent or a faculty member, imagine your self in his shoes.

Posted Monday, Feb. 22, 2010

Gargoyle graphic by Greta Goldbart
(click to enlarge image)

For a number of years, the athletic department at Uni High has done something that deserves much praise (even though it probably also garners a lot of complaints from students.)

Every year, each Uni student completes a mandatory 5K run in order to continue on to the next year or to graduate. As a runner and someone who is very interested in health and fitness, I really appreciate what the Uni High P.E. department is doing.

While the rest of the waistlines in America continue to expand, Uni sets a standard of opposition. I have seen students come to Uni horribly out of shape. These same students are the stars of their fitness classes and the top finishers at the annual Twin Cities Twosome by their junior or senior year.

Take myself for example. I ran cross country my seventh grade year before coming to Uni, posting a best time of 17 minutes for two miles. That's not very fast. Thanks to Doug's coaching and Sally, Merf, and Doug's fitness classes, I recently broke the school record with a 15:20 for three miles.

I am excited about what they are doing and thankful that they once forced me to run a 5k on a fateful day my Subbie year. I caught the running bug and am now absolutely addicted.

I love the feeling you get after a run and it keeps me sane when the stress of school is piling up. It also relieves my high-intensity, high-energy nature. I like to think that I have become less annoying since Subbie year thanks in part to the healthier (i.e. smaller) levels of energy I have during class.

I would like to advocate running to everyone. It is incredibly accessible as a sport. If I could pick up the sport and grow to love it after being a chubby 7th-grader with slow mile times, I truly believe anyone can do it.

For this reason, I would like to extend a challenge to the Uni High faculty members and parents to participate in the Uni High 5K.

I got the idea from Jeanine Bensken, mother of sophomore Wyatt Bensken. I asked P.E. Department Head Sally Walker what she though of it. Walker replied, "I think it would be a great idea for you to promote the parents participation and giving them some training pointers or a program would be well received."

"I would love to be able to provide a venue for the parents to workout and we had talked about making that happen at Kenney but I am not sure how to make it work, no pun intended," Walker said.

If you are a parent who has dropped a kid off at Crystal Lake Park or a faculty member who has heard about the 5K but never done it, I would encourage you to consider walking or running. You might find that you enjoy a walk or light jog through the park quite a bit.

You may wonder why I am writing this article in November when the Uni High 5K is so far away. While encouraging people to sign up for the 5K in May is one of my goals, a larger goal of mine is to help people develop a love for running/jogging.

To do this, I believe it would be fun to set up unique training programs for readers of my blog with a goal of peaking for the Uni 5K. People who haven't run before could begin with a walking regimen with a goal of running without stopping for the entire 5k. Those who are a little more experienced but haven't run for a while could start with light jogging and aim to set a p.r. (running jargon for "personal best") .

If you are a parent, teacher, or even a student with little to no running experience who is interested in setting up a training program, you may find this website of use.

At this website, you will find helpful advice for beginners regarding nutrition, running form, and training.

Furthermore, there are training programs through groups such as the Second Wind Running Club or the Champaign Park District. Beth Scheid, mother of sophomore Briana Hajek, is very involved with the Second Wind Running Club and would be a great resource for getting connected with the program.

I am excited for the possibility of seeing parents and faculty members running alongside our student body. I would like to extend an invitation to use the comment section of this column for sharing training advice and encouragement. I love talking about running and related topics, so if you have a question or something you would like to add, please don't hesitate to post a comment. This invitation also extends to parents and faculty members, as this column was written largely for you.

I hope you consider the possibility of running the Twin Cities Twosome and setting up a training program. Whether your aim is to stay trim or shed some pounds through the holiday season, or you want to set a new 5K p.r. this May, I feel this would be a great way to achieve your goal.

Know that Uni High is completely behind your goals. As Uni High P.E. Department head Sally Walker says, "I am in favor of promoting fitness in anyway we can to any and all Uni folks."

Photos: 18th Annual Human Kinetics Twin Cities Twosome

Gargoyle photos by David Porreca (click any photo to enlarge and to create your own slideshow)


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Great Article

I thought this was a great article and I think your message should be heard across the country. Doing cross country this year, I took off 40 seconds from my best mile time from my splits in a race. If, more people ran, they would be healthier and happier, because they might have discovered a sport they like and/or have fun in friendly rivalries with their friends every 5k.


The photos used in this article are from the Twin City Twosome from 2 years ago. Many of the runners are in the Class of 2008, who are now in various colleges across the country not in Champaign Illinois

Albert Anastasio's picture

Duly noted, thank you. I

Duly noted, thank you. I know many of the runners have graduated but i wanted to give a feel for the race and not as many pictures were taken and put on the gargoyle from last years race.

Let's do it!

Thanks for another great article, Albert. You are so right to point out that running and walking are great ways to stay in shape and keep yourself sane, especially when the pressure builds. It's also so much more fun to do these things alongside other people.

Thanks also to Jeanine Bensken for the idea of getting more Uni parents and faculty to participate in the Twin Cities 5K, and to Sally Walker, Rebecca Murphy, Doug Mynatt and Andi Phillips for fostering a spirit of inclusiveness and rigor in fitness, sports and health.

For the last two and a half years, I have been fortunate to be able to work out at Kenney Gym, thanks to the hospitality and encouragement of Sally and her colleagues. I've been impressed to see the effort put forth by Uni students in their fitness classes, and privileged to be able to work out alongside them. Even when I was still a very novice teacher-athlete (never having been a student-athlete), Sally convinced me that I could handle a 5K, and she, of course, was right. Finishing my first 5K was such a kick, I've tried to do one or two every year.

The Twin Cities race is especially fun, since all Uni students and so many Uni families are a part of it. Everyone cheers for you, and you get great props just for trying. I strongly encourage all faculty and parents to consider taking up this challenge. It's a wonderful way to participate in and honor the work of Uni students, and to keep ourselves healthy and thriving in the process.

My p.r. will never approach that of folks like Albert, but my philosophy matches his: staying active and eating things that are good for you are essential to keeping body, mind and soul together. Thanks again, Albert, for your part in spreading the word.

Albert Anastasio's picture

Thank you!

Thanks so much for the kind words, Mrs. Morford. I really hope we can get a large crowd out this year for the Twin Cities Twosome and maybe spark an interest in running and walking in a few people who may have not been as active previously. As a side note, you might be interested to know that the Bates cross country team narrowly missed the national meet but have a phenomenal team of exceptionally friendly guys who are mostly freshman. In fact, one of the guys is from New trier in Illinois! Just thought i would give a quick update on your alma mater!

Elizabeth Majerus's picture

Great challenge

Thanks for putting forth this encouraging challenge, Albert! I will definitely participate in the Twin Cities Twosome, at the very least walking it. And maybe even running, who knows. (Though at the pace I run, my time might be better if I walk :)

Another Correction

Wait this was the year we ran the 5k when we were freshman.....so this was the class of 2009 running with us not class of 2008, because the current sophmores are also in the pictures

Albert Anastasio's picture


thats good news. that means these pictures were more recnt than I thought. Thanks for pointing that out. Looking forward to seeing you there Mrs. Majerus!