Who Run the World; Not a trick question

img1592225938848In the words of Beyonce, “Who run the world…” I don’t think it was a question as much as it was a rallying cry for women everywhere to stand up and take their place. I’m happy to say we are responding in ways, means, and numbers like never before. Pretty cool but we’re also having everyone along for the ride, it’s a wonderful thing to see. Of course I’m using the song as a metaphor of sorts to the movement for change that is sweeping across this nation and around the world. But the truth is we’ve left the song behind awhile back when the protesters became bigger than any one group, class, or segment of people, when people everywhere decided that injustice is a humanity problem and a call to be our brother’s keeper. The irony of ironies is that while we’re marching in our cities together, we’re still, for the most part, running and working out alone.

Here in NYC, we’re in the initial phase of reopening since the March shutdown due to Covid-19. Major solo runs are still my thing and I’m also cycling every which way in an attempt to discover the borough of Queens and, if I’m being honest, stave off boredom as well. I’m heartened to see some of the local running organisations coming up with various challenges to keep people motivated and running in and around the city these days, God knows we need all the motivation we can get. This way many have the opportunity to run wherever they can and  get a medal for their efforts if they’re so inclined.  I, too, would like to encourage you to set some running intentions for yourselves during this summer. Only make sure to run smart – for me this means running early mornings and late evenings in order to minimize heat and sun exposure, and please, hydrate properly.

I wouldn’t ever suggest something that I haven’t already done or that I didn’t think has some measure of interest or value. Because I know these times are challenging enough as it is and we, meaning me primarily, need to stay running or else, I think it’s a good idea to set some intentions with the least amount of stress involved. During these times it’s primarily up to us to motivate and hold ourselves accountable. How or if you implement any of these ideas is really up to you. Only be sure to have fun, be safe, and stay healthy.

  • Set a mile/distance challenge – a fix number of (uncommon amount, it’s a challenge after all eg. 100) miles you want to run in the next few weeks, say 6-8 weeks, and make sure you have a comfortable pair of running shoes and log your milage on Strava. 
  • Set a bridges challenge. We have lots of bridges here in NYC, pick some or pick all. Log your miles, take photos and post them.
  • Choose various places of interest to run to and make it a discovery run – maybe one per week. Take pictures. You can even journal your runs and discoveries. I’m only recently coming to know my neighborhood and environs and I’ve lived there for over 5 years!
  • Train for and run a marathon distance. I would go so far as to say if you live here in the city to run the NYC Marathon route if possible. Obviously, if you’re a newbie runner I wouldn’t recommend this, I recommend working towards a half marathon distance instead. There are numerous training plans online to help with training or you can always ask me!
  • Forgoing the NYC Marathon, you can run the 5-borough  challenge if you live in or around the city. Running Queens, Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island is no easy feat. You can divvy it up and choose your milage and where and when with the goal of completing a run in each borough in the decided-upon time. It’s also an opportunity to discovery your city! You can totally customize this idea to wherever you are and add a local twist.

Since you’re running solo, it’s important for you, the runner, to make an effort to include others in your efforts to help motivate yourself but also you just might inspire someone. I encourage you to post pictures, share insights, stories on your discoveries,  your mileage, and any other information you might have learned or found useful, which can be helpful to others. Another idea might be to start a running blog – of sorts – to share your running journey during these momentous times. Where that may lead is anyone’s guess. But you’re bound to have something to share – a story to tell even – and it might just inspire someone to start their own journey.

Redefining Running (Part 2)

ultra_marathon_tatry_5_by_gupol-d73yise
In the first part of this topic we discussed the evolution of running and I highlighted some of newer aspects of our sport, which takes us beyond the typical run-for-health-or-exercise reasons to that of fun and competition. We explored this in the context of ultra running events for those of us who wanted to expand our horizons and push our limits; no longer accepting of the status quo or what it means to be the average runner.

I find this new push for endurance racing or running quite interesting, first because it indicates the presence of a relentless and demanding drive in our personalities that mirrors that of the competitive athlete: supremely confident and highly driven to achieve one’s personal best, and second, because now I’m curious about the extent of our drive for self-actualization in running: what does this mean for the future of running and how far can our desire for more take us?

While those questions are sure to set us a’wondering, it behooves us to consider how far we’ve progressed since the days of Pheidippides (our marathon namesake) and to see the evolution of running as the natural progression of a sport of passion, which brings us to my first point: the personality of the runner who determines that a marathon is no longer enough. I can safely say I identify since I know what it is to achieve your first marathon – the anticlimax of a build up of complex emotions: demanding physical and mental preparedness coupled with extreme psychological and physical adjustments. The finish line is now associated with time, medal and the next event. Crazy right. I recall completing my first marathon, was it only last year – deep in the bellies of pain – and there I was thinking of the next one, which was to be less than two months away, and the next, a month later. Now I’m at crossroads, considering my first ultra event next year. Sure I have set other goals along the way, like completing the World Marathon Majors and running some of the most amazing and toughest courses, however, now I have a new goal: completing a triathlon next year while vaguely in the distance I can detect the shaping up of an iron man. I have demanded of my mind to stop there though I suspect there are a lot more ideas buzzing around. In this instance, I find the challenge to be one of keeping focus on one goal at a time and not splitting oneself into various parts attempting to achieve different things. But it’s always right there on the periphery of my mind; what’s next, where to run, how can I get faster, be stronger, do better next time? For there is never a doubt that there will be a next time only a matter of when.

Many runners share this crazy passion, always on the look out for the next big race or event. Whether it’s cross-country, over trails and mountains, across ice, over rocks, through streams and in valleys, over five hours or a couple of days, I will go so far as to say we thrive on it; our aphrodisiac if you will – what stimulates and motivates us to being better people and better athletes. If you’ve ever faced the question of – why do you do it – then you know deep down that it’s as simple as, why not. The training, sacrifice, dedication, and various daily deprivations, that’s the hard part. Then again, it comes with the guarantee of an utter sense of fulfillment upon completion of each big one. So indeed, why not.

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