Do you have an inspiring Couch-to-5K story? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for your chance to be featured as a Member of the Month.
Cigarettes and endurance sports rarely mix. When they do, the results can hardly be described as positive. It's what kept Deirdre Donat away from distance running for more than 40 years.
A former high school athlete, Donat tossed away her track spikes and running shoes when she started smoking as a teenager. Her resistance to distance continued until her mid-50s, when she made a life-changing decision to finally get rid of her dangerous habit.
"I started running right before my 60th birthday because my daughters were training for the Princess Half Marathon in Disney and there was a 5K being held there at the same time," Donat said. "I had quit smoking five years before and saw running as a way to lose the weight I gained when I quit smoking."
Donat traded packs of cigarettes for registration packets and hasn't looked back since. With the help of the Couch-to-5K program, the Long Island native completed the 5K and shared a memorable experience with her daughters. Now 62 years old, Donat has crossed the finish line of several other 5Ks, three 10Ks and two half marathons.
For her inspiring decision to give up smoking and transform herself into a runner, Donat is the Couch-to-5K Member of the Month for November.
ACTIVE: What is your favorite part about the Couch-to-5K program?
DONAT: "I think one of the wonderful things about the program is that it helps a new runner gain strength, speed and confidence, but it also allows for adaptation. I went back to the basics, and using the Couch-to-5K helped me add mileage systematically to avoid injury and increase endurance."
ACTIVE: To whom would you recommend the Couch-to-5K program to?
DONAT: "I feel that being active is one of the keys to good health. I recommend the Couch to 5K to everyone who says, "I could never run." I always tell them that neither could I, and that if I could do it, so can they. The program is so adaptable that it can be used not only for running but for power walking as well. The program is laid out so that anyone can follow it."