Rosete Ward and Jane Johnson are glad to have each other as 5K training buddies.

Rosete Ward and Jane Johnson are glad to have each other as 5K training buddies.

“It’s harder to keep up if I am doing it on my own,” Johnson said. “Knowing the other person is going to be there really helps.”

This is the third year the two Lake Regional Health System employees have participated together in I Can 5K, a couch-to-5K training program that Lake Regional offers employees and volunteers before the annual Lake Regional Fun Run/Walk, taking place this year on Saturday, May 5.

I Can 5K participants train in instructor-led group sessions. They are encouraged to attend at least one training session a week, and they receive logs to keep track of their group and individual training. Participants who complete the program earn free entry in Lake Regional’s Fun Run/Walk.

Even though participants train as a group, the goals are personal, said Jennifer Newman, director of Lake Regional Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation.

“People are encouraged to challenge themselves but pick their own pace,” Newman said. “Most of them are not looking to be the fastest runner out there but to accomplish something that makes them proud.”

Ward has participated since the first I Can 5K in 2015. She always wanted to run an entire 5K, but the first year, she was proud to walk and run her way to the finish line. In 2016, when Johnson joined her, they ran the entire race.

“I’ve learned it’s amazing what I can accomplish when I want it bad enough and put my mind to it,” Ward said.

Both Ward and Johnson said many things keep them coming back.

“The exercise, being outdoors, meeting people from other departments in the hospital — everyone encourages each other,” Johnson said. “The leaders — Jennifer Newman, Diana Matthews and Jody Corpe — are great.”

“We couldn’t have done it without their encouragement and support!” Ward added.

On race days, Ward and Johnson also draw support from their fellow racers, as well as the crowd of spectators.

“One of my favorite things about race day is the people along the way cheering for you,” Johnson said. “It’s an empowering feeling. And, of course, crossing the finish line!”

Ward recalls feeling both determined and scared of failure when she first began training four years ago.

“I’ve learned failure doesn’t exist when you’re moving more,” she said.

Lake Regional Health System has more than 100 providers caring for lake-area residents and visitors in the hospital and its seven primary care clinics, 21 specialty clinics and three Express Care locations. Lake Regional Hospital is accredited by The Joint Commission and is a three-time recipient of the Missouri Quality Award. Lake Regional Health System also operates rehab therapy clinics, retail pharmacies, and home health and hospice services throughout the lake area.