The First Strides® Vermont workshop is offered for one 12-week session each year.
We typically begin on the first Wednesday in May. Given the current circumstances surrounding COVID-19, the 2020 First Strides Vermont program is on hold. We plan to reach out in alternative ways, primarily through email and our Facebook page . In the meantime, please stay connected in whatever ways are safe. Encourage your loved ones to set a goal with you of keeping fresh air, sunshine, and movement in your day to day lives. Be well and check back here for updates.
What Is First Strides?
First Strides® is a unique 12-week beginner running and/or walking program based on mentoring, peer support, and lifestyle habits designed to help improve the fitness, self-esteem, and social support network of women from 16 to 116, regardless of your current level of fitness. The First Strides slogan is:
“It doesn’t matter where you start (how fit/fat/fast you are); it only matters that you start.”
Please note that if you have run multiple 5k’s or longer races, or are capable of running a mile in under 9 minutes, this program is not designed to meet your needs. The Fleet Feet programs or GMAA membership may better serve the abilities of women running faster than a 9 minute mile.
The program was created in 1997 by Jane Serues, a former coach, Olympic Trials marathoner, and national-caliber masters triathlete. Jane’s original First Strides program has grown into eight separate workshops and has served thousands of women in the greater Allentown, Pennsylvania, area since its inception. (Curious to know more? Check out the website for the original First Strides program.)
In 2004, Michele Morris, a charter First Strides mentor, duplicated this life-changing program in Vermont and led the program through 2013.
In 2014, renowned Vermont runner and coach Kasie Enman took the helm and continues to bring First Strides to even more Vermont women!
Pennsylvania and Vermont host the only First Strides programs to date.
How It Works
Each weekly, one-hour First Strides class typically begins with brief announcements, followed by that week’s workout. All workouts are based on time, not distance, which is why the program accommodates walkers as well as beginning runners. The first workout lasts just 15 minutes, with each week’s workout lasting a little longer.
We end each session with a 15- to 20-minute informative talk by a qualified Mentor or guest expert on topics related to walking and running: Proper form and breathing, appropriate footwear and clothing, injury prevention, safety, nutrition, and more.
After the second week, we divide the large group into smaller groups of similarly paced women, each of which is assigned two Mentors to shepherd their group through the program. These volunteer Mentors are all experienced walkers and runners, many are First Strides graduates, some are elite local athletes.
At the end of the 12 weeks, many of our participants choose to complete a culminating event: the Richmond Round Church 5k Run or Walk for Women at the end of July.