Beach to Bayou - May 2022
- By Lisa Monti
Leanne Murray and Joel Lawhead established the new Bay St. Louis Running Company to “fill a void in the fitness community” when Fit First closed after the passing of owner Helene Loiacano Johnson. Leanne and Joel used to work out at Fit First, where bootcamp-style workouts were popular with members.
“Many people got used to that group fitness” and missed being a part of it, Joel said. Their “Couch to 5K” program offers a series of bootcamp sessions combining proven running strategy, accountability, and encouragement.
Beach to Bayou
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After hosting two six-week bootcamps earlier this year, the Running Company will offer four-week mini camps this summer for runners of all ages and abilities. People new to running and those who haven’t run in a while are welcome.
“It’s good for everybody, assuming they’re healthy and physically able,” said Joel. “We tell people they need to be able to walk a mile. We can get you to run three miles in six weeks.”
A good pair of shoes is also a must.
The program gradually mixes walking with light running, all outdoors. “We didn’t want to do an indoor bootcamp because we live in such a beautiful place,” Joel said. “It’s a great place to run.”
Both Joel and Leanne are experienced runners, and they wanted to get more people interested in becoming runners or getting back to the sport.
Leanne is a marathoner and triathlete who routinely finishes with top honors in her age group in races around the Southeast. She is a nurse practitioner at Hancock Women's Center and also a guest medical expert on Mississippi Public Broadcasting and adjunct faculty member at the University of South Alabama Nursing School.
Joel is an ultra-marathoner, Ironman triathlete and Les Mills-certified fitness instructor since 2013 who has coached dozens of running and strength bootcamps and has completed the Road Runners Club of America Coaching Course.
Joel said the Running Company’s group workouts are more like a community social event that “takes the doldrums out of exercising and removes the stress of working out alone.” It’s been shown that people are more likely to show up for group activities, and their rate of success goes up.
The first six-week bootcamp drew 25 participants, and the second had around 20. The next monthly mini-session, “Make Running Fun Again,” is May 9-June 3. Runners will meet at 5:45 a.m. at the Washington Street pavilion on Mondays and Thursdays and proceed along the beach walkway, weather permitting, for a variety of fun running workouts that last 30 to 45 minutes.
The early-morning start time is designed to accommodate work schedule and to beat the heat. “It gets the day kicked off right,” Joel said.
Those who complete the bootcamps celebrate at a fun graduation ceremony, complete with a finish line and clock, just like a real race.
Angela Adams of Waveland said she had never been a runner before she signed up for the first bootcamp in January. She knew Leanne and thought it was as good a time as any to try running. “One problem I had and a lot people have is just getting started. Having accountability of the group helps.”
And having coaches who encourage the individuals in the group to do the best they can also helps. “The coaches are just really fabulous and supportive people who encourage you to stick to your specific goals, whether it’s to improve your speed, increase the distance you can run, or simply get off the couch and move.”
Angela, who works remotely as a cybersecurity project manager, said what surprised her most about her experience was that she could actually run. “I was shocked that I ran my first 5K after six weeks.”
And even though she was not a morning person, she became one thanks to the 5:45 am bootcamp start time. “It really gets your day going,” she said. “And you get to see the sunrise.”
The Running Company also organizes special events such as the Bay Saint Louis Summer Fun Run Series on Saturday mornings from May 7 to July 9 starting at 8 a.m. The 2,3 or 4-mile runs start and end at the Mockingbird Cafe. There will also be a 5K - Fish Fry Fundraiser to benefit Deb Davis.
For more information visit their website or their Facebook page.
Upcoming events can be found here:
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