Up until three years ago, St. John resident TJ Stoehr never ran a day in her life — now she is a pace leader for a local running group.

“The first time I went to Run to the Pub was in 2014 (In Illinois) and there were around 50 people there. I went home at 11 that night and never stopped going. It was always my favorite night of the week,” Stoehr said. “It’s fun and low pressure. You go do something good for yourself instead of meeting out on a Friday with some friends and drinking all night.”

Kelly Devine, of Devine Nutrition, started Run to the Pub in Illinois in 2012. The first Run to the Pub came to Northwest Indiana in March. The group meets once a week anywhere from three to six weeks at a runner-friendly pub.

“It’s to get people moving and get running. Most people complete the program and then do another six weeks 1 because you meet people. It's not like you run and then stop. You usually keep running. People who have continued with the program have lost weight. It’s accountability. You paid for it and so you show up,” said Devine, a registered dietitian and ACE-certified personal trainer.

The run begins with a half-mile and increases every week until the group reaches a 5K. Each run ends at the pub, where it began, and runners receive a free beer and raffle prizes.

“Some people are intimidated but it’s meant for beginners and the advanced runners just run more miles in a week. Trust me, you can run 30 seconds at a time and then walk for a minute or two,” Devine said.

Stoehr agrees with Devine.

"Our group is less intimidating. You join a running group and you think, 'Oh my gosh, what if all of these people are marathon runners?' But we're here to have fun," Stoehr said. "I just wanted to find people to run with and ended up meeting some of my favorite people."

Runners, walkers and joggers are divided into separate groups and lead by experienced running coaches. There also are different themes each week. For example, the fall series, which had about 40 runners, was hosted at Region Ale from Oct. 12 until Nov. 16. Each night had a theme, such as Blackhawks night, superhero night, crazy hat night, etc.

“Our team was really excited about this new endeavor, and we were even more excited to see the turn out. It's great that the community has come together to support Run to the Pub, and I can see this growing in the future. We really liked that this was a family event and, as a family-friendly restaurant, we welcome runners of all ages,” said Heather Danielewicz, manager at Region Ale.

The next Run to the Pub will be Dec. 7, 14 and 21 at 95ate5 Brew Pub in St. John. The cost is $30 and all proceeds will benefit a food bank in Northwest Indiana.

For more information, visit www.runtopub.net or devinenutrtion.com.

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