SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Sioux Falls Women Run, established in 2015, has grown tremendously in the past three years. What started out as a private Facebook group soon developed into a city-wide support system for runners of all skill levels.
April Bolton, an active member of Sioux Falls Women Run, joined the group to connect and share ideas with other female runners in the area. Since joining, she has become a member of the training team and participated in numerous charitable events dedicated to providing scholarships to young women in the community.
“When I first became a member there were less than 500 of us, but now there’s over 2,000,” she said.
Bolton, who started running when she was 25, said she was never a quintessential athlete growing up. She didn’t play sports in high school and wasn’t the fastest runner in her gym class. But after accomplishing her goal to run a 5K after just one month of training, she was hooked.
“For me it was about setting a small goal and achieving it. Then continuing to set bigger and better goals,” she said.
“He makes it easy”
Bolton and many other local runners credit a lot of their new found success in running to Charley Smook, a certified strength and conditioning specialist at Sanford POWER.
“What’s been most helpful is to know that Charley is an expert at what he does. I can trust that the exercises he gives will help us become stronger runners,” said Bolton. “It was scary to me at first because I had never done any sort of weight lifting. I really have never considered myself an athlete, yet I’m going to this place where serious athletes go. But he makes it easy and explains everything really well.”
Having worked with athletes of many different ages and athletic backgrounds, Smook knows how to make his athletes feel comfortable in the gym. However, pushing them out of their comfort zone is something he believes needs to happen in order to see results.
Slashed marathon by 30 minutes
By incorporating basic lifting exercises in a weekly running routine and stimulating their type II, fast twitch muscles, Smook has seen his runners improve after just one session.
“You can only become so good at running by running itself. Eventually you will hit a plateau,” Smook said. “The weight room is what helps push you into new paces and distances that have previously been unattainable.”
While skeptical at first, Bolton saw very quickly how Smook’s lifting regimens improved her overall running performance.
“I’ve been consistently attending POWER weekly for over 18 months now,” she said. “I ran my first marathon prior to starting with POWER and then I ran my second marathon about a year after starting POWER. The difference between the two races was night and day. I was able to get a personal record in my second marathon by 30 minutes.”
Sioux Falls Women Run is more than about running. It’s about creating bonds and connecting with women who share the same interests. Bolton said there’s an open invitation to all who are interested in joining.
“It’s nice to know whenever I want to run with someone I simply have to ask and people show up,” she said.