Finding Runners Like Myself
By April Anderson
Women from across the globe who are dominating the world of sports. For me, the Black women making waves and finally getting the recognition they deserve are especially notable. From basketball to fencing, tennis, swimming and track, Black women are consistently kicking butt and taking names.
Growing up with a height advantage and moderate athletic ability, I aspired to one day become one of those gifted women I admired. I thought of running in two distinct categories: 1. as a way of conditioning for other sports and 2. as something best done by Olympic-level professional athletes. Having seen very few Black women in advertisements as everyday runners, it was a foreign concept to me that there might be women, particularly Black women, who were running just for the sake of running.
Runners Like Me
After living in D.C. for a few years I decided to seek out a group that specifically focused on Black athletes. This led me to my first run with District Running Collective. I was amazed that so many Black people showed up to run and joked that I supposed a culturally-diverse table tennis team was already taken.
To say that running with a diverse group of people who looked like me was a bit of a culture shock would be an understatement. My background had always consisted of me being one of very few Black women (if not the only one) in any group. As a person who had never experienced a community of this nature, I was instantly overwhelmed and excited by the concept.
That’s also when I realized the impact of seeing women who looked like me crushing goals that I thought were unattainable. There are women who lace up their shoes before and after work, class, church, second jobs, dates, and vacations and just get out there and run. When people see us out on a run, often the first thing they see is a group of Black women. Others can observe the support, encouragement and determination we share with every step.
Read more: Running #ForTheCulture: Dannielle McNeilly
Having representation in running not only gave me a sense of identity, but it gave me a sense of power. There were no more excuses on the table. If they could do it, so could I. Since joining a running community, I have completed four half marathons, several 10-milers, traveled to London for my first international race and challenged myself in more ways than I knew was possible.
I am capable of endless things. Though I am often scared and unsure if I will reach the finish line, at the end of the day, at each mile, I look around at the community of support that I have, and I just run.
Now, when people ask me if I am a runner, I tell them I’m “a runner with an asterisk” because I know that I am so much more.
RUNGRL Asks: How have you made connections with other runners? What do those running friendships mean to you? Share with us in the comments below!
April Anderson works as a Speech-Language Pathologist at a private practice in Washington, DC. She specializes in pediatric feeding therapy and is a Certified Lactation Counselor. She loves brunch, reading and cheering for LSU football. April enjoys staying active through running and social sports such as volleyball and softball. She’s currently training for the 2019 Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and the Brooklyn Half Marathon.