Review of the Brooks Revel running shoe

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Review of the Brooks Revel running shoe

Several weeks ago, Armand at Run with Us in Pasadena,  brought running shoes for members of the club. 

I was gifted a pair of the Brooks Revel running shoe.  Because I am a toe runner, I usually prefer to have a high heel to toe ratio in my running shoes since my heels don't completely hit the ground.  However, I have quite enjoyed running in the Brooks Revel so far.  There is cushioning in all the right places and ample support.  I am a neutral runner by the way.  The shoes feel light and it's suprisingly responsive.  However, I don't know if there is enough support and cushioning to last me on a longer distance, for example 13.1 miles or 26.2 miles.  For know, though, I am happy to run in these shoes for our weekday morning runs along Skid Row.

What's also nice about the Brooks Revel is that it is actually a shoe that I would wear when I am not running.  Since a lot of running shoes are somewhat built up in terms of support, they tend to look like loaves of bread on your feet, and seem to stand out when you are wearing long pants.  Not so with these shoes.  I have been very comfortable wearing those shoes with my chinos, because the bulk of the shoe doesn't bunch up the bottom of my pants.

All in all I would say this is one of the better all-around use shoes I have come across recently. 

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Strength shows not only in the ability to persist, but...

in the ability to start over. 

I am frequently asked what the 'success' rate of your running club is.  First, I think the word 'success' is difficult to define in terms of addiction recovery and homelessness.  Second, our club is not a treatment provider nor do we explicitly provide social services.

Having said that, the 'success' rate of the Skid Row Running Club appears to be substantially higher than for the recovery community at large.  I say this because many of our members have maintained their sobriety for long periods of time, for the first time in their life.  That have found the self confidence to seize the narrative of their lives.  Is it solely because of the running club?  Of course not. 

The best success stories always work in conjunction with other groups, or communities if you will.  We are but one such community, but we are a strong one.   With AA and our running club, people have two strong yet distinct communities that are there for each other.

It's with the help of these communities, that members of our running club are able to get back on their feet.  Almost all of them eventually find gainful employment or return to school to learn a new trade.  It takes a community of like minded people to encourage and support each other.

There are members of our club that relapse back into drugs or homelessness, but they have more resiliency.  They bounce back faster and when they are ready, the Skid Row Running Club is there to welcome them back with open arms.

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Running while the City of Angels still sleeps

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Running while the City of Angels still sleeps

I used to hate mornings, especially when it was still cold and dark outside.  I just wanted to curl up in my blanket and go back to sleep.

The Skid Row Running Club turned me into a 'morning person.'  Now when my alarm goes off before 5am, I can't wait to get out of bed, put on my running outfit and drive down to Skid Row. 

I look forward to seeing my running family, my friends in the Skid Row Running Club.  Even though most of us are still blurry eyed and sleepy, that soon changes when we head down onto 6th Street in front of the Midnight Mission.  That doesn't mean that I am ready to just jump into a quick 5 mile run.  It's not until we have crossed 6th and San Pedro Street and a couple minutes later start having conversations that the fun really begins.  It starts with a simple question such as "What are you going to do after the run?" or "How have you been?".  Immediately you stop focusing on the fact that it's early in the morning or may even forget that you are running.  

From mile 3 - 5, everyone is having a great time, the pace quickens although I don't think anyone really realizes that their effort has increased.  We finish at 4th and Crocker Street, where there are a lot of tents and frequently volunteers who are out on the streets to provide breakfast to the people living there.  We all wait for one another to finish, with high fives and fist bumps.  Everyone, I mean everyone, is in the best mood and very happy that point.  It made the early morning wake up worth it.  That's why I do it again and again.  

When you know you have friends that are counting on you and are also getting up early in the morning,  it's a lot easier to get up early in the morning.   The natural 'high' after having a good morning run is incredible.  It feels especially special knowing that you accomplished it with an amazing group of individuals.  Everyone walks away ready to tackle whatever obstacles that confront them.  We all realize that life is just a series of small steps, putting one foot in front of the other.

