First up: I am not an “ambassador” or in any way affiliated with Run The Year but for the fact I gave them $25 to join the group. This, the paying of the $25, is something I almost didn’t do. After all, I ran well over 2016 miles last year. (I ran 18 marathons alone, which is nearly 472 miles, almost 25% of the goal.)
The idea of Run the Year is to motivate people to get moving and attempt to run 2,016 miles in 2016. That’s just shy of 40 miles a week. I do that. Don’t get me wrong; motivation is wonderful. It’s just that $25 would get me two pair of very cool My Soxy Feet running socks, pay for a 5K, or about 14% of my Boston Marathon registration fee.
Plus, I really do love to run. I’m one of those runners who doesn’t do well with taking rest days. I know you should. I just feel something’s missing on a day I don’t run. And that’s not because I have a running streak going. Now and again, I do take off a day. It’s prudent. The point is, I don’t need Run the Year.
Or, that’s what I thought. Why I joined, I can’t really articulate. It was kind of like: “Look! a big group of runners! They want to run a lot of miles! Me too!” What can I say? I’m easy (yeah, don’t even ask how many boxes of Girl Scout cookies I’m down for this year.)
And so I started logging my miles with Run the Year. This is a duplicative task, as I keep my own running log. Since I was doing it, I looked around the website. I learned that a lot of new runners were part of Run The Year. The group allows you to run or walk the miles. Importantly, you can also join as a pair or trio, meaning a commitment of 672 miles/year or 13 miles/week if you opt for a trio. Very do-able for beginners, especially if you are on a team of three.
The more I delved into Run The Year, the more impressed I became. There’s a Facebook group (you need to register to join) that prompted me to write this piece. Wait, I know that social media is superficial and chock full of cat videos, food photos, and ridiculous game and quiz notices. And clever people trying to out-quip each other and politicos and….then there’s Run The Year.
People post their runs and you get stickers every 100 miles from the tracker you can upload to mark your progress. That’s nice, but it’s not why I’m writing. No, there’s something big here, something my pedestrian writing skills may not be sufficient to convey to you. There’s a spirit of camaraderie here that is out of the ordinary.
At a point in the year when most New Year Resolution gym joiners have stopped showing up, the newbie runners on Run The Year are not only still posting, they are supporting each other, urging each other to keep on, and making their marks. Sure, there are fast and experienced runners posting and that adds to the verisimilitude of the site and group. It’s literally for everyone.
On Tuesday, a 37 year old woman in California posted that was “feeling like a failure” since she cut her run short because some ignorant, mean spirited runners called her out, noting she was in red, using the words “fat” and ugly.” Later that evening, this determined woman posted she was “feeling loved” and finished her run on the “dreadmill” after 981 people responded to her initial post. The next day, an impromptu movement arose to run in red and dedicate miles to this lovely person, which we did, posting our photos and messages to our new runner chum.
Later on Wednesday, we were treated to a photo of a beautiful smiling woman, thanking us for supporting her. “You have no idea the impact it has had on me. I will never look down or give up now because we are all runners. We are all family. Everyone continue to work on your goals, be stronger, be confident, and show love to everyone in this community and out in the world who is just trying to be the best version of themselves.”
And I thought this group wasn’t for me.