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The RAD Journals

Born To Run Free

Lookbooks

As we prepare for the holidays, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and busyness of our everyday lives. Amidst gift buying, family get-togethers, and traditions, we often lose sight of what we’re thankful for. 

By now, it’s no secret that practicing gratitude allows our brains to release serotonin and dopamine—two “feel good” chemicals that positively impact mood, willpower, and motivation. Regularly practicing gratitude strengthens our neural pathways and rewires our brains to focus on what’s going well versus what isn’t. Whether going for a gratitude run or writing down a list of things you’re thankful for, we hope you can take some time to slow down and reflect. Here are three RADs on what they are most grateful for in their running journey.

Heather Henley

In this season of gratitude, I am extra thankful for running and all it’s given me.

Friends- Ding.Ding. At 9:00, in between kinder and preschool drop off, my phone is lighting up. At each stop light I glance down to see it’s my girl Katie, fresh off her morning miles. Katie, one of my best run friends, is in the thick of training for her next marathon in two months. Friends, my favorite running side effect, equal endless conversations and messages over shoes, nutrition, what the pros are doing, and complaining about the weather. So humid, too cold- all in the span of 3 days in Texas fall, my running friends go on and on. Ok, me too.Have you tried the new pineapple gels yet? I mean, I negative split that 4 miler yesterday.Misery and fun love company. 

Humility- looking at you long run that became the short run. No less than once every month, I have a workout that goes awry. Heck, not even awry. Off track, off road, and totally left field. Just Sunday, I laced up for a double digit adventure, to come back 3 miles short, walk/slogging ( barely jogging- Google that), and strawberry faced. It is what it is. Nevermind last week that same run felt like a 5k. As a not teenager anymore mom of 2, I have learned to accept the day for what it is, be grateful for the movement I fit in, and hit it hard the next workout. No ego amigo. 

Peace of mind-No matter how hectic the schedule looks, squeezing in a few miles for myself first thing, clears my worries and sets the tone for a better day. Or at least more patience in facing the trials of said hectic day- looking at you piles of never ending laundry. I have solved more problems than I can count while pounding pavement or exploring trails. Free therapy. And for that, I am grateful. 

Resilience- I can take it. The heat, the last mile with a spot I know will be blistered when I find the finish line, or the side cramp from 1 too many sips of water. Runners take on an alter ego, poker faced, and super hero caped,  to jump buildings, ok, maybe street cracks or trail roots, and fly to the finish.  In my running journey, showing up to the start goes down as a win. Injury, illness, and starting over are recurring themes in my running journey. In 2021, I upped my mileage, because why not? We all had that extra free time due to you know what, when I managed to break my foot not once, but twice. Stress fractures plagued me 18 months straight. One time my foot broke walking downstairs barefoot. Cue Frank Sinatra’s, That’s Life…. One boot, a pair of orthotics, yoga, and foot drills, here I am, back on track. Thank you running, for showing me what I am made of- just don’t show me again. So cheers to running— for my community, constant grounding, a clear mind, and superhero grit.  Thank YOU!

Michael Reed

I’ve been a runner most of my life, but these past four years I have been especially grateful for my running journey – and the wonderful new family I have found along the way.

As a gay man, I quickly learned that I would have to (or get to!) choose my family throughout my coming out journey. Because frankly, my parents weren't going to be the support I needed, and deserved. It's been 20 years since I came out, and exactly four years ago on that journey I made the hard decision to disconnect from my parents. This was such a hard decision to make in my life, but absolutely the right one for me, my partner, and my mental/physical health. But I was in a really dark place and needed a new light and inspiration in my life. As part of the healing process, and my own form of therapy, I took this opportunity in my life and channeled it into my running. I started signing up for more races, ran my third and fourth marathons, and joined a few wonderful running groups (both in my town and online communities!). I met new people that cheered me on, lifted me up, and supported me through ups and downs.

So during this time of gratitude, I can clearly see how much my love of running and the wonderful supportive people I’ve found along have made a difference in my life. Running has given me something to work toward every single day, and I have always felt supported by fellow runners to be my true, authentic self–and that just means the world to me. In addition to my amazing partner, siblings, and friends, I now have even more chosen family members.

Dani Shirtcliff

Running has made me grateful for finding my WHY. I never got to say goodbye to my dad when he passed. This past March that changed. I went to a place where I didn’t know any of the language to a place I only heard about in movies. Somehow I managed through terrible charades to get to the expo, retrieve my bib, and make it to the colosseum for the Rome Marathon all by myself.. I didn't look at the route, elevation, or anything at all. I didn't even know how many kilometers a marathon was because I was used to miles. I spoke with people in broken Italian whenever I needed a serotonin boost. I think deep down, I needed a reminder that I will always have him as my WHY. For that, I am forever grateful that running gave me that. Being in Rome where he used to live, eating cookies I grew up on throughout the course gave me goosebumps. He was there for me in spirit and not a run goes by where I don't think of him. I got my shoes printed with his last name so he could run so we could cross that finish line together. I ended up running an hour faster, PRed, and got my own special way of saying ciao.

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