By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Four years ago, Northborough resident Rebekah Tregger was still new to town and signed up for the annual Applefest 5K race to meet people and get involved with a community event. She has since participated in 25 races ranging from 5Ks to marathons, runs barefoot, started a runner’s group, and has started a chapter of Girls on the Run program.
Tregger said running has had a positive impact on her.
“I have never felt healthier,” she said. “It’s what I think about the most and makes me happier than anything else.”
What sets her apart from most runners is that she runs barefoot.
After seeing someone run barefoot, she researched and found the benefits to it, such as less stress on joints, reduction in injury, better balance and better form. You land with your mid-foot instead of your heel.
“You are landing gently because you have to; there’s nothing on your feet to protect you,” Tregger said. “It’s how we were born to run.”
Yes, she has stepped on rocks and glass, had twigs stuck in her feet, and scraped her toes.
“I am always scanning what is in front of me,” she said. “I am more scared of stepping on road kill. Long distances in the rain are hard because it softens the bottoms of your feet making your feet more sensitive. If the rest of your body is dressed for the weather, your feet will adapt.”
Tregger is looking forward to in-person races again, but for now virtual races are still motivating her to train and to run miles.
Her first marathon was the 2019 Marine Corps Marathon–her toughest race because it poured and was difficult to run through a foot of water in some places along the course.
“I probably didn’t enjoy it the most, but it was the most rewarding one to cross the finish line,” she said. “It is an awesome feeling to train so long and succeed.”
She formed the Northborough Runner Facebook Group to connect and support one another. For now, it’s a place for people to ask questions, but she hopes to create running groups when social restrictions are lifted.
Tregger inspires runners of all levels and ages. Her 8-year-old daughter Julia often runs barefoot with her.
In an effort to find Julia running opportunities with her peers, Tregger found that most programs start in middle and high school. She started a Northborough chapter of Girls on the Run, (www.gotr-worc.org), a nonprofit organization for girls in grades 3-8 with a focus on the development and enhancement of their social, psychological and physical competencies needed to navigate life experiences.
The 8-week fall session meets for 90 minutes twice a week incorporating movement, projects and creativity and celebrates individual accomplishments, including a 5K run at the end.
“It’s a great group of girls and a lot of fun,” she said. “It focuses on their connection with one another as a team, building confidence, competence and all wonderful things for their self- esteem. I am glad to be a part of something like this.”
Her advice to new runners is to use a program, such as Couch to 5K, and sign up for a race to provide motivation and a goal. Finding a friend to run with you will help with accountability.
“Start out slowly and know it is ok if it takes you a really long time to complete a mile; it’s ok to do run/walk intervals,” she said. “If you really let your time get to you, it can be discouraging…it’s about enjoying it.”