A Quick Note About Running

A very good friend and mentor of mine posted an angry rant on Facebook tonight about how she was followed by a group of teenage boys while out on her run tonight. They circled her four times while catcalling, whistling and shouting at her. She felt unsafe running near her home, in a city that is incredibly safe – the place I consider home.

I am genuinely pissed off by this act. As a runner, I understand the mental stamina that it takes to get out and run when we are already doing a million and one other exhausting and mundane daily tasks. The act of running is daunting which is what makes running so special.

The running community runs to escape the noise of the world around us, to push ourselves for improvement, to be alone, to enjoy the natural world around us, to maintain physical health, and so many other reasons…but that is stripped of us when we experience actions like this from others.

I have heard many of my runner friends – particularly those that identify as female – complain that they have felt unsafe or uneasy while out for a run because they have been followed, catcalled and shouted at. Rather than getting the needed escape from their run they are made to feel small, scared, and uncomfortable. This is so freaking upsetting.

One of the only activities that makes me feel alive, alone, connected and energized is running, and knowing that my runner friends don’t get this same feeling is something that trips me up and makes me think about this crazy world that we live in.

Why does this happen? Why are men so awful toward women? When did it become unacceptable for female – and male – runners to run in short shorts, no shirt/sports bra? How would you like it if I came to your living room, football game, or other place of solace and shouted, whistled and catcalled at you while you were trying to find your peace? Because that’s essentially what is happening here.

You don’t hear of other athletes feeling uncomfortable in their spheres of practice or performance…so why is running the targeted sport?

Is it because we often do it as individuals? Because, that again is what makes running so cool. We do it on our own, at our own pace and whenever and wherever we want. We’re on our own time and we are being pushed only by ourselves to do better.

Is it because we wear little to no clothing? Because, if that’s the case this gets into a whole different issue. The world hears so often “she was wearing revealing clothing. She wanted it.” from the mouths of alleged rapists, but its the same damn thing when you’re catcalling a runner.

Just because we wear short shorts does not mean we are asking to be looked at…in fact, please don’t look at us…quite often we have snot dripping down our face, spit on our shirts, sweat dripping from every possible inch of our body. We look like we’re dying. We’re gross. I mean come on, running is like the least beautiful and graceful sport out there.

So, I guess what I’m sharing in this post is that the running community needs to have each other’s backs, uplift each other, and support our running endeavors. To those of you that aren’t runners, please stay away from us while we’re running. To the young men in this world…grow the hell up. Be a gentleman, learn some manners, and respect the ladies – and other gentlemen – out there…because you know what they say about Karma. To Sarah – and all of my other runner friends – don’t let this hold you back from running. Stay strong, stay driven, maintain heart, and keep taking those photos and reporting behaviors like this to the police.

Help keep our running community safe and healthy please!

Run happy!

-Joel

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Simplicity.

As I mentioned in my Goals for 2017 post, I am trying to minimize and focus on living a more simple, and meaningful life.

I am wildly intrigued by minimalism and the thought of doing more with less. If you haven’t heard of The Minimalists, check them out.  Their documentary is viewable here as well as on Netflix and they have authored three books that share their journeys into minimalism (I recently purchased Everything That Remains, if anyone would like to borrow it).  I also subscribe to their podcast and I love it!  If you commute to work, prefer stories over songs when working out, or just need to change up the pace, give them a listen.

The thing that I love most about minimalism is that it’s different for everyone.  Every person has a different definition of minimizing, living simply, and what is valuable to them.  For me, being a minimalist is all about finding value in the possessions that I have.  While, I hate clutter, and don’t want to ever live in a way that allows clutter to rule my home, my journey is most importantly about building a relationship with the stuff that I do have and recycling-tossing stuff defeats the purpose of minimizing waste and impact, so donate, repurpose, etc., please-the things that don’t add value to my life.

