Partnering with a local running club can make both the library and running communities stronger.
This year the LP Fisher Public Library teamed up with our local run club, the River Valley Runners. They got a place to have their monthly meetings, access to awesome running books (and periodicals, thanks to the generous donation of a member), and we got to particpate in their fun runs and help plan their events. It has turned out to be a true win-win. If a public library's mandate is to enhance literacy (including physical literacy!) while building community, and a run club's is to encourage citizens to run and lead healthy lifestyles, we are hitting all the marks.
In the few months that we've tied our figurative sneakers together, we've started a weekly walking club and a thrice-weekly run club, held a running nutrition talk, and are planning for our inaugural Kids' Kilometer Race and upcoming ChiWalking and ChiRunning workshops.
The Library Walk Club meets every Tuesday at noon, rain or shine, and is led by a library staff member. We do a 2.8-kilometer loop from the library's front door (which takes us about 30 minutes). No one gets left behind, and all ages and genders turn out, from parents with their kiddos in strollers to some slow-moving elderly walkers that come 15 minutes early to get a head start. Then we come back to the library and do a 20-minute gentle stretching routine in our activity room. The routine was designed to be done either on the floor with yoga mats or in chairs. Participants get to take home hand-outs so they can repeat the stretches on their own. This is a free, drop-in program.
The Library Run Club meets three times a week (Monday and Thursday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 8:30 a.m.). We run a 5-kilometer loop from the parking lot. Our director (me!) leads the Thursday night run, our board's vice president leads Monday night, and the River Valley Runners Chair leads the Saturday morning. We pinch hit for each other when life gets in the way. This is also a free, drop-in program. Our pace is slow, beginners are welcome, and no one worries about the time (at least not out loud).
On June 11 and 12 we have John Kent coming to teach us about ChiRunning and ChiWalking in a series of workshops held at the library. There is a charge for this program, but for those patrons with financial difficulties there is a funding program in place to cover the cost for them. We also have a local Holistic Nutritional Consultant coming on May 26 for a talk called Natural Nutrition for Runners and Walkers. She's going to share some yummy recipes to help fuel our activities, and then we're all going to go for a fun run together.
Our other exciting project is planning an inaugural Kids' Kilometre Fun Run Race — with the help of the town — on July 16th. A local daycare has graciously donated a few boxes of brand-new kids' books for all ages, and we're going to give them out at the end of the race instead of "finisher's medals" or t-shirts. There is no cost for the event, and parents are encouraged to run with their children. Everyone will also be offered a healthy snack of fresh fruit and water. There are no prizes for first or second or whatever place; everybody is just moving for the fun of it.
We're not the only ones getting in on running and walking programs in libraries. The Fredericton Public Library recently hosted a whole series of running events, including a talk on ultramarathons that was overflowing with people wanting to learn more about the sport.
The best part of all this program planning is the community-building that happens when passionate people get together with a common goal. Like librarians, runners are already a pretty supportive and enthusiastic group, and together we can get a lot done and have fun doing it. Now when I see the Run Club out, I honk and wave in encouragement. We cheer each other on at local races and make travel plans. We post race goals. I let them know when new running books come in, and they are missing from the display that same day. They constantly buy new running books and then donate them to the library. One runner who used to run alone and said she would never do yoga now comes to my yoga class every week. She ended up becoming our running club secretary and shows up for almost every event. My kids have other kids who love running as much as they do to hang out with. Our patrons love our new programs, and our stats are through the roof. Our citizens are healthy and moving and inspiring others to do the same.
Wins all around — where it counts.