By the Squannacook Runner

Except for a few mild days in January, this has been a cold winter. Mother Nature still has plenty of time to smother us with even more chill arctic air, but spring looms ever nearer. And spring means one thing to the recreational runner: the Groton Road Race!

Yes, my friends, the Groton Road Race is once again on the radar. Our eight-part series, debuting next week, will prepare you for the Groton Road Race 5K (that's 3.1 miles for you non-metric types). Although the program is intended for the novice who has never run a road race, I understand that a few of you Groton Road Race 5K veterans return to this program each year. If you're one of them, welcome back! If you're a running newbie, I won't badger you with reasons why you should take up a recreational running program. Instead, try giving me reasons why you shouldn't run the Groton Road Race 5K. Go ahead, hit me with your best shot!

1. I can't run!

If you can walk, you can run. Think of running as walking a bit faster than usual. OK, maybe running isn't that basic, but we'll begin the 5K training program with a mix of running and walking that will gradually condition you to running long distances.

2. I don't have time to run.

Not one session of our eight-week training program should take more than an hour. As you get into shape, you'll find that you have the increased energy and stamina to handle quickly and efficiently those day-to-day tasks that once took up much of your time. That, in turn, will give you more time for exercise.


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It's a win-win situation!

3. I'm too tired to run.

As I just noted, a running program will leave you feeling more energetic. Just slug it out those first few weeks (we'll start out slow and easy), and Old Man Fatigue won't be your constant companion.

4. It's too cold outside to run.

Bundle up! We'll discuss proper dress for winter running in an upcoming article.

5. I'm too old to run a 5K.

I'll be 66 on race day, and there will be more than a few seniors in the 5K field. They're the ones who shout, "Move over, sonny!" as they sprint past me on the race course.

6. I'm too young to run a 5K.

More than a few 9- and 10-year-old youngsters run the 5K. If you're age 6 to 10, or just young at heart, try the 2K Fun Run. If you're 6 or younger (I'm impressed that you're reading this article!), there's the ever popular Tots' Trot.

7. I'm a girl, and girls can't run long distances.

Hello, June Cleaver, it's the 21st century! I don't have the stats, but I'll bet that one-third of all Groton Road Race entrants are female. So throw away the mop and apron and trade in those high heels (didn't 1950s moms always wear high heels around the house?) for a pair of running shoes. And try not to finish too far ahead of me on race day.

8. What if I finish last? I don't want to be embarrassed.

The last place finisher of the 5K gets a police escort and the heartfelt cheers of an appreciative crowd. He or she still beat the legions of couch potatoes who stayed home and didn't run.

9. I'm too heavy to run.

I weigh more than 200 pounds and have been told that my running style is reminiscent of a lumberjack galumphing down a wilderness trail. Obviously, if you're in the "heavyweight division," you should consult a physician before engaging in any rigorous exercise program. Just remember: Running is a great way to lose excess weight and keep it off. Complete our 5K training program and you'll be "lean and mean" on race day.

10. You won't believe this, but I injured my leg while saving the world from an alien invasion.

I do believe you, because the same thing happened to me. See you on race day. We can limp across the finish line together!

Forget those feeble (and imagined) excuses and make up your mind that this is the year you run the Groton Road Race. I'll be back next week to help get you started.

Find more workouts for the 5K and 10K at www.grotonroadrace.com.