Marathon training program at ISCI

Inmate runners stand for photo

“This will be one of the most meaningful and significant things I will ever accomplish in my life,” said Stroud, an inmate at the Idaho State Correctional Institution (ISCI).

Comments like these are made all the time as about 20 inmates gather together Monday through Saturday to train for a marathon at ISCI.

The institution started its first ever Marathon Training program earlier this year and FSO Adah, a marathon runner, who has been with the Department for just under 3 years, oversees the program. 

The training program kicked off on March 1, 2018 after a 3-month pre-training program and will last 6 months into late August when the actual marathon is scheduled to take place. The program requires a lot of dedication and hard work, and even beginners who never ran a mile are doing well and becoming successful at training. 

We asked Officer Adah, why start a program like this?  Why here of all places? And why now? 

She replied that there are many inmates here at ISCI who are looking for avenues to better themselves and grow but lack the opportunities. In prison there is nothing but time, why not fill that time with positive goals that can teach people about who they are and what they can accomplish. As a taxpayer, it is hard seeing inmates spend most of their time watching TV and eating potato chips, and it is more frustrating to learn how the majority of these inmates go on to commit more crimes after they’ve been released, just to end up back in prison. 

There are guys in prison that are motivated to do a lot more with their time other than watch TV and mark their calendar. These men are motivated to better themselves and are terrified of ending back in prison after their release. They want change, they want to stretch themselves and achieve greatness, so why not give them the tools to succeed.  

Running offers many obvious health benefits but it also teaches self-discipline, self-worth, positive thinking, healthy eating habits, coping skills, sacrifice, teamwork, gratitude, overcoming trials and learning how to do hard things. Why not give the inmates something big to look forward to, like a marathon program?

Accomplishing something like this is no guarantee that an inmate will not re-offend once released, but it will give any person in the program an opportunity to see themselves and the world around them differently. The goal of the program is to give the inmates tools they’ll need to make better choices and cope with life once they get released.  

The program offers a high intensity work out with plenty of running. There are required weekly long runs with classes to educate participants on how to improve their running abilities. These preparations, if taken seriously, will be helpful on marathon day as participants endure the 26.2 miles run.

Officer Adah stated that the training will help them build up strength and endurance in a healthy way so that they can have a positive experience without injuries, and the best way to do that is through proper training, diet and a  good pair of running shoes.

She explained that the inmates  received high-quality running shoes for the program through a generous donation from Shu’s Idaho Running Company located right here in the Treasure Valley. The donation was a big part of making the whole program possible, these men are putting a lot of miles on their feet and great running shoes are a must.

The running shoes were well received, and here is what one inmate wrote about them:

I want to thank you, not for myself but for the other men who were blessed today.  Again through kindness and an awesome act of humanity and a love for running, thank you for the shoes.  Some inmates are fortunate to have support others aren’t, so we are limited our feet hurt, ankles hurt but we run. The shoes they sell are low-grade quality, unfortunately, people show up to run with soles torn, holes in their shoes stitched together by floss or patched with fabric, hand me downs but every day they show up to run no complaints.  The day your donated shoes showed up runners walked through the doors carrying despair, worry, no hope at times but today through your donations these men have hope! These shoes are some of the best the market has.  It was awesome, almost like Christmas!

“The program is life changing!” exclaimed Adah. She continued,it has only been 6 weeks and I already can see improvement and growth in these men, and surprisingly that growth has even extended to me as the coordinator. It is exciting to be a part of it, and I am so thankful for the huge support from fellow officers and also from the Administration.  The program wouldn’t have taken off without the green light from the administration. So far, it has been an exciting journey and I can’t wait to see who will make it to the finish line.

Story published: 05/03/2018
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