I’m a social worker and a runner. I’m passionate about both, as both activities can promote growth during difficult times.

I ran 373.12 miles in 2012 (for my UK friends, that’s 600.4784 kms) and I resolved at the beginning of 2013 that I would run more this year. I’m not a marathon runner (yet), but bit by bit, I’ll one day get there. This post was written to celebrate a sport that has recently been in the news for not-so-happy reasons, as those events made me feel sad that anyone could disrupt such a happy occassion.

Running is an activity I enjoy for the dedication and positive energy that runners put into it.

Identity: Runner

A friend of mine were talking and I listed the gear that I use: I found myself speaking for a good minute when I listed all of the gear I have purchased over the last year. I also cited information I obtained from reading Runner’s World Magazine, Runner’s World Complete Book of Running, and briefly explained to him foam rolling before it hit me – Holy smokes! I’m a runner!

Is this gonna be a self-aggrandizing post by a runner? Let’s hope not!
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Why I Run

I run for health reasons, primarily, to control my weight and to not develop type-II diabetes. The runner’s high is pretty good when it comes to me, and it just feels like I accomplished something when running three miles during my lunch break.

Working in a profession that includes the dreaded sedentary lifestyle (i.e. sitting) as well as high-stress and fast-paced periods, thirty minutes during my lunch helps me to reduce stress, conquer the road, and reduce stress.

I sometimes dislike running. While I like running outside, I hate the cold air shredding my lungs. Some people embrace soreness as evidence of growth, but it’s not for me. Sometimes there’s a need to avoid people (especially smokers) on the trail near my home. However, running has helped me lose weight and it eases feelings of insecurity to have a hobby that many people loathe (and franky, don’t understand).

I am blessed to be able-bodied and able to run.

Camaraderie

My first race was a 5K for the Monterey Rape Crisis Center this year and it was pretty goshdarn awesome! The vibe, the energy, the folks being nice to each other… everyone in their own world and everyone together, working to finish what they started.

Today, I volunteered for the Big Sur International Marathon and the energy from folks that were in Boston this year, as well as all the runners who trained so hard to be at this race, was dang awesome! Not to mention the gratitude felt from handing out water to these runners validated waking up at 3 AM to be there at the start of the race!

The Running Gear That I Use

My Running Gear Packing List in Evernote (listed under this image)

In Evernote, I stay organized by keeping a list of the running gear that I want to have with me in my running backpack. Every night before I go to bed, I make sure that everything I need is in there.

The above-list is in order of packing, but I am going to talk about my gear from most important to not-as-important.

Picture of my running gear (listed below)

My Essential Running Gear includes

  • Clothing: You can’t run naked. They say you should get clothing with sweat-wicking fibers so that you stay dry while you run. In addition, running socks for cushioning help me feel comfortable.
  • Shoes: I have special running shoes that I run with. Very necessary
  • Belt: I run with a belt that has two water jugs. Need to stay hydrated!
  • Outside Necessities: I run with a hat to keep the sun off of my face, sunglasses to protect my site, and sunscreen to protect my skin.

My Running Gadgets include

Image of my running gadgets (described below)

  • iPhone: It functions as a phone (especially critical in an emergency), GPS tracker, music player, camera, and motivator.
  • Nike+GPS app: I love this app. It’s free, accurate, and motivating! I love that you can connect with friends who have Nike+ and that you can route your map and progress. When connected to Facebook, you can tell others that you’re running and you hear every “like” by your friends, in real time, as cheers!
  • Amphipod Handheld iPhone Case: It doubles as a hand-held wallet. I carry a self-made ICE (in case of emergency) card and identification.
  • Jaybird Freedom Stereo Bluetooth Earbuds: They say that you need to be aware of your surroundings and these headphones block out all sounds except that from your bluetooth connection to your phone. These are great for the gym, but on the road, one has to be especially careful and aware of their surroundings.

All the gear that you see here has been acquired over time and according to my taste. shoes, clothing, and skin care are very important to pay attention to so that you are not discomforted. The running gadgets are optional, but for me, they are motivational in that they keep a log for me of the work I’ve put in to take care of my body.

How To Get Into Running

Anyone can get into running. Here are a few tips:

  1. Check with your primary care physician to see if you can run.
  2. Get fitted for shoes by going to a specialty running store. They look at how you step and while you will pay a lot for shoes, it is a worthy investment.
  3. Start slow, at a comfortable pace, and don’t burn yourself out. If you feel like you’re dying, you’re working too hard and risk injury.

A great place to start is by reading Runner’s World Commplete Book of Running. It’s contemporary, easy to read, and you will get all the best pointers on getting started.

Final Thoughts

For me, running is a metaphor for life. It’s about finding a good and comfortable pace, not taking on more than I can handle at the moment, and going one step at a time, knowing that I will get where I need to be over time. I may not be able to run an 8-minute mile, but I have moved from 13 minutes per mile to 11 minutes per mile in a year. My weight has gone down by 40 pounds in a year and I feel stronger.

In my personal journey with running, there are moments in running that are really, really good and those that are not-so-good. Being sidelined by injury is no fun. Being powerless to do what you need is a reminder of that which our clients sometimes experience. However, it is a sport (or hobby) about resiliency, patience, and perseverance.

Special Consideration

The One Fund Boston group is asking for donations to assist those who were injured during the Boston Marathon. A friend of mine asked to link to their site.

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A person once said: Take care of yourselves and each other. Be blessed.