In 2020, the Lake City Athletic Club Marathon Clinic will be revamped, covering every aspect of running as well as health and wellness, and more accessible than ever.
Clinic convenor Annemarie Gallagher said she was approached by Athletics New Zealand earlier this year about running a programme "around health and wellness leading up to the 2020 Rotorua Marathon".
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She came up with a plan and Athletics NZ secured funding from the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust to put 200 people through the new programme free.
"The programme is called Kia Tu Kia Ora - Be active, Be Well and it is a partnership between Lake City Athletic Club, Athletics New Zealand and Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust.
"People will apply via our website where there will be a link to apply for our first-ever free health and wellness programme."
The 15-week programme will include weight loss advice from nutritionist Cati Pearson as well as sessions with osteopath Hester Hilbink and running coach Dr Will O'Connor, of Performance Advantage, who will run six sessions from how to run through to teaching the mental health benefits of running.
O'Connor said he was eager to be a part of the programme simply because he believed it important to promote running to all.
"Obviously, there are the health and fitness benefits of running but then there's also the community and mental health side of things. From my experience, when you're able to push yourself and experience the discomfort and success that comes from that, committing to a goal, it relays well into other areas of life.
"Committing to a 10km or a half marathon race is hard, it's a hard thing to get up off the couch and get out the door. To do that is really satisfying and makes you think 'what else can I do that gives me that same feeling?'," he said.
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With a PhD in sport science, O'Connor is passionate about teaching people how to "exercise properly".
"Just trying to integrate exercise in the 21st century - how to look at heart rate monitors and other gadgets, the nutrition and training principles and practises that a lot of people just wouldn't know.
"You don't have to run every step of the way. I did an experiment when I was doing my PhD, I did the Hawke's Bay Marathon and I did run/walk. Every 19 minutes I walked for one minute and I came second with a time of 2h 45m. That's what I like to portray, that there's no reason you can't do it.
"The old mentality was if you walk you're cheating but that leads to injuries and it puts people off the sport. How do you get from where you are now to the finish line without getting injured or hating it? That's the key."
O'Connor said the most rewarding aspect of his line of work was seeing people realise what they were capable of.
"That's the best benefit of what I do, when you get to work with someone who is dedicated. When you're able to show people more efficient ways of training and achieving their goal, then they do it, that's rewarding."
Gallagher said the programme would once again serve as a fundraiser.
"We are fundraising again for the 12 Rotorua Marathon Charities but we have a relationship with the Rotorua Community Hospice and will be encouraging our participants with amazing prizes including a $250 Pressie Card for the top Hospice fundraiser, $200 Pressie Card for the Runner of the Year and a $500 restaurant voucher for the Team of the Year - based on the most dollars fundraised and team attendance. We are also handing out lots of spot prizes along the way.
"Brett Marvelly who ran the Rotorua Marathon with us this year is also fundraising again for the Rotary Hospice Fund. He is focusing on 10km teams groups and has been very instrumental in pushing people towards joining our programme," she said.
To apply for the Kia Tu Kia Ora - Be active, Be Well programme go to www.lakecity.co.nz