Life Around Running

Source: runningfitnessmag.com

                Source: runningfitnessmagcom

I often hear the expression “I am not my job,” with a bit of ambivalence. I’m not sure, but how do you get up for the most part, five days per week and spend eight to ten hours at a job for years and not become some part of what you do? It’s like saying, I don’t smoke, but I sell cigarettes. Maybe it begins as just a job, but I think that if you do “it” for long enough it becomes a bit more than that. Like Aristotle, I too, believe you become what you repeatedly do, sometimes with little effort on your part; however, more often effort is the game changer. Some would argue that effort actually turns mediocrity into super real talent; add a little passion, and the result is unparalleled excellence.

“So what of a social life?” “Do you guys live outsider of running?” Someone once asked. Most runners will say running is a social sport. I recently went to a birthday event of a runner friend and was thrilled to meet other runners to which races and PRs and other running chit-chat was par for the course. What can I say, you get a bunch of runners in a room and it’s bound to happen. We eat, shop, dress, socialize, serve – and if we could – work; all in the context of running. It is what we do and while there may be times of disappointment, we factor it in as part of life and never a result of running.

The life of a runner is spent pretty much.. well.. running; life happens while, when, and on the run. Just like with any other passion in life, running becomes the central activity that everything else adjusts to. The average runner prepares and trains for a race not with that race as the necessary goal but always with his or her eyes on an even bigger race/ prize. Technically there’s no off-season so it’s year-round training and racing with a slight let-up in colder months.

“Slow down,” many, who clearly don’t get it will often say. They see the constant movement as a dissatisfaction with life and self, not understanding the innate desire for personal achievement and wanting to make a difference the best way we know how. Ultimately, it is what drives us and gives purpose to our lives; why we live to run and surround ourselves with all things running. For the non-runner, your challenge is to discover your passion -whatever it is- and run with it. Your happiness depends on it.

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Running Groups Rock!

Source: precisionfitpb.com

Source: precisionfitpb.com

They’re that bunch of people you sometimes catch a glimpse of as the run by followed by infectious laughter and animated chatter, and sometimes, the tell-tale sounds of a playlist. I used to sneer at the raucousness, all serious and solitary-like,  wondering if they seriously got any anything done until I understood the camaraderie-boosting and encouraging spirit that embodies the running group.

Very early on my view of running had always been that of a get-out-there-get-the-job-done kinda sport with not much room for socializing on the course. I mean, who wants to be fighting to conserve energy one minute and wasting it in the next breath. My reasoning, though sensible, was flawed as it left no room for the ability to converse at varied paces as well as the need and right by some runners, to seek clarification, encouragement or even the opportunity to distract themselves from, what may be, a tough run. I felt it was do it, get over it..why prolong the suffering. My reward was delayed gratification via a race of some kind where my pace, form and endurance told the story of my application. “Where’s the fun in that?” You may rightly ask. My response is absolutely no where. Thank God I grew and matured in my views; it opened up a world of knowledge and opportunity in my running life.

I have come to appreciate and even love the running group. I now understand the dynamics at work with the aim of fostering a community of like-minded people who share a common passion. I’m such a convert that when my schedule allows, I’m first up and looking to hook myself up to the closest one; talk about transformative thinking. Here’s why my views changed:

-Running groups are a good way to meet people and make friends. It provides the avenue for social interaction and has become the basis for many a meaningful and lasting connection.

-Such groups are a deep well of encouragement, knowledge and opportunity to the runner, providing information on issues from nutrition to injury prevention and every and anything that concerns running.

-A running group is your very own personal cheer squad. They not only provide you with the impetus for running and training, being right there with you on your journey, but come the all-important race day, they are there to cheer you along and celebrate with you.

-Groups provide a benchmark for your development and success with the varied paces they offer. The average runner starts out running at any given pace but with repeated effort and training gets better and better and can measure their progress.

-They have the in when it comes to first-hand information on registration, specials, giveaways and discounts on races and can often-times provide group deals on running apparel and incentives for runners.

-Joining a running group or club comes with the opportunity to advance your running game. You can gain points and bragging rights depending on the competitive nature of the club.

-Most groups are free and only require you to show up while running clubs often ask a nominal fee to cover operational costs which is nothing compared to an annual gym membership.

-Also, you get the chance to be passionate for a good cause. Groups participate in charity events like Cancer walks, runs and relays and you have the opportunity to take a stand and make a difference.

Here in New York City we boast an endless array of running groups from the fun meet-ups to the competitive clubs, there is a group for everyone. Whether you’re a twice-a-week runner for fun or you’re training for a marathon or 5k, whether you thinking about starting, just started or have been running forever you can find your place or pace among dozens of runners who feel you.

Some of the well-known running groups in major cities including here in NYC stem from the stores that sell sports and running wear: Nike, Lululemon, Paragon, Northface, the Running Company and Jack Rabbit while some popular running clubs in and around the city include: New York Road Runners -host of the New York City Marathon, Central Park Track Club, New York Flyers, Front Runners, Dashing Whippets, Brooklyn Ross Runners, Forest Park Runners, Van Cortland Track Club among many others. All paces are welcome.

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It is the quintessential uniqueness of New York that welcomes all runners of all abilities to come and share their love, their story, their experience, their encouragement with every and anyone lucky enough to call it home. If that isn’t enough reason to love them, then I don’t know what is.

 

Is there a Runner’s code?

2014 Boston Marathon

                   2014 Boston Marathon

“That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I’d just run across the great state of Alabama. And that’s what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going.”  – Forrest

Quite a few times in my writings you may have seen me close off with the term – “runner’s honor.” As to whether there is indeed such a thing, I can only speculate and hope, on good basis I might add, since my observations & experiences with runners over the years have been overwhelmingly positive. I surmise that in all likelihood there exists an unspoken but very real code of honor that we runners adhere to. If I were to put it in words it would look something like the above quote from the movie Forrest Gump.

