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When is Global Running Day, you ask? It’s today, June 7, just in case it didn’t pop up as a calendar alert on your phone.
I’ll be celebrating this international event by taking a group of new-to-the-trails running friends on an adventurous run up and down Green Mountain in Boulder, Colorado. How about you?
Global Running Day started in 2009, originally as National Running Day, as a way to promote general health and fitness with the intent of getting people running. But because the U.S. already had an unofficial national day for that, called Thanksgiving—Thanksgiving is the country’s most popular day for running, with an estimated 1 million people participating in Turkey Trots—it became Global Running Day in 2016.
An estimated 2.5 million people from 177 countries pledged to run more than 9.2 million miles on the inaugural Global Running Day in 2016, supported by a lot of behind-the-scenes work by the New York Road Runners (NYRR) and the World Marathon Majors, two of the largest race organizations in running.
Celebrated on the first Wednesday in June, Global Running Day is a day that encourages anyone around the world to set out on a run of any length or duration—for health, for fun, for training, a good cause, companionship, adventure, or no reason at all.
Why Does Running Need a Day?
Why, you might ask, does running really need a day on the calendar to announce its presence with authority? To me, running is best when served almost every day, ideally with a hint of sunshine. Running is a daily affirmation that helps me maintain my mental and emotional well-being, and, hopefully, a catalyst to long-term physical health.
However, if there is also an International Pizza Day (February 9), World Tuna Day (May 2), World Bicycle Day (June 3), National Hike with a Tech Geek Day (June 20), even Global Orgasm Day (December 22), then why shouldn’t running have its own day?
If you dig a little deeper, it’s easy to see that the NYRR’s efforts are not a complete propaganda campaign to get people to enter their many races, but instead a community-building effort that is all about encouraging people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds to get moving—or keep moving—and, hopefully, get on a path toward leading healthier and more active lives. Those are all things worth celebrating, no matter how you engage in running.
While running is one of the most globally diverse sports in the world, and one of the simpler ones to participate in, as a recreational activity it has only recently started to represent more of a diverse blend of the greater U.S. population. Ultimately, it’s a mix of athleticism and community that should be accessible to everyone, so the more people we can encourage to get involved, the better the entire running community will be.
The NYRR is hosting numerous free group runs at parks around New York City (and a virtual 5K) with the sole intent of spreading the profound sense of joy, community, fun, and fitness that those of us who run on a regular basis know that a singular run can ignite.
Hundreds of other running clubs, race organizations, and independent running retail stores around the U.S. are also participating with fun runs, races, and challenges around the world. Fleet Feet is engaging its base of 250 running specialty stores around the country with a weeklong celebration called The Big Run—basically a series of fun, relaxed group runs from many of their retail stores and, in some cases, partnering brew pubs. There is also a Global Running Day Strava Challenge, numerous retail sales planned, and even a promotion to help you save money on race registration fees.
If you’re a longtime runner, you might be inclined to ignore Global Running Day altogether and just write it off as unnecessary marketing fluff. But if you embrace the intent behind it—sharing your healthy passion so that others might reap the benefits—more people can engage in the act of running for physical, mental and emotional health, happiness and holistic balance.
Here are five ways to celebrate Global Running Day, even if you didn’t know the day existed.
1. Duh, Go Running
Running can be a simple activity—put on a T-shirt, a pair of shorts, and some running shoes and get out there—but we all know how life can get in the way. Planning your day around a run isn’t about being self-centered or ignorant to other aspects of your life; it’s a purposeful way of making you accountable and attentive to everything else.
Running is best done with consistency, both for your aerobic fitness and for the structure and accountability it can bring to the daily chaos of life. No matter if you’re a longtime runner, a novice runner, or a never-ever runner, it begins with the desire to go for a run. Go running on Global Running Day and celebrate that you’re part of a worldwide movement of like-minded people capable of bolstering your health and changing the world for the better.
2. Include Everybody
Anyone who runs is a runner. It doesn’t matter how anyone approaches running, how fast they run, what they look like, what they wear, or where they grew up, running as a recreational endeavor is open to anyone interested and willing to put one foot in front of the other.
