Students train for half marathon in brand new class
By KEVIN BOILARD
Corey Hewson, head coach of the University of Mary Washington women’s soccer team and instructor for the physical education department, is raising the bar for individual exercise courses with his new 300-level class, Training for the Half Marathon.
The 23 UMW students enrolled in the class meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11 a.m. The class is split into three groups based on ability, but every student has his or her sights set on completing the Marine Corps Historic Half in Fredericksburg on May 19.
Hewson noticed an interest in his class, which requires permission of instructor to join, that is not typical of most classes in the physical education department.
“Usually, with individual exercise or weight training, you have a couple at the beginning who drop out,” Hewson said. “We were actually adding kids. We started at 18, but we had about five kids by the end of the week who thought the class sounded cool and were emailing me about adding the course.”
While the majority of the class time is spent physically training, running various routes around the streets of Fredericksburg, Hewson’s class also includes a textbook (“Half-Marathon: You Can Do It” by Jeff Galloway), guest speaker presentations and a fundraiser for a charity of the class’ choice.
“I like the way it’s coming along,” Hewson said about his experimental new class, which debuted this semester. “For the most part, it’s set up so that you just run, but I’m trying to make it fun for the kids, as opposed to a standard individual exercise or weight training course.”
Hewson believes the key to successful training is running with a partner. Seniors Chelsea Pomeroy, a studio art major, and Alex Long, a sociology major, are one of the class’ more experienced pairings.
“I have always been a runner,” Long said. “However, I would always run on my own, so this class makes it more fun. It allows me to have a running partner, and it challenges me to up my mileage and take on new routes.”
“I like having a scheduled time to run during the day,” said Pomeroy, who was a cross-country runner in high school. “I’ve never run a half marathon before, but it has always been a goal that I’ve wanted to reach.”
Although Hewson’s class only meets twice a week, he encourages his students to run every day and log the time they spent training in a notebook, which they must turn in. Hewson admits that it is demanding for a one-credit physical education class, but he also believes the unique use of technology in the course eases the pain on his students.
“We use GPS watches,” Hewson said. “[The watch] is added motivation. It connects to the computer and shows how far you’ve run, what your pace was. If it says you’ve run 3.75 miles, why not push for that extra quarter mile?”
Hewson uses a Nike model GPS watch, but his students sport a neon green Garmin model called the Forerunner 10, which were acquired at a bulk discount from Virginia Runner, a local equipment and apparel retailer.
Like lab equipment, Hewson explained, the students must return the watches at the end of the semester.
Hewson has two goals: to have each student finish the half-marathon and to expand enrollment in his up-and-coming course next year.
“It’s about completing it, whether they have to walk it, crawl it, roll it. If they can go 13.1 miles, they’ll get the credit,” Hewson said. “I hope the word gets out that it’s a fun class; I want a packed class next year. Mary Washington is a pretty fit campus, but this could take it to the next level.”
Pomeroy, Long and the rest of Hewson’s students will compete in the Historic Half, which starts and ends at the Fredericksburg Expo & Conference Center, on May 19.