Five Lessons I Learned on National Running Day

With every journey there is a new lesson learned, every place traveled, explored; makes us ... fall in love with the earth.

-Pushpa Rana, The Way I Feel

As an avid wanderer and new New Yorker, my afternoons are often filled with self-guided walking tours--there truly is no better way to experience a city than on foot! Fresh blooms signal the dawn of summer, parks are brought alive by music, and there are endless opportunities to soak in all that my surroundings have to offer. However, I recently decided to pick up the pace and join in on the Harlem Run fun.

Enter National Running Day.  

Why do I run? To Remember! To Find Peace of Mind. To Feel Strong! And, of course, to eat pizza and ice cream :-) Setting intentions provides us with an extra burst of energy when the road feels endless and the hills too steep.

Departing from Harlem Yoga Studio, an energizing warm-up through the familiar streets of Harlem and Morningside delivered us to the Cotton Club, our meet up point for the night’s festivities (which still remained a mystery to me). A varied group, with representatives from Bridge Runners (our hosts), We Run Uptown, Resident Runners, Isla de Corredores, and our very own, Harlem Run, accumulated quickly as runners emerged from all directions.  Suddenly, we had swelled to at least 100 strong! As the anticipation built, we waited, for the starter’s gun or, more appropriately, a “Let’s do this!”...

We were off!

Amplifying the innate natural high of aerobic exercise, these “aha! moments” from National Running Day kept me pushing beyond my self-imposed limits and will keep me coming back for more:

Lesson one: Even though you don’t know the destination, it doesn't mean you won’t get exactly where you need to be.

Although initially curious about our ending point (and how far we would be running), I soon lost focus upon this and instead felt the rush of combined energy, spontaneity and presence in the moment. Furthermore, on this Wednesday, after a particularly long and difficult workday, this was the place I needed to be for the revitalization I craved.


Lesson two: High fives are like turbo power.

As a relatively new runner, I truly appreciated the accessibility of this group run for all levels. Throughout the course, faster runners would assemble in set locations, forming two lines so those following behind could run through with hands extended in celebration. Entering this configuration, I felt like Mario from Super Mario Bros,. powering up on an invincibility star as I let the momentum take over.

Lesson three: Come photo ready.

Alison often describes Harlem Run as a “photography group that runs,” chronicling its feats on any and all devices handy. Advice: be prepared to stop on a dime with a fierce pose as photo ops are supplementary workout obstacles.   

Lesson Four: Talk your way to the finish line.

Some believe that music is an excellent pacer, but I much prefer the “talk test.” Not only is talking during a workout a great way to gauge your level of intensity, it’s a wonderful way to connect with old and new friends. Despite not knowing her name, I will be forever thankful for my partner in crime’s conversation on National Running Day--I wouldn’t have made it without her!

Lesson five: Set your intention.

This is not just a yoga philosophy. Everyone has their own reason for running, and those reasons allow all of us to go further than we ever thought possible. With our National Running Day extravaganza clocking in nearly eight miles--five more than my usual workout--my belief in setting intentions is stronger than ever.

I run... toward my goals. Harlem Run, I look forward to taking over the streets with you again soon!

-Courtney