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No Boundaries program at Fleet Feet Sports PDX is helping novice runners prepare for Lake Oswego's iconic, challenging running event on May 7

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Runners in the No Boundaries program sponsored by Fleet Feet Sports PDX in Lake Oswego range in age from 36 to the mid-50s. The group is building toward the 5K Lake Run in May.Chris DeBrine says the thought of even running to her mailbox exhausted her.

But the Lake Oswego resident says she was looking for a positive change in her exercise routine and for a new way to meet people socially. She found both in a No Boundaries running program called “From the Couch to 5K” that DeBrine now believes will carry her all the way to the finish line of the Lake Run in May.

“The morning of the first run, I seriously considered various excuses to cancel. I then decided I needed to just do it and put the anxiety aside,” DeBrine says. “I’m sure I looked like a deer in headlights when I walked in that morning.

“But now that I am a few weeks into the routine, I’m proud of myself for ignoring the negative voice in my head. I am getting so much out of the program, more than I even considered in the beginning. I’m excited to see what I learn next and to see what I’m capable of achieving.”

And she’s not alone. Eighteen runners — whose ages range from 36 to the mid-50s — have joined the No Boundaries program hosted by Fleet Feet Sports PDX in Lake Oswego. Over the course of nine weeks, the group is planning to move from the couch to the streets of Lake Oswego for the Lake Run on May 7.REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - And they're off! No Boundaries members head out for midweek run at Willamette Park as part of their training for next month's Lake Run. Eighteen runners have joined the From the Couch to 5K group.

“People will be surprised by what they achieve so quickly,” says Holly Haffey, Fleet Feet’s training program and outreach manager, who herself is a member of the new running club. “I run with them because it is part of my passion to really help people to develop a passion for running. I love being out there and watching people achieve their goals.

“We’re specifically training for the Lake Run,” Haffey adds, “but this won’t just be a one-day thing. We’re going through nine weeks of training for the Lake Run, then we’ll be running year-round in 10- to 12-week segments.”

Haffey says most new members start out walking, then run-walking and eventually begin running in full stride — often sooner than they thought possible. It’s a natural and easy progression, all done under the guidance of husband-and-wife coaches Craig and Debbie Mason.

“We’ve been coaching the program for two years and love what it does for individuals and the community,” Craig Mason says. “This program steadily builds each participant’s endurance and stamina toward the ultimate goal of running a 5K. It’s your race at your pace.

“Running is within all of us,” Mason says, “but ‘From Couch to 5K’ is something more than that. It builds camaraderie and lasting friendships within the participants. It’s not uncommon for participants to be apprehensive at the start of a program. But they soon learn it’s not a competition to be better than anyone else. They’re only encouraged to get better than they were yesterday.”

That’s a philosophy that appealed to Gizelle Atkins.

“After having my first child and letting things get further out of shape than they should have, I wanted to not only get back to my pre-pregnancy state, but also push myself even further,” Atkins says. “As you can only experience change when you do things differently than you have done them, I researched local running groups to assist in this journey.”

Signing up for the No Boundaries program was easy, Atkins says. “The scary part was actually going to the first session. But we are about a month into the training now, and I see a huge improvement from where I was just weeks ago. And that keeps me going.REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Holly Haffner, Fleet Feets training program and outreach manager, is also a member of the No Boundaries running group. 'I love being out there and watching people achieve their goals,' Haffner says.

“Each week, we increase the amount of time we run, and I am shocked that I can actually finish the run with reasonable effort,” she adds. “So far, No Boundaries has shifted the way I think about running. From setting my own lofty running goals and feeling discouraged when I couldn’t keep up with them, I’ve now become part of a group that encourages and motivates me toward attainable goals.”

So far, the No Boundaries program is attracting most of its members through Facebook, medical partners and word of mouth. Half of the runners who have joined say they had been training with a friend, and Mason says many past participants have continued running with individuals they met in the program.

It’s that kind of camaraderie that makes No Boundaries special, he says.

“Though running is an individual sport, the running community encourages each and every person to be the best runner they can be and to set and reach their own personal goals as an individual and runner,” Mason says. “You can run with groups or on your own. That’s one of the many beauties of running.”

For more information about the “From Couch to 5K” program, call Fleet Feet Sports in Lake Oswego at 503-305-8616. For more information about the Lake Run — including detailed course maps, start times and more — visit www.lowomensclub.org/lakerun.

Contact Cliff Newell at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Editor’s Note: No Boundaries runner Chris DeBrine is keeping track of her progress as she works up to the Lake Run 5K. Here’s her most recent journal entry:

“Unbelievable that we just finished Week 5! We had to jog 10 minutes, walk three and jog 10 more minutes. That’s 20 minutes of jogging. I’m pleased that I was able to do this, especially since it is a great improvement from Week One, where we only had to jog a quarter of that amount.

“I’m not going to lie: The last three minutes of jogging on Wednesday night were tough. If I was trying to do it on my own, I would have quit and just walked. But team members were right next to me with tips on how to breathe and with funny anecdotes to divert my attention from giving up. That’s how it has been a few times for me; just when I think I am going to give up, a fellow runner in the group or one of the mentors is right there helping me reach my goal.

“We typically run together twice a week, on Wednesday evenings and then again on Saturday mornings. This week, I was out of town and had to do my Saturday morning run on the treadmill at the hotel, and that was not easy — nor pretty. I’m sure some people love running on a treadmill. For example, one woman in our group loads up her iPad with guilty-pleasure TV shows and is entertained as she kicks out her miles, but I was dragging. I barely got through the training, which made me realize how much I appreciate running with the team. I looking forward to seeing them for Week 6.

— Chris DeBrine