We call our brand ambassadors RADrabbits, which stands for Runners And Dreamers. We believe in running, dreaming, inspiring and making a difference. You can inspire and make a difference on the roads and trails, but also, in the other aspects of your life. This week RADrabbit Sam Snyder shares with us his mantra for living a RAD life and how he gives back on a daily basis. Sam, we salute you and are proud to share your message:
Last year, after having tried a pair of rabbit’s running shorts, I jumped at the application to become a RADrabbit. The shorts were comfortable, the gear seemed great, and while I couldn’t put my finger on it, there was something inspiring about this aspiring new running brand – including a commitment to the workers who make the rabbit line. With that in mind, it has occurred to me that Running and Dreaming, being RAD, should be a mantra for living a life beyond running. But, let me start at the beginning.
In 2013, on a cold January day, as I left a meeting and headed back to the office with stress levels on high I walked by our local running store. Rather than passing, I strolled in and emerged a half an hour later out with a pair of Adidas Glide Boosts. At that point, I didn’t realize what was to come or how the changes would reverberate outward.
Four years ago, I wasn’t a runner. Didn’t run. Laughed at it.
Yet, I slept horribly; I worked late nights and early mornings. I was a walking bundle of stress, incapable of finding distance from a job that was emotional, in part because it embodied my core beliefs.
As many are lucky to know, when you believe deeply in the work you do, it’s hard to let it go. You carry it with you at every step. You’re always, literally and figuratively, too close to the screen. It can be near impossible to step back and gain perspective. Finding ways to sort through the mechanics of the job, the levels of stress, and the daily tactics of work can be a chore, at best. So, amidst it all four years ago something had to give.
I work on campaigns in the world of politics; not political campaigns for candidates, but political campaigns aimed at defending clean water, free flowing rivers, and wild food – especially salmon.
Clean water, wild salmon -- those are things that runners can identify with, right? Salmon, the super food, makes us fast. Just make sure it’s wild!
We’re lucky Alaska is a big state with relatively few people, and therefore even less development. This means we have free flowing rivers, healthy ecosystems, and abundant runs of salmon, certainly more than the Lower 48. But in a lot of cases, rivers and fish are threatened by resource development, especially mines and dams.
Even in the best of political times, working on conservation campaigns is no easy task. A grind that constantly feels like that threshold between mile 16 and mile 17 of a marathon when you’re holding on, trusting in your plan, but waiting for the wheels to come off at any moment. But I found that running suddenly gave me space to review those plans, assess potential issues, and adjust so the wheels stay on track.
Speaking of marathons, I never thought I would have the experience to make an actual marathon comparison to life or work. I laughed at the thought of 26.2!
Yet, after buying those shoes I started small. My main goal was some semblance of health. “I am not getting any younger,” I thought. So I took to the neighborhood. Ran to my kids’ daycare and pushed them back in a stroller. What I found, though, was that those small chunks of neighborhood pavement gave me unexpected space to process the work I literally swam in. I didn’t necessarily leave the work; I just found new ways to sort it out.
What I didn’t expect, more than clarity, was some newfound inner competitive desire. The runs got longer, the miles stacked up, and then the races started happening. I joined running groups, signed up for a few of Alaska’s many wonderful summer races, and started working with a coach.
Suddenly, I found myself signing up for the 2016 Austin Marathon, where I ran a 3:46:22. Six short months later, I ran my second marathon, and found myself mad that despite an 11 minute PR between the two, I hadn’t met my time goal due to cramping. My coach sympathetically laughed and said, “now you really know you’re a runner!”
Now I am determined more than ever to grow stronger and faster. I want to improve. I know I can improve. I might be nearing 40 quickly, but I get faster every day and I want to keep that up. Not because I can win, but because I want to improve for myself and set an example for my young children.
You see, in what is no surprise to many life long runners, I found that when you struggle with drive in one aspect of life or work, adding a new dimension could create new sources of motivation or confidence. In running I found a new fuel for a line of work seemingly disconnected from that running.
But the more I run, the more I wonder if my work and running are really all that disconnected. We’re lucky in Anchorage to have wonderful trails through and around town. The Chugach Mountains just outside of Anchorage are majestic. Heading off the roads, onto the trails, and into the mountains is both where new separation and new questions were found.
You see, I got into fisheries conservation because I grew up fly fishing. I grew concerned about rivers, trout, salmon, and the human impact on them. So I sought avenues to fight for them and one day found myself in the middle of one of the biggest fights of our time. The sportsman community is heavily vocal on matters of conservation. It is in the history of the sport.
But running on trails or mountains, I began to wonder where was the running world was on similar matters. Not necessarily wild salmon fisheries, though those should matter to runners, but access to public lands, conserved habitat, climate change, clean air, and the like?
The running community is powerful and inspiring. And on matters of health, community engagement, the runners can be a strong and influential force for sure. Runners raise money and awareness for all sorts of issues quite frequently. But conservation issues?
Conservation shouldn’t be political, but these days it is highly politicized. Clean air and water are not things we should have to fight for, they’re not luxuries but essential elements of healthy living and certainly healthy running.
I am sure many runners, including some reading this, want their running politics free. But when we we’re in the mountains, on the trails, I believe we have to pause, take in the surroundings. We should be grateful. My hope, though, is that that gratitude turns into an understanding of how it is all connected. That awareness, then, evolves into to caring and perhaps action.
So if conservation work in some strange way led me to running, I guess one question I wrestle with to start 2017 is how can running expand my work in conservation.
Ultimately, being a RADrabbit means Running and Dreaming, inspiring and making a difference. Therefore, that goes well beyond setting running goals, working hard, and crushing them. Doing RAD work means striving to make the world better, more equitable, livable, and healthy place for all, for runners today and for runners of the future. In the end, we are only borrowing it from future generations.
- Sam Snyder, RADrabbit