The kids have been dropped off at school, husbands have been shipped off to work, and these ladies are ready to run — for fun.
In mid-October, Ultramax Sports began a new women’s running group to add to its repertoire of pre-existing training sessions. The group was not intended for the intense or ultra-experienced runner. Instead, it was created with the intention of catering to runners at varying levels. Whether the women have kids, full-time jobs or whatever their busy schedules might consist of, the running group offers 45 minutes to an hour when women can relieve stress and be among people who live similar lives.
“I’m a mom, and I have two kids now,” says Amy Livesay, owner of Ultramax Sports. “It’s really hard for me to run at night or early in the morning because it puts a lot of stress on the family. This was a time that worked for me and other women I know who wanted to be with their kids or husbands in the evenings.”
‘This is a mother’s running group’
The 8:30 Monday morning meeting in the brand new Ultramax store begins with women streaming in and joking about their already eventful days.
“This is a mother’s running group,” says Livesay as she defends the stain on her T-shirt. “It’s about coming as you are.”
The mentality of the group’s running agenda is flexible. Some ladies intend on solely walking through downtown Columbia because they’re nursing injuries or haven’t had much running experience. Others have histories of running in high school or college and enjoy continuing their hobby.
“A lot of people think they need to be fast to join our group, but you don’t,” Livesay says. “Recently, we did an 11-minute mile run, and we have a walking group as well.”
Julia Norregaard looks forward to the Monday morning runs because they’re nice and easy. Her workout routines have more regularly consisted of cycling due to knee issues and the aftermath of being hit by a car. “Both my friend Laurie and I had broken fibulas,” she says. “This is a good way to get back into my old routines.”
‘You have to start somewhere’
At just over a month old, the group is still evolving, and many of the ladies have heard about the group by word of mouth or through Livesay. Laura Harmon discovered the group through a running clinic that Ultramax hosted, which focused on running techniques.
“Sometimes I will run with my husband or kids, but they run ahead of me,” she says. “I am new to the group, but I think I’ll enjoy it.”
Some of the ladies, such as Harmon, live outside the city limits of Columbia, but they travel downtown to connect with other runners. And even on a brisk morning, they’re not intimidated by Mother Nature’s chilling temperatures.
“The winter is the best time to go running,” Livesay says. “If you get outside with a group, it’s refreshing. Your heart rate is lower, and it’s a wonderful time to run.”
Currently, the women only meet on Monday morning for their runs, but according to Livesay, the group could change depending on what the women are looking for.
“If there’s a race coming up that a lot of us are interested in, we could tailor our runs to focus on that,” she says.
Plus, Livesay is looking to add another day during the week to the schedule. “We might end up meeting on Fridays too and then go for coffee after our workout. It can turn into kind of a social thing.”
Whether the group facilitates women meeting or acts as a catch-up hour, the main goal is to focus on running without intimidation.
“You have to start somewhere,” Livesay says. “You have to be OK with where you are and realize there are a lot of people at the same point as you. Doing a walk/run plan is fabulous, and that’s what most people do. We focus on picking a goal that’s doable for you.”