by CARMEN SIERING
Bloomington’s running culture is getting a boost from a place most people associate with more cerebral activities. On May 1, the Monroe County Public Library (MCPL) began a free 16-week running program for ages 18 and older called Booking It.
“We assume everyone is starting from nothing,” says Annise Blanchard, one of two community engagement librarians running the program. But, she says, more experienced runners are also welcome to join the group, which meets every Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the MCPL atrium.
The program came about from conversations community engagement librarian Erica Brown had with a co-worker about health programming at the library. “This is something that is happening at libraries across the country,” Brown explains. “Fitness can be expensive, and it isn’t always accessible. The library is a safe place, people are comfortable here, and the majority of our programming is free.”
Blanchard, who has run a marathon, says Booking It offers a full-spectrum of running-related programing. “We started on May 1 with someone showing us yoga warmups as a way to prepare to run,” she says. Other topics include nutrition, cross-training, and stretching. “We’re trying to cover all of things people might not get if they just started running on their own,” Blanchard says.
The program is a partnership between Twin Lakes Recreation Center, Bloomington Area Runners Association (BARA), and the MCPL. Fitness professionals from Twin Lakes will lead some of the programming, and runners from BARA, along with runners from the community, will lead runs with the participants.
The 16-week program runs through August 21. The training leads up to the August 24 Maple Grove Goat Run, a local 5K that is part of the Mag 7 Series of races. “It’s perfect timing for the end of our training,” Brown says.
She adds that those who begin running with the group by July 10 will receive a raffle ticket for a free entry into a local 5K race.
“But people can come any time,” Blanchard says. “Even if they can only come to the very last session, they are still involved, they are still taking part, and they will still have access to all of the resources of the program.”
For more information, visit mcpl.org.