"Couch to 5K" and Financial Literacy Education

There are good gifts and bad gifts.

A Christmas gift I got for my wife qualifies for the latter. You see, she's a dedicated and talented runner. I am the exact opposite. Time after time after time she has asked to me run with her. Just as often, I have said no.

In a moment of weakness I saw an ad for a "Couch to 5k" training class, and decided it would be a good idea for me to join. After the 12-week program, I will supposedly be able to run a 5k race with my wife. So, instead of spending $135 on another Christmas gift she would return (and give me the stink eye over), this would be my opportunity to spend the same amount on a (albeit delayed) shared experience.

Tonight was the first class. The takeaways were powerful...and had little to do with running.


1. Free is Forgettable. During warm up walking (it's couch to 5k, OK?) two ladies behind me mentioned that even though $135 was a lot of money to pay for something like this, it was the only way they would force themselves to go through it. If they hadn't paid, it would be much easier to skip classes.

2. Accountability (Guilt) Creates Results. Each class, you are required to sign in and sign out. You perform each exercise in front of your peers. One lady I talked to said that she totally didn't want to go tonight, but she didn't want to let her friend down.

3. We're Terrible at Grading Ourselves. "Couch to 5k" clearly targets novice runners. While I saw many people who looked like they honestly pulled themselves off of the couch, Doritos crumbs and all, to go to the class, there were plenty of seasoned runners in the class as well. My take? There are people who need help and ask for it, and those who enjoy opportunities to feel like achievers. Both groups need attention.

4. Just Because It's Obvious (or Simple), Doesn't Mean Someone Else Is Offering It. Another conversation I had was with a guy named George. He was an experienced runner, but pays for and attends the classes because "no one else offers anything like this." A lady jogging next to me drove 50 miles each way to participate. Anyone could launch a program like this, but only one group did.

Forget I'm talking about running for a second and think about your credit union's financial literacy education initiatives. You have a gift to give. You just have to decide to give it.