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May 25, 2009

National Running Day

Admin note: This is a potentially crazy week in Running and Rambling Land. I'm still sifting through photos and thoughts from my time at the Western States camp on Saturday, which will be the topic of the next post. I've got two more hydration pack reviews to bang out, and there's this little event on Thursday called the National Spelling Bee that - in case you're a newcomer to the blog since last year - I'm an absolute freak about (see the right sidebar for evidence of this). Oh, and by the way - I'm also in the middle of my two highest-volume training weeks in preparation for running 100 straight miles next month.

Accordingly, over the next several days, one of the following things is likely to happen: 1) I'll push the physiological limits of sleep deprivation and Diet Pepsi tolerance to crank out the miles and reviews and reports, or 2) I'll completely burn out, have a nervous breakdown, and some stranger will find me walking naked on the streets of Carmel Valley at 3AM muttering things like "Devil's Thumb ... Ultimate Direction ... Jacques Bailly" incoherently over and over. Honestly, it could go either way.

Regardless, it promises to be interesting. To get us rolling, though, I'm keeping things fairly down to Earth, with an article from last week's Monterey Herald.

Call me a cynic, but I've never been a fan of the myriad designated "national days" intended to make us healthier in one way or another. For example, the Great American Smokeout has been going every November for over 30 years - but I suspect its contribution to the decreased smoking rate is rather miniscule compared to measures like legislative bans (widespread no-smoking areas, etc) and enormous taxation that impact people every single day.

It often seems to me that the national day designation is a kind of last-ditch attempt to raise awareness of an issue when the organizing group has completely run out of other promotional strategies - and the effectiveness of such a ploy is generally limited to a subset of people who go, "Oh, really? They have a day for that?" before resuming their normal lifestyle for the next 364 days.

Already in 2009, we've had National Give Kids a Smile Day, National Wear Red Day (for heart health), National Black HIV Awareness Day, National Donor Day, National Kidney Day, National Women's HIV Awareness Day (meaning that if you're a black woman, you've already had two HIV awareness days to observe), National Native American HIV Awareness Day (boy, the HIV lobby loves those awareness days, don't they?), National Diabetes Alert Day, National Tubercolosis Day, National Alcohol Screening Day, and so on. (I'm not linking to them ... but go ahead and Google any of those if you think I'm exaggerating.)

What's more, the "national days" are only the tip of the iceberg compared to the number of "awareness months" for just about every health related issue you can imagine. The sheer volume of good causes and healthy habits is so overwhelming that it seems hard for any one of them to capture anyone's attention in a manner that leads to long-term improvement. That's not to say that any of these aren't worthy causes; it's just that the idea of creating an awareness day to permanently change behavior seems like a longshot.

So you can imagine my reaction when I learned about National Running Day.

My first instinct was to ignore the event, dismissing it as another gimmicky ploy - but then I remembered that I'm the author of a newspaper column about running. If nothing else, the idea gave me something to fill my usual allotment of column space - and who knows, maybe the day will actually inspire somebody. I can't say that I'm confident of that happening, though - and you can probably sense my ambivalence in the Monterey Herald column that follows below.

Running Life 05/21/09 “National Running Day”

Are you getting excited for National Running Day yet?

If you’ve never heard of National Running Day, don’t feel bad – neither had we until recently. That’s because this is the first annual event – and it’s taking place on Wednesday, June 3rd.

Of course, regular runners already recognize the many gifts that running provides. However, National Running Day is a great chance to get the word out and help our friends and co-workers get started. If you’re not a runner, this is a golden opportunity to give it a try – use this occasion as your first day to get out and run.

National Running Day is a grassroots effort to promote the benefits of running as a healthy, fun, easy, accessible, and inexpensive form of exercise. Across the country, the day will celebrate the benefits of running as an integral part of a healthy and active lifestyle.

The foremost race organizations in the country, including the Big Sur Marathon, are encouraging everyone of all ages and fitness levels to get out and run. Big Sur Race Director Wally Kastner says the message of the day is that “Everyone can run.”

Anybody can join in the National Running Day festivities simply by going for a run. A website has been created at www.runningday.org with advice for beginners and activity ideas for June 3. You can even download an “I’m a Runner/I Ran Today” Facebook button - because as everyone knows, it’s not a real party until someone puts it on Facebook.

Your responsibility as a runner is to find one non-runner and get them started. Provide advice to one person, or schedule an informal run at work and encourage sedentary co-workers to get involved. Teachers or administrators can have their students run that day as part of relays or other fun activities. Look at justrun.org for great running related activities for kids.

If you manage or own a business, make it a priority for your employees to schedule a run that day. Give them time off in the middle of the day and encourage them to start a healthy lifestyle. It will save you medical costs and raise employee energy and morale.

If you have a retail or food service business you can provide special discounts to runners on that day. How do you know who is a runner? By the smile on their face and the sweat on their brow when they ask you for the discount. Or just check their shoes.

Our two local running stores are both providing great deals. The Treadmill in the Carmel Crossroads is providing a 25% discount on running shoes on National Running Day and will throw in a free pair of socks as well. Fleet Feet at Del Monte Center is providing a 10% discount on shoes from now through June 3rd as an incentive to get started – just mention our article and say that you’re a new runner. Fleet Feet also has programs to help new runners train for local races.

Doug Logan, CEO of USA Track and Field, says, “This is a day to celebrate the most universal of all sports. You might be running toward a goal, running with a purpose, or even just running away from your problems. Any reason is a good reason to run, especially on National Running Day.”

We encourage you to get out and run on June 3rd. Wave and smile to others who are doing the same thing. Remember, if you get someone started, it’s the best gift you can give to a friend.


Jo Lynn 5/25/09, 10:53 PM  

I hope option #1 happens and you have a great week! ;)

triguyjt 5/26/09, 5:19 AM  

I had no idea about national running day... I have a few folks I can get into this.... yep..might also need ultra jesus's help too!

goodluck....ws 5 weeks away

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SDrunner 5/27/09, 7:31 PM  

I run in the mornings and never see any other runners outside. So it would be pretty cool to see other runners on this day. We'll see.

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