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Runner stories

Inspired while running

Woman taking a selfie on a run, wearing a rainbow hat
Runner crossing the finish line of a marathon
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Three runners share how bouts of Runfulness lead to big ideas.

Runfulness sparks more than physical fitness

It’s still a little early in 2021, but we might have the understatement of the year — running is good for you. Getting in stride can improve cardiovascular fitness, increase strength, burn calories, and better your mood.

Want more? The simple act of putting one foot in front of the other at an accelerated pace can have a profound effect on your life outside the run. Running can spark self-improvement or catalyse plans or ideas that could make the world around you a better place. We call this learned behaviour Runfulness. We chatted with runners about how Runfulness inspired art, community fitness, and a movement to remember fallen soldiers.

Pretty pasta — a Seattle runner draws inspiration for her art while on the run

Runners are known to have a strong relationship with pasta, but Linda Miller Nicholson takes it to another level. The self-described pasta ninja, who is also known as Salty Seattle, creates colourful, hand-cut noodles from dough made with vegetables. Miller Nicholson been featured on The Today Show, in O Magazine, and has done pasta art for Katy Perry, Camila and Mathew McConaughey, and others.

Woman looking at fabric and getting an idea

Why do you run?

I LOVE running. Like, almost as much as making pasta. Somehow through all that torture, through all my blah blah complaining, through the physical pain and mental anguish, I find a sense of calm. It might not be during, but there is something about doing the hard things that makes the other things you thought were going to be hard easier to manage.

Running always has my back. Sometimes it has me on my back, too, but it’s got me. A cruel mistress I hope I’ll never have to leave.

What’s one of the best ideas you’ve had on a run?

I have a lot of pasta ideas when I’m deep in nature. The “notes” app on my phone is a treasure trove of voice-to-text garbled pasta prompts, but thankfully it’s usually enough to jog my memory.

In late 2019, Gigi Hadid commissioned me to create a huge pasta art installation in her home. While it was a total honour to work on, there were lots of logistical challenges. I kept hitting walls when it came to the right method for long-term preservation of the pasta art. Then one day about halfway up a really painful trail I absolutely love, Cable Line on Tiger Mountain — if you know, you know — the right idea struck. It’s a long process to explain, but I tested it immediately when I got back to my workshop. I was still gross from the run because I was THAT excited, but it worked!

Sharing strides — former American college footballer uses running to improve his community’s health

A pre-diabetes diagnosis from his doctor was a wake-up call for social worker and former American football player Anthony Clary. He began running and eventually started Running with Rock, a club that believes that there’s no such thing as a “runner’s” body. Clary is also a new member of the Brooks Run Happy Team.

Runner crossing the finish line or a marathon
Man takes selfie with group of runners

Why do you run?

Running was once centred on me, but it quickly extended to include others and the wellness of my local community. Running has become so much more than I initially intended.

What's one of the best ideas you've had on a run?

Running with Rock was born during a solo run. I realised how invigorated running made me feel both mentally and physically. I thought, “I have to share this with my family, friends, and community”.

I wanted to create a space where all paces are welcome. As a person who has battled with being overweight, I wanted to dismantle the notion of a “runner's body”. Out of my passion for running, I have coined the mantra “WE OFF THE COUCH” to motivate all persons of various fitness levels to get moving.

Running to remember — how personal loss turned into a movement to honour those who serve in the American military

In 2009, Lisa Hallett, Erin O’Connor, and Shella Hightower founded Wear Blue: Run to Remember. Its mission is to build a running community that honours the service and sacrifice of the American military. Hallett, who is a mother of three, lost her husband John when he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009.

Woman running in a race

Why do you run?

I run to drive a stake in the earth and prove to myself what I'm capable of. That I can push through hard things and realise more of myself, more of the world. What I achieve in a run becomes the framework to how I live: as a community member, professional, mother, friend.

What’s one of the best ideas you’ve had on a run?

In one of my runs, as I struggled to figure out why I felt so stuck in my training — every distance and speed felt the same level hard — I realised that I had no goals. The safety of my guilt-free running was preventing me from achieving more.

As I started to visualise a fast marathon or my first 50k, I realised that I was terrified to set that goal because I was afraid to miss the mark. As long as there were no goals, there was no failure.

I then realised an even scarier truth — as long as there were no goals, there were also no successes.

I connected those dots between fear of failure and loss of success. I was struck by the reality that Wear Blue’s potential for success was the same as my run. As long as we accepted now as reality, and failed to work towards larger goals, we would never realise the growth and success that our community needed.

Ten years after that run, Wear Blue spans the globe, with six programmes and over 50,000 community members. Over 1.5 million athletes have moved through one of our tribute displays, in which we have honoured nearly 20,000 fallen service members.

We’re still learning. We’ve missed the mark plenty of times. But our best lessons still seem to emerge on the open road in the steps of a run.