Monday, September 14, 2020

Ken Owen: On Pace for a Healthier Lifestyle

Ken Owen, UIS Associate Professor of history, recently placed 4th overall and 1st in his age category in the Prairie Star 5K, held earlier this month on the UIS campus. 

“If you would have told me a few years ago that I would be running a 5K voluntarily, of my own free will, I would not have believed you,” joked Owen who buckled down into a healthier lifestyle after the birth of his daughter almost three years ago.

In fact, the 2018 Prairie Star 5K was his first race ever. Since then, he’s been a regular face at The Recreation and Athletic Center at UIS.

“I had been going to TRAC regularly and using a stationary bike. But during a conference in Cleveland, there were no stationary bikes, so I started using the treadmill,” he said.

Owen downloaded a fun-inspired Couch to 5K app on his phone when he returned to Springfield and headed back to TRAC, this time opting for the indoor track.
So far, he’s dropped between 80 and 90 pounds and feels better than ever.

“I’m adamant exercise was not the primary factor,” Owen said. “It was about controlling my eating. Exercise was just another way of getting into a healthy habit where I could feel the benefits of losing weight.”

Owen credits meal planning, shopping for and cooking heathier foods, and tracking his meals for most of his success. 

“I found that I liked roasted vegetables more than I thought. I learned to cook better,” Owen said. “When you’re limiting what you eat, you want to enjoy it more.”

And he has learned to enjoy running, and regularly runs more than a 5K.

“My ultimate goal is to break 20 minutes,” said Owen, whose Prairie Star 5K time this year was 20:22. “I’m frustratingly close, but close enough that I should get there soon.”

A worldwide pandemic may have thrown a wrench into his regular workout schedule, but Owen said that running gave him a sense or routine and the activity was a welcome change from being stuck at home. He appreciated the safety measures at the Prairie Star 5K.

“It was very carefully organized,” Owen said. “We never congregated in groups, there was a staggered start, and we lined up in rows that were 7 feet apart from other runners, 10 feet apart front and back.”

His advice to those thinking about getting started is simply to take the first step. 

“Don’t feel like you have to go fast. Run slowly, your body will adapt and you’ll get quicker naturally,” he said. “Go at a pace that is slow, then slow that down a bit.”

“A mile done slowly is a better than one you don’t run at all.”

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