“What Are You Running For?”

 Photo by Na'Tasha J.

Photo by Na'Tasha J.

By Natalie Robinson

As my girls and I make our way down the sidewalks and streets of D.C., we often breeze past pedestrians who are out for a stroll, headed to dinner, walking their dog or running their evening errands. It’s common for someone to ask, “What are ya'll running for?”

Good question!

Are we racing each other down the block? Are we training for a race? Are we running for a cure? I find these questions especially interesting since many of us running together are black women. Are they asking because they haven’t seen many black women running the streets of D.C. before?

When I ask myself why I run, many things come to mind. I can sum it up here with my top reasons to run:

Health

Let’s face it, tacos taste good. I’m not going to stop eating them. Period. However, running affords me the opportunity to steadily fight against the generational health issues so many African Americans battle. When I run, I am choosing to do something to fight off obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

New Friends

I’ve met some incredible friends along my running journey. The love and joy we have for running brought us together and many friendships and relationships have formed. Without running as the bridge, I don’t know if I would have met these wonderful people any other way.

Sense of Community

When you meet good friends, you begin building a community. You find others who are on your same mission, who support and pour into each other.

Gooooaaalllls

Running is so multifaceted. You can challenge yourself and reach countless goals within the realm of running. Some things you might ask yourself:

  • “What number of miles am I shooting for this week?”
  • “Will I beat my 5k time from last year?”
  • “Will I get out there and do more cold weather running this winter?”
  • “Will I have several negative splits in my next race?”
  • Or, if you are just starting out, “Should I just get started already?”

Whatever your goal is, running allows you to become a better you, one run at a time. Each run is a step closer to reaching the goals you have set forth for yourself.

It’s Therapy

With so many distractions and noise in the world, running gives me a place where I can just lose myself and clear my mind. It’s my happy place, it’s my peace.  It gives me the opportunity to reflect and meditate on the day, all while getting in a good workout. Running relieves me of the stress of the day and allows if not just 30 minutes of a clear, eased mind. Post run, I always feel energized, happy, awake, and accomplished that I raked up more miles.

Cute Run Gear

I’m a firm believer of when you look good, you feel good. With that, you want to feel your good going out for those runs. There is something about a fresh pair of running tights that gives you a slight boost to go test them out. Fitness gear has come a long way from sweat pants and slouchy socks. With running gear so widely available and increasingly stylish, there are tons of options for you to choose from.

Getting to Know Your City

There are so many places I have discovered on foot that I would have never seen by simply driving by. Running in D.C. has so many benefits. You get a chance to not only get up close to the many monuments around town, but you get to explore the unique neighborhoods that make this city what the beautiful place that it is. I love running through the various neighborhoods, checking out the exclusive DC architecture, getting a whiff of the different foods from the local restaurants (oh, is that bread I smell?), discovering local businesses I didn’t know existed, and exploring different scenic trails. There’s so much to see right in your own backyard and running lends itself as a lens to do that.

Representation

There is something extremely powerful in seeing someone like you, a black woman, who is out there running these miles. For every block, street, 5K, half marathon, marathon--whatever distance you’re out there running--it matters, it counts and it’s powerful.

It’s no secret that running in America, specifically distance running, is a sport dominated by Caucasians. Running USA’s 2017 National Runner Survey estimates that frequent distance runners are 84 percent white. In addition, women make up 63 percent of runners. However, of those women, Running USA’s 2014 Women’s National Runner Survey estimates that a mere 4.2 percent are black women.

And yet, each year these numbers are growing. So what does this mean?

Most of us aren’t Olympians, track stars or elite-level athletes. We are everyday black women striving to be better, stronger and healthier, and to serve as an inspiration to our peers and the younger generation by representing.

Being a black woman runner shouldn’t be an anomaly. RUNGRL is on a mission to change that.


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Natalie Robinson

Chief Sponsorship Officer