Saturday, March 7, 2020

RunTheBoro: A Field Trip for Runners

One of my runners, Rochelle Cook, described the annual Greensboro running event RunTheBoro as "a field trip for runners." It's ironic that the birth of RunTheBoro actually started with a field trip. One day back in April of 2016 (actually it was April Fool's Day), I found myself with a free half day (which is extremely rare). So I took a field trip to Raleigh to a check out a running store I had heard about, Runologie. They had some great T-shirts. One shirt that caught my eye had "Greenway City" printed on the front.  Raleigh has one of the best greenway systems in the country with over 117 miles. The Greenway City shirt was celebrating that awesome network of greenway. Greensboro also has an awesome network of greenways and trails, over 90 miles!

That trip got me thinking that we (Greensboro) needed a shirt to celebrate our great running city. Not just the greenways, but the whole city. There are lots of awesome neighborhoods, including the downtown area, in addition to our vast network of greenways that are great for running. So, when I got back home, I started designing a graphic for the shirts. I used a photograph I had taken of the skyline of Greensboro to help me create a silhouette of the skyline. While working on the graphic, the phrase "Run The Boro" came to mind and it stuck and I added that phrase to the shilhouette.

It's funny how things evolve. Initially, I thought I'd sell the t-shirts and use part of the proceeds to help fund the Greenway Water Fund. In 2012, RunnerDude's Fitness began putting water coolers out in four spots on the Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway each Saturday. We put out about 10,000 bottles of water and Gatorade each year. We recycle all the bottles that are placed in the recycle bags with each cooler. The shirts seemed like a great way to celebrate Greensboro's awesome  running community and help continue the weekly water cooler service on the greenway.

During the process of getting the T-shirts printed, I had the epiphany for a series of runs during May and June getting runners into these cool areas of our city. What better name to call the series than RunTheBoro! I wanted the runs to be free and the shirts would be optional to buy. Two separate ideas that serve the same purpose...bringing runners together and exploring our great city. Idea conceived on April 1st. Shirts printed on April 20th. Runs announced on April 27. First run on May 7th. Quite the whirlwind.

That first run was just one run distance of 7 miles. We explored the Kirkwood, Latham Park, and Old Irving Park neighborhoods. I thought mainly my runners would show for that first run, possibly 30-40 runners, but we had over 75! Each week the numbers grew and we averaged about 110 runners for each run. After that first run, I began offering 2 distances, a 4-5 mile and an 8-10 mile route. This helped increase walker participation. For the last run of 2016's RunTheBoro, we had about 175 runners participate. Overall, for the event, we had over 300 total participants. It was awesome.

RunTheBoro 2017 saw even more growth. We averaged about 120-130 runners for each run and had over 400 total participants. The RunTheBoro newsletter was added as well as some special theme runs like the "Monument Run" and the "City of Murals Run." We had about 400 total participants for RunTheBoro 2017.

RunTheBoro 2018 surpassed my wildest dreams! We averaged 275 runners for each run and had over 600 total participants! Run #9 (the last Saturday run of RunTheBoro 2018) had over 330 runners! It was amazing!

Then in 2019 we grew even more! In 2019 we averaged 350 runners per run with the largest run attendance being 400! RunTheBoro 2019 drew in over 700 unique runners and walkers! The walking group really grew tremendously averaging around 70 each week! 

RunTheBoro 2020 will continue the newsletter, theme-based runs (there are several new murals to add to this year's City of Murals run!) and returning title sponsor Volvo Financial in conjunction with RunnerDude's Fitness will be providing a brand new pint glass this year for those runners that participate in 5 or more Saturday RunTheBoro runs! WeeDoggie!

My dream of bringing the running community together, exploring our city and celebrating our city is happening and growing each year thanks to your support. The Triad's running community rocks!

Hope you'll join us for RunTheBoro 2020 with the first run/walk starting on May 2nd. For more information on RunTheBoro 2020, click here.

Be sure to check out our sponsors:
Crest Leather

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Take Control at Any Age

The first time I had "Mary" do quick steps on the agility ladder, she got so frustrated that she couldn't make her feet do what she wanted to. I told her, "That's why we're doing these drills to help you get better mind muscle control." Second round of quick steps on the agility ladder in the same workout, she went so fast she almost lost control. When she finished she had the biggest smile on her face and said, I can't believe I just did that!" 

Mary who is 70, came to me not too long ago inquiring about fitness training. She shared with me that she had had breast cancer and had had a mastectomy. She said she wanted to do whatever to make herself as strong as possible. We decided on one-on-one training sessions, two times a week.

During our first workout, I asked Mary to get down on a mat on the floor for one of the exercises. She looked at me and said, "I have to get on the floor?" I replied, "Yes."  Then she said, "One of my biggest fears is falling and not being able to get up." I said, "That's exactly why we need to get on the floor. Getting up and down is part of the workout." 

After completing the exercise, I could see the difficulty, Mary had in getting up and a big part of it was not being confident in her ability to get up. So, I showed her how to bend her knee with her foot out front and how to distribute her weight so she'd have better balance when standing up. She did it perfectly and that same smile that I saw when she conquered the agility ladder appeared. 

At the first workout of her second week, Mary told me that she almost didn't come. She said she felt weak and a little lightheaded after the last workout and she almost talked herself out of coming back. But she came and we talked about it being normal to experience a fitness dip when adding new intensities to the body and about the importance of properly fueling and hydrating before and after a workout.

Mary's learned that lack of balance and muscle weakness doesn't entirely happen because of age, it has more to do with inactivity. We've worked on full-body strength as well as working lateral muscles such as her hip abductors to increase balance and that ladder to increase mind muscle control.  Mary is now doing dumbbell step-ups on a 16" step. Every time I increase the number of reps for an exercise or the weight for an exercise, she'll look at me to make sure she heard correctly and then she'll smile before doing the exercise.

Mary continues to conquer the ladder, get up and down with ease and is even starting to run. Even with cancer, Mary is taking control of her life. She's a true inspiration.