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How running heals.

Yesterday, several members of the Skid Row Running Club participate in a showing of the documentary, Skid Row Marathon at UCSB, benefiting the New Beginnings program there.

It was a packed house with many UCSB students in attendance.  

At the beginning of the screening, the moderator, a university professor said something that I found extremely profound, yet obvious.  She said, "addiction and homelessness are caused by relationships and they must be healed through relationships."

Although I have intuitively known this from my time in the Skid Row Running Club, I've never heard it summarized so eloquently.  

Many students followed up with great questions and one common theme which emerged was the issue of trust.

There were a lot of varied answers and discussions about trust, but it came down to the same basic principle: relationships, good ones.

When dealing with homelessness and addiction, we are often disgusted, embarrassed or look away because we simply don't know what to do.

The answer has always been right up in front of us:  engage and form relationships.  You will be pleasantly surprised with what you will find.

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Beginning runners are welcome!

Sometimes there is a misperception that you have to be a seasoned runner in order to run with us.  Absolutely not true!

A lot of the experienced runners in the Skid Row Running Club, started as new runners.  Everyone has to start somewhere.  It's best to start with the support of a community.  If you want to run, need the motivation to run, we will teach you!

A person learning how to swim, play basketball or any sport doesn't just go out there and 'do' it and then learn to do it well.  In order to truly enjoy and master an activity, you need coaching and engaged in deliberate practice.

Running is about efficiency, it's not about grinding it out all the time.

Please join us any Monday or Thursday at 5:50am at the Midnight Mission.  Free, secured parking the garage.

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How come runners are so generous?

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How come runners are so generous?

Most people who experience homelessness, addiction or incarceration have experienced unimaginable trauma at some point in their lives.  Numerous studies have confirmed this, adverse childhood events, ACE, can have a tremendous impact on a person's life trajectory.  This is true for many of the runners in the Skid Row Running Club who are in recovery.

People who have experienced trauma are often distrustful of other people and don't see the 'kindness' of others. 

On the Monday morning run after the Griffith Park Marathon Relay.  (Our club was given two free team entries from the folks at ARC.)  Several of our runners who are in recovery, commented on the generosity of the running community.  For example, when we set up our tents and tables for 'our' team, strangers came up to help us set up.  As the day progressed, we were invited to visit the tents of other teams and invited to partake in their feasts.  Other teams came up to us, after seeing our running outfits, and expressed their gratitude for our work in the community.  They asked if they could run with us in the future.

We set up next to the Long Beach Running Club.  They used PVC pipes to set up a gigantic tent in order to set up a food buffet in their space.  One of our runners said he ate the most delicious sandwich.  He said the spread they offered was amazing.

Other runners from our club noticed that even though the relay was a 'race.'  The racing was done in a competitive yet friendly environment.  Everyone was waiting in the chute for other teams, runners and cheered everyone on.

People who have experienced trauma and homelessness have usually 'learned' to become mistrustful of all people; people they love and especially strangers.  But at the Griffith Park Marathon Relay,  the runners in recovery experiened the generosity of runners.  This is something I have witnessed myself on countless occasions.

A quick shout out to our friends at The Running Charity, a UK running club founded to help youth age 16 - 25 who are at risk for homelessness.  They get it too.

Please leave a comment or a suggestion.  Is there anything you would like us to address?

 

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It's Hot in Here!

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It's Hot in Here!

Sometimes it really difficult to get out of bed to run when it's cold, but what about when it's hot?  

The good thing about running in the cold is that you can run longer with less effort.  Some people really enjoy running in the heat.

Most people are naturally concerned during the cold and rush to shelters to provide clothing and blankets.  But the need during the summer heat is great as well, particularly on Skid Row.

Although summer has just gotten started Los Angeles has already broken heat records.  During our runs in Skid Row, we've noticed even more people and more tents as people are looking for relief from the heat.   

Recently I came across a great article in the LA Times about one person trying to do something to help those suffering in the heat.

That article besides detailing the heroic efforts of one person to help provide water to those in need, also mentioned the community reaction to this person's efforts.  Some people praised it, others jeered it.

It's a tricky issue:  Do you give handouts to people in need?  What difference does it make?  Aren't we just enabling 'those' people?

In my experience, most homeless people don't initially choose to be homeless or addicts.  Certain life circumstances caused them to fall into homelessness and addiction and the subsequent loss of self-esteem keeps them there.

Does the Skid Row Running Club have solutions?  We don't pretend to have them, but one thing we know that makes a difference:  When you case and recognize another person's humanity, that is a big first step to helping them lift themselves out of the cycle that got them into homeless and addiction in the first place.

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The 1 thing everyone needs to become a successful runner

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The 1 thing everyone needs to become a successful runner

Sometimes running is hard.  Sometimes it sucks.

But there is something about it that becomes addictive.  I've said before, you mean not feel like running at times, but you never regret having run.

So what is they key?  Consistency.  Do it and the do it again.  Create a schedule and stick to it.  In the Skid Row Running Club, we run 5 miles every Monday and Thursday and then do a long run on the weekends.  

Our Monday and Thursday runs start at 6am.  That's early for a lot of people.   Sometimes even I have a hard time getting up.   We all do it because we want to develop a habit, we want to make it automatic and not think about it.  When you think about having to go for a run, you start rationalizing all kinds of reasons why you shouldn't go for a run.  Even when you run, you have a dialogue running in your head as to why you should or should not be running.  You question your sanity at times and wonder why anyone would do this to themselves.  Do let those doubts creep in!  Just do it!

When run consistently, the more you enjoy it and the faster your become a better runner.  Before you even realize it, it has become automatic, a habit.  Than the consistency becomes natural. You know you will have become a lifelong runner when it no longer feels normal not to run.

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Why Hollenbeck park is the perfect rest stop

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Why Hollenbeck park is the perfect rest stop

Our morning runs our 5 miles, but we don't run for 5 miles non stop.  We run up 4th Street to Hollenbeck Park in East Los Angeles.  It's roughly 2 1/2 miles to that point. 

At the park there is a lake and lots of ducks and geese.  If we haven't quite woken up yet when we start at the Midnight Mission at 6 am, we are by the time we reach Hollenbeck Park at 6:30am.  There we wait until other runners have a chance to catch up and share announcements about upcoming Skid Row Running Club events. 

For those of us who felt chilly at the beginning of the morning run, our bodies and lungs have a chance to warm up, so we are all feeling physically good at this point.

Do you have any suggestions on other places we can run in the downtown LA area?  Leave a comment and let us know!

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Doctors should prescribe running instead of meds...

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Doctors should prescribe running instead of meds...

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-44440369

This article says it all.  If it's reported by the BBC, it's gotta be true right?

There is no doubt that running is one of the best form of exercises available to us.  The US Surgeon General and all doctors agree that exercise for at least 30 minutes, 3 days a week is the minimum to maintain good PHYSICAL health.

However, in the Skid Row Running Club, we've seen how the act of running itself can have tremendous impacts on a person's mental health.  Many people who suffer from addiction to alcohol and/or drugs are physiologically dependent on those substances, until something can replace it and their body can learn a new set of habits. 

Those recovering from homeless and addiction also suffer bouts of low-self esteem and confidence.  Running helps with that as well.  When you show up consistently, you improve.  Then you start setting goals for yourself and when you reach them, then you set bigger goals.

The runner's high is real, it's natural and it has no negative side effects.  

More importantly, it's free!

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