Formost among others, runners have an enormous capacity for endurance and the unerring and dogged ability to pursue a thing to its end.  Fortified with vision and purpose, there is little that can stand in the way of us realizing our goals.  Day after day, week after week, month after month, we condition our minds, bodies and spirits to achieving the pinnacle of our dreams through tireless practice, the sacrifice of other pleasures and dedication of our time. We are the most accomplished when we’ve gotten our daily run in.  Runners recognize that we belong to a community of passionate believers, that many will call crazy, who respect the human body as being the ultimate machine that will take us as far as we let it – only insofar as we care for and treat it right.

Runners share a camaraderie of spirit which propels us to encourage and cheer on fellow runners. This is evidenced by the many times I have either been on the receiving end of, or given, words of encouragement or a running hand to other runners on the course. Also, runners expect and give respect on the course. It can be harrowing sometimes at the start and at other points on the course with the share numbers out there; while competitiveness is the norm, we never allow this to overstep our respect for the runner behind, in front or beside us, giving way or making way as we run along. Another code runners honor is that of the injured runner. We look out for, ask after and if necessary give comfort and support to those who are hurt or in pain. Here, I particularly remember the Boston Marathon of 2013; a tragedy that touched the world but more so, the running community. Everyone united “Boston Strong” and ran for months after in support and solidarity with those injured and the three spectators that died that day. Even today we speak of them with such pride and admiration. Still, we are mindful of our purpose and will no sooner see a runner helped than we are off single-mindedly to pursue our goal.

Additionally, an important code runners share is their solidarity to the sport and sometimes cause of running. Runners unite in the achievement and vision of other runners and support the advancement of the sport and the use of running as a platform to make a difference in our world. It does not take ingenuity to decide that running can impact the lives of thousands but it does take ingenuity to decide to run to make this happen. Time and again, we dedicate out time and talent to transforming lives through our passion for running. We spearhead, support and enlist the help of our running and wider community to highlight the disadvantages that many in our world face through many charities and causes. Lastly, runners are continuously inspired to run longer, faster and stronger. We are united in our efforts to become the absolute best version of ourselves, which simply means constantly pushing beyond perceived limits and challenging ourselves to another PR.

As with all things human, we will often find a lot to complain and disagree about, and if we look well enough we may even find those that do not ascribe to the general code, but I argue that they would be the exception to the rule. Runners by far are the most giving, gregarious, open and welcoming folks I have had the fortune to know. I do no say it lightly when I say runners rock. They do!

Dress for Success in Confident, Goal-getter Running Gear this Year

exerciseDuly noted, our goals remain the one thing that stands between us and us being persons of our word.  It is not enough that we’ve made a list, written it down and stuck it somewhere; it remains our greatest challenge to realize those plans of ours.  How do we remain fitted in the zeal, confidence and enthusiasm, that surely had us in its grip on the onset of planning, during the succeeding months of reality which can oftentimes be brutally harsh and unyielding.  I posit that there are a few key ingredients to realizing a successful 2015.  While a big part of success in any area of life depends on planning and execution, another just as or some may argue even more important part, depends on our attitude and perspective.  In running and exercise, attitude really is everything.  It is the one thing that will keep you going when everything else and everyone says you can’t.  The course of history has been changed on the account of its movers’ and shakers’ attitudes.  Your health and lifes’ ambitions are no different nor are they any less important in terms of their ability to change your world and thus impact the larger world.

Dress for success with:

  • Preparedness; there is no goal killer like having a plan without preparation.  By definition it is what planning entails and so it is super important to not only dress the part but be mentally, physically and emotionally ready and able to carry out your plan.  If you’ve decided to join a gym for example, then getting gym oriented and learning about the services, classes, equipment etc. that are available will put you in a better position to plan your activities and time around what you decide to do thus affording you the opportunity to maximise your participation and the benefits which can be derived.  Talk with a personal trainer, an instructor or even sign up for a trial to see if it’s a good fit.  If it’s running, then start of with small goals and even a running group, get a couple of books and read up on beginning running techniques or even watch a couple of videos.
  • Confidence; a big part in carrying out any physical goal is how we perceive ourselves.  We are sometimes our worst critic, while this is not always bad, it is our worst attribute when directed at our perceived flaws and shortcomings.  It is important to be able to face yourself – take a long, hard look in the mirror – and like what you see.  It is because you love yourself, you want better for you. Don’t chaff at that.  Meet your eyes and tell yourself what you are going to achieve together..yes it’s a mind and body effort, one you must continually be engaged in encouraging and uplifting.  While it is important to get this affirmation from others as well,  it would mean nothing if you didn’t believe it first.
  • Passion; I’m sure you’ve heard it said that if you like something it’s easier done.  Discovering your passion, something you really enjoy, is a key part to realizing your potential and being successful.. whether it’s running, a cardio class, yoga, swimming, whatever you decide to love -sometimes it has to be a decision- do with passion, enthusiasm, commitment and diligences, you will reap the benefit.
  • Focus and Wisdom; it is better to stick with what you know and apply yourself to perfecting it than to be divided among competing interests where you can’t get anything right.  Let’s say for example co-ordination is a challenge, then skip the dance class for a spin or yoga class.  That being said, there’s nothing wrong with challenging yourself to try different things and acquiring different skills, on the contrary, more power to you.  In all things apply wisdom so you never end up biting off more than you can chew.

A Happy, Successful and Goal-Achieving new year is up to you.  Have so much fun!

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