FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker's annual Turkey Trot 5K kicks off Nov. 21 and a new program aims to help more runners lace up this year.

Micah McElderry, Fort Rucker fitness specialist, said the seven-week 2015 From Tater to Trot Couch to 5K Running Class helps anyone at any fitness level complete a 5K with confidence.

"Our goal is to transform you from couch potato to runner, getting you to begin running a 5K, or 3.1 miles, on a regular basis in just two months," she said. "Our program is less of a running program than a walking and jogging program. It's not until week four when we will be doing a continuous run.

"We will also have a program for those who are currently running 2 miles or more several times a week and are wanting to improve their 5K time," she added.

According to McElderry, the beginner-friendly class is designed to condition runners to run 3 miles on a regular basis in just under two months. Participants team up with other beginner runners to learn running tips, obtain weekly running plans and safely prepare to run a 5K.

"The benefits of implementing a consistent cardiovascular program, like running are too numerous to ignore," she said. "Common health issues can be positively affected, prevented or controlled just by exercising.

"This class is perfect for individuals who are hesitant about starting a new fitness program," she added. "The class helps runners become motivated and accountable alongside others who are at the same fitness level."

Classes, which begin Sept. 27, are Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the Fort Rucker Physical Fitness Center, Bldg. 4506, on Andrews Avenue.

Cost is $3.50 per class and patrons may use a fitness card purchased at either PFC. Fitness cards are $15 for two weeks or $30 for a month of unlimited classes.

"I always say, 'Rome was not built in a day,'" McElderry said. "The cardinal rule of the new runner is to be patient. Your body needs time to adapt to this new activity you're asking of it. It may be uncomfortable at first, but you'll begin to see results fairly quickly.

"All the same, it's important to build gradually," she added. "When starting a new exercise program everyone will feel self-conscious. This is part of training anything. It takes time to build confidence. The key to developing an active lifestyle is baby steps. Start with something you can do right now, with what you have. Go for a 10-minute walk. Little changes really can change everything."

Participants should get a good night's rest, preferably seven to eight hours, before each class, and also eat breakfast and drink 12 ounces of water an hour beforehand, according to McElderry.

"They should wear light-weight breathable clothing, comfortable shoes and bring water to drink," she added. "We will be stretching before and after we run each day as a class.

Throughout the course of the 8-week program, we will learn proper footwear and attire, nutrition, running tips, receive weekly training plans and other activities, such as strength and cross training, that will condition them for the 5K," she added. "Participants will be given homework each weekend to help them continue to blossom into runners."

For more information, call 255-3794 or 255-2296.