First of eight Cooper River Bridge Run training clinics starts this week

Not only are the training camps for the Cooper River Bridge Run starting earlier than usual this year, the 31st annual Charlie Post Classic 15K and 5K will be held Saturday - a full three weeks earlier than usual. David Quick/Staff

With the passing of New Year's Day weekend, it's time to start thinking about Charleston's most popular rite of spring: the Cooper River Bridge Run and Walk,

With the 38th annual Bridge Run starting a week earlier this year than most, March 28, because of Easter falling on April 5, many of the training programs are beginning this week instead of next.

The first of two "official" Cooper River Bridge Run clinic, conducted by Bridge Run staff, kicks off Tuesday.

The 10-week clinics will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesdays at the Medical University of South Carolina Wellness Center and 6 p.m. Wednesdays at the Mount Pleasant Municipal Complex track.

The cost is $75 and the deadline to enter is today.

Local triathlete and trainer Lauren Wilson is gearing her Bridge Run camp with performance in mind. Weekly group training sessions will incorporate endurance, speed and strength work to make participant run faster and more efficiently.

The 10-week program, which costs $99 and starts today, includes a TrainingPeaks account to received daily workouts.

While technically the Summerville Family YMCA will hold 10K training programs for its Shamrock Shuffle (the former Flowertown Festival Run), to be held March 14 in Summerville, it too prepares many in the north area for the Bridge Run, as well.

The camps, which start Tuesday, will be 10-11 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the YMCA at The Ponds. An evening clinic will be Tuesdays and Thursdays at the YMCA in downtown Summerville. All will meet for runs at 8 a.m. Saturdays at various locations.

The cost is $65 for YMCA members and $90 for non-members. The price includes the entry fee to the Shamrock Shuffle.

Personal trainer Lois Jones Smith is holding a 10-week "Get Over It" clinic at 7:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting Thursday, at Eco Fitness in Mount Pleasant. The cost is $199 for members and $249 for non-members and includes body age assessments, strength workouts, a running program, flexibility and stretching sessions and nutritional counseling. Because of issues with ECO's website today, Smith says those interested can contact her directly at (843) 252-4204 for more details.

Need a little more time?

Fleet Feet Sports in Mount Pleasant will hold a 10K training program to get locals ready for the Bridge Run, too. The information meeting for the program will be at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 14 at the store. Workouts start Jan. 20 and will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesdays and 8 a.m. Saturdays. The cost is $75.

Gaia Fit running coach Jennifer Tyson will hold Bridge Run training camp weekly group distance runs at 7:30 a.m. Sundays either at Smythe Park on Daniel Island or the Cooper River bridge, and speed workouts at 5:30 p.m. at the Bishop England High School track or the bridge. The camp, which cost $100, starts Jan. 18.

The most economical of all the Bridge Run clinics, especially for families, is one being conducted by Louie's Kids, the locally based nonprofit dedicated to fighting childhood obesity.

Louie's Kids is holding its first Bridge Run training camp, dubbed "Meet Under the Bridge to Get Over It," 6:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays starting Jan. 20 at Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park. The program, taught by local volunteers in the health and fitness community, is designed for families of any physical fitness level to come together and get fit in a 10-week course prior to the 10K run.

The cost is $25 per family. Attendance is mandatory and all children must be accompanied by an adult.

And for the procrastinators extraordinaire, the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission is starting its "Run/Walk Your Way to a 10K" clinics, geared for the Bridge Run, later in January.

A clinic held 8:30-9:30 a.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at James Island County Park will start Jan. 26. One held 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at Palmetto Islands County Park in Mount Pleasant will start Jan. 27. And one held 7:30-8:30 a.m. Tuesday and Thursdays at Wannamaker County Park in North Charleston will start Jan. 27.

The cost is $68 for county residents and $82 for nonresidents. The cost includes the registration for the race.

Reach David Quick at 937-5516.