This week’s post is written by Kaitlin Fisher, Program Associate at Global Weeks.
Yesterday, on June 1st, 2016, I joined more than two and a half million people around the world who pledged to celebrate Global Running Day simply by going on a run. Founded in 2009 by a number of prominent running organizations, the first Wednesday of June has since marked a day for runners of all ages, genders, races and ability levels to celebrate the joys of running. From first time runners to elites, official races to family fun runs, thousands of events are taking place around the globe to commemorate the occasion. Take a peak at #GlobalRunningDay on Twitter or Instagram and you’ll see what I mean.
For me, what was particularly special about this year’s Global Running Day was its new centerpiece: the inaugural Million Kid Run with the goal of getting at least one million kids to pledge to run on June 1st. As an experiential educator who has spent countless weeks in the wilderness teaching adolescents, I am a big advocate of physical exercise as a tool to promote self-confidence, reflection, and grit. As a high school student who walked the mile in high school, I understand that for many people running does not come naturally. We have evolved as a species to move less and sit more, and as a result our natural human instincts to run do not always feel so natural.
Running started to change for me when I was a student at the North Carolina Outward Bound School. I was part of an 8-person group on a 48-day Instructor Development Practicum during which we learned how to effectively lead wilderness leadership programs through firsthand experience backpacking, rock climbing, canoeing, and participating in a number of trainings. Unbeknownst to me, the course ended with what was known as the PCE (Personal Challenge Event), a 14 mile trail run to test how our physical fitness has improved as a result of our weeks in the field. A complete novice with no desire to run – let alone run up and down mountains for 14 miles – I totally panicked. I’m not ready. I don’t have the right shoes. I’m not strong enough.
Fast forward a few hours and I was running across the makeshift finish line in disbelief of what my body was capable of. I surely wasn’t the fastest or the most graceful, but I continued to move forward until I was done. Fast forward nearly 10 years and you’ll find me running every day. What I love about running is that it doesn’t require fancy equipment or the latest technology (although you can spend a fortune on the sport if you so choose). All you need is the ability to put one foot (or prosthetic!) in front of the other and a desire to reap one of the many benefits of running. Running is universal in the way that smiles are universal. We speak different languages and live our lives in vastly different ways, and yet yesterday at least 2.5 million people from at least 177 countries pledged to run and we all did it in more or less the same way. Whether you’ve never run around the block or you have countless marathons under your belt, I encourage to keep an eye out for next year’s Global Running Day on June 7th, 2017!