Running is not about me. I’m starting to realize that my new favorite hobby is not about me and I am fine with it. I believe that if something is not growing then sooner or later it dies. If an interest is not growing, it must be shrinking instead.
When I started running (I probably start a lot of sentences this way), I thought it would just be a way to exercise and get skinny. I’ve since learned that making sure you’re fueling the runs properly means that a lot of runners do NOT lose weight during training, rather they might gain a few pounds instead.
I used to think running was about getting my 15 seconds of fame. I thought if I signed up for a race event, that my friends would make big signs and stand by the sidelines and cheer for me. I dreamed of hearing my name being screamed by all the fans at the Central Park finish line of the marathon as I crossed the finish line in third or second or even first place, claiming the large purse prize. Yeah, that’s not going to happen anytime soon. But later I realized that it’s one thing to fulfill my own dreams but that I could run for a cause and actually give someone else a chance of their dream coming true. And a new purpose was born.
And a couple weeks ago, I decided to host a running group at my church. One of the platforms of the Seventh-day Adventist church is the health message. We believe that one of the most precious gifts we have been given is health and that if we appreciate something, we take care of it. The theories on how to best take care of our health are as varied as there are people talking about it, but there are a few constants that usually come through. Proper Nutrition, Exercise, Rest. There is an acronym we talk about in church when we talk about health and it’s NEW START:
- N – Nutrition
- E – Exercise
- W – Water
- S – Sunshine
- T – Temperance
- A – Air
- R – Rest
- T – Trust in Divine Power
It’s easy to focus on our favorite 2 or 3 from the list – but just eating veggies and drinking water is not a recipe for a healthy life. Temperance (knowing how much is too much), avoiding stress by believing in divine power, getting outside and getting fresh air and saying hello to your neighbor while you’re at it.
This acronym has led to the predominantly Seventh-day Adventist community in Loma Linda, CA being recognized as one of the blue zones in the world – blue zones are areas where a large percentage of the population live longer lives than those in surrounding communities. Other blue zones are Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia in Italy, Nicoya in Costa Rica and Icaria, Greece. What’s interesting is that the people in these blue zones don’t do the same things, they don’t all eat the same diets, and they are not exposed to the same environmental factors. What they do have in common is that they use their environment to their advantage, they are all spiritual and they live temperate lives filled with social activities.
Like other Italians, The Sardinians probably enjoy a good slice of pizza but they don’t eat an entire pie for a meal. Icarians are Mediterranean so their diet includes olives and wine but their diet is not laden with fried foods. In fact, Icarian history includes periods of food shortage. But in the present day, 1 in 3 Icarians live to be 90 years old. And their heart disease, dementia and cancer rates are lower than almost anywhere else in the world. Like other Japanese, the Okinawans probably eat their share of white sushi rice but their diet is low fat, low salt with an emphasis on tofu, seaweed and fish. The Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda are mostly vegetarian who probably take advantage of the awesome California weather and go out and exercise. Do the research and you’ll find the common threads between all these blue-zone groups match the 8 points of NEW START.
So I wanted to do my part and encourage people in my church to get more exercise and I started a running club. Although it’s spring, it’s still cold in NYC so we’ve had interest but not many runners yet.
BUT yesterday, we had a nice little group of 2 moms and their kids and me. And we met another woman in the park, Precious, who wants to join us next week, along with about 3 other church members. I’m looking forward to having a bigger group next week but I’m happy to make a difference, even if it’s just one person who’s walking so I can jog alongside them. Because Running is NOT about me.
Yes, I could get hung up on the fact that it was one of the slowest runs I’ve had in a long time, but it was also one of the most amazing because I shared something I loved with people I love.
Because at the end of the day, the Blue Zones are blue zones, not blue people. And if you notice one of the factors at the core of the blue zone diagram is social engagement. You have to build up your community, not just focus on yourself. Running is not about me!
I love running but running is no longer just about me and it’s the most satisfying realization in the world. My challenge for you today is to go out and do something for someone. Share something you love with someone new. That’s what RunWright is about.
And don’t forget to enter the “RunWright giveaway if you haven’t already. I’m giving away an awesome goody bag with some of my favorite things. Giveaway ends at midnight tonight.