Kayode also known as the WritingRaven has been though a “running renaissance”, a time period where he has went from being active to not to active again. He shared with us why he runs and what motivates him to do it everyday.
Why I run
I guess on a fundamental reason, I run to stay in shape but
it’s more than that. It has to be right? Why does someone get up at the crack
of dawn to labor in pain and sweat for no immediate reward?
Growing up, I wasn’t the smartest or the coolest kid in my
grade. Nor was I a tall kid; a fact that was really important to me back then.
I was just another student in a sea of heads. But, I excelled at one thing:
Running. When we started track, I
discovered I had this one talent; I could zip by anyone in front of me. It
didn’t matter how much of a head start I gave anyone, all I had to do was paint
a target on their back and I would run them down. When track season came, I
became the cool kid. This was my ticket for a long time, before I discovered my
brain, passions, and of course, girls.
After college (I am a Morgan State alumni…Go Bears!) I broke
my femur and stopped working out regularly. I was settled in a sedentary
lifestyle until I found myself out of breath from climbing up a short flight of
stairs. Suddenly, the former pride I had in my fitness reappeared and I decided
to start running to get back in shape. So, in 2007, my second running journey
In my first running life I lived as a sprinter, always
blazing down the track in the short prestige distances. This time; however, I
knew that fast life was over. My intention now was just to run regularly to get
some cardio in. Like most sprinters, I hated longer distances with a passion.
It always seemed pointless to me to run for that long and endure all that pain,
but I did it for training when my coaches asked us to do it. Now on my own, I
told myself I would limit the distance to a 5K at most, but I was wrong.
That familiar pain of the long run was still there just as I
had left it, but there was something different; Me. Maybe it was because I was
pushing myself again, but the physical effort suddenly had more of an emotional
impact on me. For the first time, I embraced the strain of the long distance
and enjoyed it. Having a soundtrack to run with also didn’t hurt, I remember
listening to Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor for months while I gradually
stretched my 5Ks into 10Ks. I can still recite that rhymes and raps on that
album in my sleep today.
Back then I worked out at the YMCA and ran on both the
treadmill and road. By pure chance I discovered a 5K race being organized by
the Ellicott city Y and thought, why not? At this point, I was comfortable
running a 3 mile race and my sprinter ego assured me I could totally crush it. I
didn’t. Looking back now, I realize how well my performance was for such an
unexpectedly hilly race. Although I did win the Y member award, that last hill
crushed me. What I discovered during that race was that I missed the competition
of racing against runners. So, the world of road racing opened up to me. My
next race was a 10K and then a bunch of 5Ks. The next year I ran my first
marathon. Four marathons and six half-marathons later I can’t imagine not
So, what was that question again? Why do I run?
I run because it makes me feel alive. I run because it
allows me to test and push myself physically and mentally. I run because it’s
my escape. I run because it renews my hope in myself, my city and people.
Seeing people of all shapes and sizes running, builds my confidence in life. I run because I like the salty taste of sweat
pouring down my face telling me how hard I am working (or how humid Baltimore
is!). I run because I can. I run because I love it.
While I am open to different charities, I almost exclusively support She’s The First . It’s a charity
that supports the education of girls in low income countries that are usually
the first in their families to graduate from high school. I passionately
believe in the possibilities that education can open up to people. The reason
that I am passionate about this particular charity is that I know girls
are especially at a disadvantage in many countries where it’s believed that
they should not be educated. Extreme poverty also makes it easy for the girls
to be denied education, so any program that keeps the door open for them is
something that touches my heart.
For me, education gives us a chance to solve global problems
and brings us closer to being a truly united people. We only have this planet
for right now, so it’s important we live harmoniously in it. Education is one
of the many steps that can take us there. I know we can’t get progress if women
and girls continue to be disadvantaged. We can do much better and this
organization is definitely helping.
People often complain about not having time to work out or
run, and it’s an excuse I had for some years. But when there was something
truly important for me to do, I always found time to get it done. Once I
decided that getting in shape and being healthy was important to me, I decided
I would have to find the time for it. It doesn’t have to be an hour; it can be
a mere thirty minutes out of twenty-four hours. That little time can be found
at different parts of a day, but I believe everyone can find what works for
them. Once you pick a time, make a covenant with yourself to always honor that
hour no matter what. Keep that appointment, renew it and keep on fulfilling
that promise. For me it is early at the crack of dawn.
My alarm clock goes off at 5am, but I get up at 5:30am. That
extra 30 minutes somehow does wonders for my soul. Although I still feel
groggy, once I lower my feet to the ground, I can already feel the excitement
of the impending run beginning to build. Sometimes, my running gear is ready to
go but I go through my prep rituals and fifteen minutes later I try to be out
of the door. Worst case scenario, I want to be outside at 6am. The air outside
feels brand new, yes even in the city, and the streets are empty. I feel like I
am part of a brand new chance in the world for the day as I head out. The music
starts and I disappear into my own world, all that exists is the road and the
machine of the human body.
Now, that’s my morning when everything is at its best. It
doesn’t always turn out like that. Sometimes, I am dragging and feel tired. Sometimes
it just feels too cold to run or my legs feel heavy for some weird reason. One
thing I am sure of is that I’ll feel disappointed if I don’t keep my promise to
myself, so I’ll just get myself to the road and most of the time I get lost in
the run by the middle of the first mile.
It’s not easy to keep that appointment all the time and
sometimes life interferes with everything, but somehow I make sure it happens.
It does help to set a goal to aim for, especially something that seems out of
reach. My goal this year is to run at least 2 miles every day this year and it’s
helping me get up in the morning. One of my weaknesses is that I hate
disappointing people, so publishing my goal has tied me to it and has kept me
locked in. Registering for races also helps to sharpen focus and I am enjoying
the journey more than anything. Another lucky accident for me was discovering
the November Project tribe in Baltimore. Joining the tribe has at the 6:30am
workouts definitely helps in more ways than I can say. The motivation from
group workouts adds a different layer that athletes get from teammates, although
this is the first team that I have joined that actually hugs each other just
Where I run
I run in Baltimore and I enjoy running on the city streets. Like the
city itself the terrain can get a little challenging; well at least for a city.
Running the city definitely prepares you for any hilly challenge you might
encounter in a road race. The truth is that I enjoy running different parts of
the city and enjoying it. I try to show all the eye catching sights of the city
on my Instagram page and hopefully people can see it the from my loving eyes. Running
has definitely made me appreciate the city a lot more and I am still amazed. My
current favorite route, of course it changes, is running piers of the harbor
from the inner harbor to Canton. Or is it running from M&T stadium to Fort
Mchenry then Federal Hill Park. Maybe it’s running Charles street from Downtown
to Hopkins University at Charles village and back down. Oh…running around Lake
Montebello to the Morgan campus and back, Oh yes….Druid hill park with the
hills in the back roads is a lot of fun….then………
Thank you Kayode for sharing how you stay active, healthy, happy, and why you run.