Last semester, willing students gathered together to start their training for the 5K race. This group, called the SSF Striders, began a Couch to 5K program so they could be in tip-top shape for the Education for Life race. The three residents who were the most dedicated to running the program would receive vouchers to run in the Education for Life 5K. Those three residents are Michael Gunter, Stephanie Zerbian, and Billie Whitehead, and they wanted to share about their experiences in the SSF Striders!

Michael Gunter


I am glad of my decision to run with the SSF Striders group. Having some time to do something personal helped me stay healthy, manage my time more effectively, and allowed me to meet new people. Prior to the Couch to 5K, I ran on occasion and didn’t prioritize exercising in my routine. Through this experience, I noticed that my overall level of energy during the day has improved, I gained an endurance which will serve well in the 5K, and I have made friends with some of the runners. I do not regret running with the Couch to 5K group, and I hope that the group continues into the next school year.

Steph Zerbian


Last semester I was coming into FSU with the determination to stay physically healthy in the midst of all my classes. I swam all throughout high school, and even though I love it, I was looking for new and quicker ways to stay in shape. I have always hated running and have never been very good at it. As the semester slowly progressed, I began to see that I had too much time on my hands and I was making unwise time management decisions. Luckily for me, around that time Barby set up the SSF Striders group. Although I have always been adamant against running, I thought I would give it a try. I enjoyed the first session well enough to continue with it even though most of our group stopped coming. As I continued with it, I realized that the reason I hated running was because I had never run with a group before. SSF Striders helped me to realize that running can be fun, even for a fish out of water like me, when you have the right group around you to encourage you and keep you accountable. I improved so much last semester, and even though our schedules are very busy this semester, we have stuck with it and continue to stick with it and persevere through hard runs. I can’t really say that I love running, but I can say that I love running with my friends and I feel proud of myself for doing something out of my comfort zone.

Billie Whitehead


Fall 2014 was my first semester at Florida State University and Southern Scholarship Foundation, and soon after I arrived I heard about SSF Striders. I’ve always loved running and I felt like it could be a great opportunity. Running with like-minded people is always more fun than running alone! Of course, as the semester wore on obligations increased, and fewer and fewer people managed to make the twice weekly meetings (I was only able to make one practice a week myself). Though the numbers of the group changed, we still had a solid core who met every week, and after working out a new schedule, we have continued to meet this semester. I feel like Striders has definitely encouraged and motivated me to keep up with one of my favorite pastimes. Running with great individuals who are all equally committed to running with the group, and making progress as a group, is definitely motivating on days when running might seem more like a chore than a hobby.

Be sure to join us this Saturday at our Education for Life 5K and where you can run alongside these SSF Striders across the finish line! The race starts at 8:00am at the FSU College of Medicine and registration opens at 6:45am. Come out, invite your friends, and join our runners as we stride towards an Education for Life!

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