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Home > > NewsroomSprinting into spring, HAP launches second Couch to 5K Challenge for members

Sprinting into spring, HAP launches second Couch to 5K Challenge for members

Success of 2013 program inspired two training programs for 2014, culminating in the Oak Apple Run on May 31 and NSO's "In their Shoes" 5K on September 13

Detroit – April 22, 2014 – At the kick-off for Health Alliance Plan's (HAP) Couch to 5K Challenge there was one woman who needed little encouragement. For Carol Arseneault, her life-changing transformation came one year earlier when she put on her running shoes for the first time since high school track team.

"I knew I wanted to do something to improve my health, but it was scary taking the plunge," said Arseneault, 48, of Centerline in Macomb County. "What appealed to me about HAP's Couch to 5K Challenge was that it was a somewhat private way to exercise - no one was judging me - but that it was also a group effort." The program is designed to motivate, train and support HAP members shifting from a sedentary life style to running a 5K in just nine weeks.

One year later, Arseneault has completed an impressive five additional 5K runs and can often be seen jogging around her neighborhood. She also joined Weight Watchers and credits this and her new fitness regime for helping her lose 40lbs and dropping six clothing sizes.

Although no longer a novice runner, she had no hesitation joining HAP's Couch to 5K Challenge once again and gave a short speech at the inaugural meeting in Sterling Heights in early April, encouraging new runners to stick with the program. "It was so fun, and the on-line training tips and meet-ups with trainers and other runners were very inspiring," said Arsenault.

Last year's program was so successful, with around 400 (HAP) members signing up, that the southeast Michigan based company decided to offer two Couch to 5K Challenges this year - a spring session that culminates with the Oak Apple Run in Royal Oak on May 31, sponsored by HAP, and the Neighborhood Service Organization (NSO) "In their Shoes" 5K in Detroit on September 13.

Participants receive encouragement, camaraderie and technical information from fitness experts such as Sherry McLaughlin, president of the Michigan Institute for Human Performance in Troy. Support includes group practices, training plans and online team pages where participants can encourage each other, track their weekly progress and communicate with their coaches.

Along with Arseneault, there are about 300 people - HAP members, friends and family - who are participating. One new runner, Sherri Nichols of Harrison Township, is using the HAP Couch to 5K Challenge to train for a half marathon she plans to run later in the year to raise sponsorship money for fresh water for the Pokot Tribe in Africa with the charity Hope Water Project. For Cathy Whitcroff of Troy, the program means a chance to shed her fear of gym classes since childhood. For Charlotte Winston, of Redford, becoming a successful runner will help her celebrate good health and the end of treatment for breast cancer.

"Last year's program had such a huge impact on many of our members' lives that we just knew we had to continue our mission to give people the tools to get active when they haven't had a regular fitness routine before," said Terri Kachadurian, HAP's Director of Worksite Wellness and Health Promotion. "Running is something that isn't costly and can bring huge physical and mental health benefits, but we know that it can be daunting taking those first few jogs. This year we are giving our members and their family and friends two chances to get in on the action, and with the support of our HAP program we know that in nine weeks many will be proudly crossing the finish lines of these local 5K races."

You can follow Arseneault, Nichols, Whitcroff, and Winston, along with many other inspiring new runners on their Couch to 5K journey, and learn more about starting your own Couch to 5K journey at

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