I’ve always been a pretty simple liver, but I finally started my adventure into this minimalism thing when I was living back at my parents house over Christmas break.  Being home for almost a month gave me ample time to sort through the junk in my room at their house.  I haven’t used most of the stuff in that room for a large portion of the last five years, and I know they’re not using any of it.  My twin brother, Adam recently moved out of my parents house too, so our room now felt awkward, like somehow it was no longer ours.  It was weird to be sleeping in a room that now felt lifeless.

My door was still covered in pictures from high school cross country, and old Runners World magazine snippets that I had cut out for inspiration.  Clothes that no longer fit littered my closet floor.  Posters hung limply on the walls-with the exception of my autographed Switchfoot poster, which definitely adds value to my life, I realized these posters no longer represented the person I am today-so I tore them down and tossed them.  Cleaning my room and sorting the stuff that is no longer needed from the stuff that will be kept felt so good.  It made the space feel a little more like mine-if even only for a few more days.

Since coming back to Verm, I have tried to make conscious decisions as far as my relationships go.  Is this person, thing, or activity adding value to my life?  Am I happy with this?  Is this just taking up space-even though I have literally nothing in my apartment, it is still a thought that I have?  I love that The Minimalists define living minimally as living with only the things that you value.  To me that is the perfect definition of how I prefer to live.


I recently downloaded a book on my Kindle that is written by a worship group that I love.  I have been a big fan of Rend Collective for quite a few years now, and they just released a devotional book that supplements their latest album-I just had to download it.

What I love most about Rend Collective is that they release Campfire albums every few years.  They unplug from the world, pack up their bags and instruments, and head into the wild.  There they are able to get back to the basics and produce simplistic and meaningful music that reflects who they are as a group as well as focusing on the things that really matter to them.

The first devotional in this book is titled Simplicity (also a title of one of the songs on the album) and talks about the reason why they go into the wilderness to write music.  It talks about the beauty of nature, the wonder of the stars, and the fact that today’s society is so focused on things that distract us from simplicity-from what is really important.  There is a quote in this reading that I am absolutely in love with.  It reads:

Simplicity is the art of restoring a clear and unobstructed view of the things that really matter.

This quote struck me because it really defines the emphasis on value and relationships in the minimalism movement, and the reason that I am so intrigued by minimalism in the first place.  Removing distractions and going back to the basics-stopping to smell the roses, if you will-helps me to realize the things that are important to me and why I value them.


I am also reading a book called The Longest Race by Ed Ayres.  I chose this book because it is written by an iconic ultra-runner, and as you all know, I love running.  Ayres articulates how I feel about running and minimalism in a great passage from his book, which is actually the inspiration for this post.  It reads:

As the world gets more complicated, people become more appreciative of the things that remain simple-and few things do.  Running is in some ways the simplest of all sports.  All you have to do to run, is open the door and go out.

Ayres explains that one of the great appeals of running is it’s simplicity and I couldn’t agree more.  In fact, I am attracted to the simple sports-the ones with few rules, little to no equipment, and those that require very little coordination, competition, and grace, but lots of attitude, stamina, and heart.  It’s why I love running, swimming, and hiking…and have enjoyed dabbling in yoga recently, too.

Each of these sports requires strength of mind and character.  They are not for the faint of heart.  But they are simple, independent, and can be done by anyone who is able.  They leave minimal impact, require minimal conditioning, and can all be done at your own pace.

There are very few distractions in these sports, and because of that I am able to think, breathe, and focus.  I can focus on the things that truly matter such as spiritual growth, reconnecting with my environment, and listening to my body.

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Another huge aspect of simplicity for me is always remembering to #LiveLikeMike.  Check out this link to read his story.


I look forward to continuing this journey into minimalism and exploring what that means for my relationships with material possessions, food, activities, and people, and the value that I place on each of them.

If you have thoughts on minimalism, feel free to reach out and share.  I’d love to connect.

-Joel