Freihofer 5K.4

Training Challenge participants warm up before a run.

CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. >> Officials with the Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K are bringing the popular Training Challenge program to Clifton Park and Saratoga Springs.

The nationally-known 5K race takes place June 3 in Albany. What is less well known is the 10 week pre-race training challenge for those women runners who span the spectrum from novice to advanced runners.

In the past, the Training Challenge has been held solely in Albany County. However, this year it is expanding to the Southern Saratoga YMCA in Clifton Park and the iRun LOCAL running specialty store in Saratoga Springs.

“The program is based on the Couch to 5k Training Program,” said Clifton Park resident, trainer and race co-director Kristen Hislop. “In the past it was in Albany but we found all women didn’t want to go to Albany for the workouts. This year I wanted to give more women a chance to participate so we’re including two spots in Saratoga county.”

Hislop, who teaches fitness classes at the Southern Saratoga YMCA and VENT Fitness, said the program’s primary goal has always been to get women moving by giving them a structured program that eases them into running based on their abilities.

“We want to get them started, get them to the finish line, and keep them going once they cross it so it becomes part of their lives. They don’t have to run a marathon,” she said. “I’m passionate. I want to show how running helps them.”

To that end, the program will use hard data to prove running has helped them. Body composition and blood pressure will be measured at the start and at the end of the 10 weeks.

“They’ll see the change in their body and their blood pressure,” Hislop said. “And there is also a nutrition education piece. At the Saturday group meets we have a Sage College professor of nutrition science and sports nutrition who is also a runner.

Starting the week of March 20 training challenge workouts will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesdays at the Southern Saratoga YMCA, 1 Wall Street, Clifton Park. For those who wish to train in Saratoga Springs the workouts are scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursdays at iRun LOCAL, 18 Congress Street No. 3.

In addition to the trained group runs, participants are expected to work out one day a week on their own and join in a large group workout at 8:30 a.m. on Saturdays at Colonie Mohawk River Park.

The total cost for the training challenge is $85 and includes the $30 entry fee for the Freihofer 5K Run. Each training challenge participant who runs the 5K (3.1 miles) and finishes receives a three month registration at VENT Fitness as part of the program.

As a special addition at the Clifton Park venue, child care will be available for a small fee.

“For a lot of women the child care part is a big deal,” Hislop said. “The fact that women can go to the Y and drop their kids off for an hour and go run, that can make it.”

She added that the women who participate in the training challenge at the Southern Saratoga YMCA will receive a 10 week adult membership also.

Those who train at iRun Local don’t have the access to child care but they do have a chance to try a variety of running shoes on Demo Day.

“One of the Thursday workouts in Saratoga will be on Demo Day and they will have many different brands of running shoes that the women can try out,” Hislop said.

When the Freihofer Training Challenge was conceived seven years ago all of the training sites were in Albany County. Over the years the organization realized people just didn’t have the time to drive to Albany to train.

“We realized people’s lives are in flux,” Hislop said. “We found people were having a hard time making it to one set location week after week so we added more sites.”

To cover as wide a spectrum of runners as possible, Hislop said each training session, including the large group Saturday sessions, will offer runners the chance to run with people at their own speed.

There will be novices, people who haven’t run in a long time and intermediate runners, those runners who have run a 5K or two but are now only running one or two miles.

“And we’ll have advanced runners who work out on a regular basis and want to get faster,” Hislop said. “And that’s fine. Our mentors are all over the place with weight and size and they will be there to help. The big thing is once women get running, no matter the distance, they will find they are feeling better and their lives are better.”

To register for the Freihofer Training Challenge one must register for the Freihofer 5K Run. For more information go to:

A virtual training challenge, a series of emails, three to four times a week outlining workouts, is also available to anyone for $10. To sign up for the virtual workouts go to:

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