Running used to be an activity that I strongly detested. Growing up as a chubby little thing, I dreaded the days in gym class where we tested our strength and performed the mile run. Especially since everyone in the class was there to bare witness. We were young kids who took our personal records seriously. We either bragged about it to each other or tried to sneak into a different testing group, that your friends weren’t in, and make up your time. Either way, starting from grade school, I knew I wasn’t the most athletic child which left me open to vulnerabilities about the way I looked and my confidence in playing sports.
Fast-forward to now where I’ve transitioned my workout routine from a chore to being a part of my lifestyle. And what sport did I most recently pick up and fall absolutely in love with? Yes the sport of my ancestors, running.
Moving to Miami opened up so many opportunities that I hadn’t anticipated. The weather is beautiful, there is a vibrant and colorful Caribbean and South American culture and Nike’s run club group that has pushed me well onto my way of fitness goals. I began to see how easy it was to just get out and run the many walkways around the city. I downloaded the Nike app and started to record my time and milage to measure my progression. I began running once every two weeks or so. Then I discovered the group runs. That was a game changer. I was of course extremely nervous to run with a group of people (cue grade school flashbacks). But I pushed myself into the discomfort.
The group runs pushed me in the best ways possible. Although I didn’t know anyone at first, I felt the unspoken support in our strides. There was even an instance where I was at the end of a long 4 mile run, when I stopped because I had over exerted myself in the beginning. A fellow running mate patted me on the back and said, “c’mon we got this.” I’m proud to say that I’ve clocked in 57.3 miles since I began in November 2018. What’s also extremely cool are the dope events you get to be a part of when you use the running app (with the occasional free gifts).
The camaraderie I’ve experienced has been so motivating. Furthermore, these runs around the city have become a new way to discover the beauty of where I live. I even met an elder woman who came to Miami to run in her 172nd marathon last weekend. Un. Real. She’s a 69-year-old retired teacher from the suburbs of Detroit who told me that running has kept her physically, mentally, and spiritually centered all these years. Our conversation was the result of a pure chance encounter but the stories she shared deeply inspired me to make this sport a physical and metaphorical path of growth.
Lastly, I realized that one of the most important things about my runs is the music that plays as the backdrop for motivation. Check out my “running mate” playlist on Spotify. You’ll find an array of hip-hop, R&B, Afrobeat, Pop and some of my personal favorite Ethiopian hits!