Morning Run Group Builds Consistency, Friendship

Isabel Owens, Lifestyle Editor

Joining forces to overcome their lack of motivation for physical fitness, as well as to enjoy each other’s company outside of work, science teachers Roxanna Jackman and Jane Kelson, math teacher Anu Kuefner, and special education teacher Jessica Hoffschneider meet regularly in the early hours before school to run.

Jackman and Kuefner have been keeping a regular morning run date since September 23, 2013, Kuefner’s birthday, as they lived near each other and both ran independently. According to Kuefner, the group now meets at 5:45 am to run for about 30 minutes. Kuefner runs every morning of the school week, Jackman and Kelson both go 4 days a week, and Hoffschneifer runs with the group 3 days out of the week.

“I’ve always run, but it’s been hard to run regularly. I was an empty nester and my oldest son left for college, so I felt like I had more time in my schedule,” said Kuefner. “Mrs. Jackman saw me in the parking lot of Jamba Juice on a Saturday and said, ‘Hey, do you want to run sometimes?’ because I think some other teachers had been running in the morning, so then we just picked a Monday.”

Jackman and Kuefner’s first run together actually took place in April of 2013 while attending a Common Core conference in Phoenix. “We went running in the morning before we would go to our workshops. I think we got Mr. Walker to run with us; we barely knew him, so that was a good way to get to know him. I had a running partner who was not able to run as often as I wanted to, so then I asked Mrs. Kuefner,” confirmed Jackman.

Since 2013 the morning run group has fluctuated in number. “I don’t remember when I started but I think that I just mentioned to one of them that I was running by myself in the morning at home and they said, ‘oh, we run in the morning, you should join us,’ and I feel like that was in October last year,” said Hoffschneider.

Kuefner has since invited several other teachers to join, but not many live in close enough proximity. “I’m trying to think of who lives close enough that they could run to the bottom of the hill,” said Jackman. “Jessica’s the only crazy person who would drive to run with us.”

“They live close to each other and I live in Pleasant Hill so I actually drive and meet them and then I run with them and then I come to school and I actually shower here in the morning,” Hoffschneider said.

The schedule is surprisingly comfortable, said Hoffschneider. “Ms. Adams has her own bathroom. There’s a secret bathroom back there. I call it my ‘private spa.’ I have a nice robe down there and I have a whole bathroom set,” she said. “You can’t see it from the locker room. It’s behind Ms. Adam’s office.”

Kelson, who joined the group at the beginning of this year, is the most recent addition. “I’ve been running in the morning for the past 14 years and I have always run in the neighborhood. This year we just all decided that it would be fun to run together since we live close together,” said Kelson.

Jackman says that she has been much more consistent with running since she joined Kuefner. “I would worry about Ms. Kuefner being down in a dark corner on St. Mary’s; I would worry about her being there all by herself if I didn’t show up, so I never failed,” said Jackman.

“When you grow up it’s hard to find time to exercise, and so once you start your day and you’re busy I would always go ‘I need to run, I need to do this,’ but I would just run out of time, so going at 5:30 in the morning is not interfering with anything else I’m doing except sleeping, and my motivation to not keep sleeping is Ms. Kuefner,” explained Jackman.

The group runs on the same bike trail path every day, and according to Hoffschneider, it can be very dark.

“I get up and I do yoga for 10 minutes and then I run out the door. Sometimes I don’t brush my teeth, I just stuff my warm clothes on and then your face looks so goofy. I might have mascara all over my face because I didn’t wash my face the night before,” said Jackman.

“But we can never tell in the dark,” Hoffschneider assured her.

“We talk about school, we talk about families, like traveling,” said Hoffschneider. “We talk about students and issues at school, and we do a lot of problem solving. It’s more about chatting than running.”

“We feel like it’s collaboration, like we should get paid,” Kuefner said. “Running sometimes is drudgery but if it’s talking to people and it’s dark with a flashlight, the time goes by just like nothing,” she added.

Jackman agreed. “I never want to go and when I start it’s just like, ‘oh, I ache, and I hurt, and it’s cold,’ but once we start talking, we’re finished and I’m like ‘oh, I just got my workout’,” she said.

The runs are often exercising mentally more than physically, proving therapeutic for all involved. “I feel mentally calmer on days that I run because I have a time to debrief if something’s bothering me, and we’ll talk about it and work it out,” said Jackman.

The runs also give Jackman a chance to prepare for the day ahead. “I actually have time, when I’m running up the hill by myself, to think about what I’m going to wear and then I have way better outfits and I just come to school not feeling so hectic,” she explained.

Still, physical exercise is the main intent of these daily runs. “In physiology, we talk about the importance of exercise on your cardiovascular system, your muscular system, your everything, but then you have to find a way to exercise with your friends, because then you will make it a habit,” Jackman said. “You should start now, just doing outdoor active things with your friends and you’ll be doing it forever.”

Hoffschneider, who also runs on her own on mornings she doesn’t run with the group, agrees that she has become much more consistent since joining the clan. “I would never get up and run early if I was going by myself. That’s what I was doing and it was too hard,” she said.

“On this campus, most of us are good friends,” said Hoffschneider. “I look forward to coming to work every day because I get to be with people that I enjoy being with.”