If you’re a new or novice runner, you don’t need to justify your existence by an average pace, training volume, or race highlights. While training for races offers rich personal challenges, you’re not defined as a runner by your race times. Although it’s mostly an individual pursuit, ultimately, it’s not about how fast we run or how far we go, but more about the moments we experience while running, and with whom we share it.
Some people might call it running; others call it jogging. Some identify as marathoners or trail runners, while others wave the quirky flag of ultrarunners. But we’re all doing the same thing for many of the same reasons, and we are all more alike—as athletes and as people—than we are different. This Global Running Day, let’s do our part to make running more inclusive and cultivate a community where everyone knows they belong.
3. Share The Joy of Running
As Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy has told us, running, or yogging, can be wild fun. And that’s especially true when you engage with other people. Running alone can be great and peacefully therapeutic, but running with others—friends, running partners, co-workers, family members, neighbors, or random people you meet at a group run—can offer built-in accountability, camaraderie, inspiration, motivation, and more.
For all of those reasons, long runs, harder speed workouts, and adventurous trail runs are always better when done with partners or friends. Running can be wonderfully social, a place to chat with a friend and let go of the stress of everyday life, and it can build community through a shared struggle and common purpose.
If you’re already a runner, then you know the hardest part about running is getting started and building consistency. Encouraging a non-running friend to join you on a low-key run through a nearby park or an open space trail might just give them the positive boost they’ve been seeking. If you’re just starting out, the positive effects of running will begin immediately, even if you don’t recognize them right away. The more you submit to the authenticity of running and the community it fosters, the more you’ll realize it contains a power bigger than yourself. (While Burgundy might not have really been a runner, Ferrell has run the Boston Marathon in under four hours.)
4. Run a Beer Mile
Running a beer mile is one of the hardest—and most fun—things I’ve ever done wearing running shoes. Running a beer mile is simple: a runner chugs a 12-ounce beer, runs one lap around a track, and repeats that three more times, a beer for each lap, as fast as possible–all without having it come back up. (That’s an unfortunate act that is politely referred to as a “reversal of fortune.”) The clock stops for each runner after the fourth lap is completed, unless they spew, when an additional fifth 400-meter penalty lap is often required.
A beer mile is equal parts gastric challenge and athletic endeavor, according to the crew that is organizing the Beer Mile World Classic, the de facto world championship of this quirky discipline that will be held July 1 in Chicago. It might seem like an act of pure silliness—and, yes, it is—but it’s another way to share the fun of running. (And yes, you can do a non-alcoholic beer mile, a chocolate milk mile, or a seltzer mile!)
5. Give Back
Two-time world champion trail runner Joe Gray spends a lot of his time training in Colorado Springs, Colorado, but he wants to see more people of color enjoying the trails like he does. He’s hosting a trail running camp for kids in Colorado Springs in August, in conjunction with his Project Inspire Diversity. It’s just one example of someone sharing a passion for running by giving back.
Consider celebrating Global Running Day by donating your time or money to an organization that supports the running community like Girls on the Run, Back on My Feet, or Achilles International. Fleet Feet partners with Black Girls Run! to help make the activity more accessible to a wider range of demographics.
If you’re not apt to donate money, volunteer at a local race or donate your well-worn running shoes to a good cause like One World Running, Soles for Souls, or Shoes for Africa. I’ll be donating to a medical fundraiser for marathoner Aaron Kuen, a California runner who, last December, was on the verge of the best marathon of his life before collapsing at mile 26 and being under intensive medical care for the past six months.
Not everyone likes running, and not everyone can do it. It’s been woven into the fabric of my life since I was a kid, but it’s been revitalized constantly by sharing it with friends and acquaintances. I’m not fast anymore, but it’s tied to the same existential raison d’etre. It’s not about the modern notion of “finding your why,” it’s about knowing your why and pursuing it relentlessly amid the messy challenges of life.
Personally, I’ve never once headed out the door on a run and come back feeling worse. Sure, I’ve had some rough runs in rotten weather, but I’ve always found at least a tiny spark of positive energy that has transcended the act of running and carried over into the rest of my day. And it’s often more than a tiny spark—often a lightning bolt—that reminds me how grateful I am to have the ability to voluntarily rev my engines and move my legs, no matter if it’s two miles or 22 miles.
And just to be clear, June 7 is also National Chocolate Ice Cream Day, so there’s a good chance I’ll indulge in that passion after my afternoon run.