This month we have a guest blogger, Eric Thomas, one of our awesome Ambassadors. Check out what he has to say about the benefits of a running “family”.
It’s 4:45 a.m. on an early Saturday morning in March of this year and the alarm on my phone goes off. I’m in a great slumber before the buzzing, whistling, and illumination of the screen brings me completely out of my brief hibernation from the early 9 o’clockish bedtime I set for myself the Friday night before. I quickly hop up, get dressed, and go through my ninja routine while not trying to wake a soul in the house. I gather my gear and get water and other essentials for the morning group run/walk with my run family. It is still dark out around this time as we are still a few days away from the annual ritual that is daylight savings time. The weather is still cool, a brisk 42 degrees, I notice on the thermostat from inside my car as I get out and place the water stops on our route for the morning run.
I make it back to the starting point near Railroad Park in downtown Birmingham at about ten minutes until 6 a.m. just in time to watch others slowly pull up for our 6 a.m. start time. I have repeated this routine on just about every Saturday for the last 7 years, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Some of us are literally on two wheels getting here, coming from all over the metro area for a few miles of fitness, fellowship, and foot strikes on the pavement through the heart of the city. We come from all different backgrounds; doctors, paralegals, business owners, trainers, nurses, manufacturing, Corporate America and more. All different walks of life; men, women, students, grandparents, Black, White, German, American, single, married, etc.
We all have our different reasons for why we started this lifestyle of running/walking. It is definitely a lifestyle because it is something that has become ingrained in us and we have become passionate about it. My reason for starting running goes back to 9 years earlier when I was tired all the time, classified as obese, and diagnosed as being at risk for heart disease. You see, I didn’t start out running, walking, or even exercising right away. I kind of took a little bit of a detour route to get by until I finally got tired of the expensive medications and decided to make a change with getting active. I walked, jogged, and ran a little off and on for a couple of years until I found a group of people who really encouraged me to keep coming out and to stick with this running and fitness thing.
That group was Black People Run Bike and Swim, and I still run with them to this very day. Along the way with their encouragement and support, my enjoyment of running became a passion that led me to becoming a certified run coach over 4 years ago and starting my run coaching business, Fit 2 Finish Strong. That is my story for why I started walking/running and being active in general.
If you ask anyone who runs with me in the group, I am sure you will get a compelling and unique story from each one of them as to why they started. But I know for sure why they have stuck with it. Not because they enjoy going to bed really early on a Friday night when everyone else seems like they are hanging out or staying up late. Not because they enjoy getting up at 4:45 a.m. or earlier depending on how many miles they have that day. Not because they enjoy brisk March mornings or worse; chillier, wintry December or January mornings where the temp may not crack 32 degrees.
We met up and have kept meeting up for the most part on each Saturday for the last 7 years because we have formed a family of runners/walkers away from our respective families. We hold each other accountable. We cheer each other on. We run when we need to run and we walk when we need to walk. We leave no man/woman behind and help each other get it done whether in a race or just a training run. We root for each other’s successes and pick each other up when we fall short or get injured. That is what joining a group does, it gives you all the built-in support you will ever need. The 100 Alabama Miles Challenge builds on this and that’s why I believe in it. We are Alabama’s fitness family and we are all in it together. On a journey to reach 100 miles, one mile at a time.