Most people make New Year’s resolutions they don’t keep.
Life just seems to get in the way, and goals become too hard to reach.
But two teachers at Jack P. Nix Primary School in Cleveland have found the secret to keeping a New Year’s resolution is accountability.
In 2012, Keleen Cody and Kim Sosebee resolved to participate in a 5K race every month for the whole year. They finished their 12th race in December.
“This is the first resolution I’ve kept over the years,” Cody said.
Sosebee said this was the first time she kept one of hers, too.
“It’s better to do it with a friend because they’ll hold you accountable,” Cody said.
For the most part, they looked forward to their monthly races, but when the
inevitable challenge arose the friends were there keeping each other on track.
Sosebee said she could have easily put off the race in November when she had gall bladder surgery, but Cody was there to encourage her.
“She told me ‘You have to do it. You’ve done it this long,’” Sosebee said.
As a reward for their perseverance, the teachers have amassed a collection of T-shirts since most races provide participants with a shirt.
Every Monday, they wear their shirts or “5K uniforms” to school.
Sosebee said the shirts provide an opportunity to talk with her second-grade students about healthy activities.
“It’s kind of cool to have that conversation,” Sosebee said. “I’ll say ‘Yes, I am a grandmother and yes I am retiring but I can do this.’”
Cody talks to her kindergarten students about the races, too. She said they seem to think the race distance is quite impressive.
“I would hope that would inspire some of them down the road in their health and encourage them to stay active,” Cody said.
But the pair haven’t just inspired their students. They’ve encouraged friends and family members to participate, too.
Sosebee posts photos of their races on Facebook.
She said several of her friends have expressed an interest in participating, too. She said all people need is a good pair of shoes and a good attitude.
“Some people will say ‘Well, I can’t do that because I don’t run,’” Sosebee said. “Well I don’t (run) either but the environment is that you don’t feel bad if you come in last. People are still there clapping for you.”
The women explained that the good thing about participating in the 3.1-mile race is that it’s a distance anyone can manage, not just regular runners.
“I think some people get intimidated by serious runners,” Sosebee said. “But it’s for everybody, runners and walkers. Don’t let that intimidate you. If you can walk through your neighborhood, then you can do this.”
Both women exercise regularly but neither considers herself a “runner.” They have different fitness levels and different goals for each race.
Cody will often run as much of the race as she can. Sosebee is content to walk the distance at a quick pace.
The women line up together at the start of the race and take off at their individual pace when the signal is given.
“She takes off when they say go,” Sosebee said, laughing. “She’s gonna finish before me, but I don’t feel lonely doing it by myself. I got over that the first few times. There is always someone you can chat with, but it’s not the kind of thing where you have to have someone to talk to.”
Sosebee said the best part of participating in 5K races is she never felt like she was in competition with anyone other than herself.
“I felt like I was just trying to beat my own time,” Sosebee said. “I just wanted to do a couple of minutes or seconds better than I did the month before. That was my goal, but I wasn’t so concerned with the time as much as just doing it.”
Over time, both women saw improvements in their fitness. If they didn’t beat their personal record, there were other victories like not being as sore the next day or just knowing that they were one step closer to reaching their goal.
Each month the women took turns deciding on which race to sign up for. The only stipulations were the proceeds from the race had to benefit a charity in North Georgia.
Sosebee organizes a 5K event, “Remember-Respond-Run,” in Cleveland each year that provides a scholarship in honor of White County educators who have died from cancer. Sosebee said she knows firsthand how these events can make a big difference for small charities.
“I think I’ve helped myself and other people too,” Sosebee said.
Over the year, the pair have supported groups like the Humane Society and Boys & Girls Clubs and individuals with cancer or other health problems.
The teachers have already started planning their 2013 New Year’s resolutions. This year they’ll do it again with a few more friends. Sosebee’s daughter and two of her friends plan on participating in 5K races each month.
“We just have a good time,” Cody said. “It’s nice to be able to share that with a friend.”