 

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What happens when a gang member runs a marathon

In November 2015, members of the Skid Row Running Club ran the Revel Canyon Marathon.  It's a mostly downhill marathon and while you would intuitively think that is great for us runners, but downhill running while easier on the lungs is absolutely brutal for the body.

For many marathoners, when you hit miles 20  -  22, you often hit "The Wall," the point where your body runs out of sugar and you start to become lethargic.  Imagine hitting "The Wall" and having your legs beaten to a pulp.

To prepare for the Revel Canyon Marathon, I spent a lot of time lifting weights in the gym to prepare my muscles for this beat down. (More on this in a later post.)

At mile 22, I was feeling good and running well.  But then I came across an unusual sight: one of our runners cursing in the middle of the street.  Onlookers were horrified.  Not necessarily because of seeing a runner who hit "The Wall" since this is a common occurrence at marathons.   But Josh, had his shirt off and his entire body was covered in gang tattoos.  Josh was a gang member.  In his sour mood and with his menacing tattoos, spectators were scared.

I ran up to Josh, put my hand on his shoulder.  He turned around.

"Don't touch me! I'm going to kill you!.  Oh, it's you."

"How are you doing?" I asked.

"What am I doing out here?  My body hurts, it hurts to breathe, it hurts to walk," was the reply Josh gave me.

I looked at Josh intently.  "If it hurts to breathe and hurts to walk, why not hurt and run?"  With that, I began to run.  Josh followed.  We ran the last 4.2 miles together.  As we neared the finish line, this former tough guy began to sob uncontrollably, shouting "I can't believe it!  I can't believe I am about to finish a marathon!  I was ready to throw in the towel and quit."

Afterwards Josh hugged me, he was very emotional.  I told him that less than 1% of the US population finishes a distances 26.2 miles. 

Josh realized that he could accomplish whatever he put his mind to.  From that day forward, his life took a very different path...

Any suggestions or comments?  Please let us know!

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"But I am not a runner..."

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"But I am not a runner..."

When someone learns to swim, they don't usually jump into the deep end and figure things out for themselves.  In order to swim, a person has to learn the proper technique and start slowly.   A person has to learn to move efficiently through the water, rather than fighting against it.  The same principles apply to running as well.

Most new runners start out running as fast as they can until their lungs burn and muscles ache.  I used to think that was running.  The problem with that approach is most people don't stick with running long enough to become good at it.  Like with most things in life, you never really learn to enjoy an activity until you have attained a certain level of mastery.

In order to  enjoy running,  a 'new' runner needs to start with the proper training.    As a rule of thumb, a new runner should be able to recite "The Pledge of Allegiance" while they are running.   Many times that means they have to slow down, even walk if necessary.  That's alright!  All runners start out that way.   Run your own race and don't compare yourself to others.   There is no speed that you have to run at in order to be a runner.  With consistent practice, your lungs and body will began to adapt and soon you will become naturally become faster while maintaining that same comfortable pace.   In most marathon training programs, runners spend 80% of training miles at a comfortable pace.  If you run all your miles 'hard,' until you are huffing and puffing, you will get injured more easily.  Getting hurt is not the point of running.  I think that is why people usually say running is bad for their knees.  It certainly is bad for your knees if you are running too fast and using the wrong form.

All new runners are welcome to join the Skid Row Running Club.  We want to make sure that runners get off on the right foot and learn to enjoy running they way we do.  We will teach you all the necessary steps so you don't just jump into the "deep end."

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Run by yourself and you may run fast, but run with others and you will go far

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Run by yourself and you may run fast, but run with others and you will go far

A lot of runners prefer to pound it out by themselves.  There is something meditative and relaxing in our hyper connected society where it's just you and the ground.

While running is an individual endeavor, I often think that it is best done in the context of a community.  There are certainly no shortages of running clubs here in Los Angeles, in fact it's easy to find one.  I encourage all runners to run with a group once in a while.  When you run and  engage in conversation, time seems to fly  and the activity itself becomes effortless.  Running with other runners pushes you to become a better runner and often times a better person.

Los Angeles County has a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions.  We have the largest homeless population in California.  California has the highest percentage of homeless people in the United States.

While we are not the government, can't build housing and don't have the resources to help everyone experiencing homelessness, there is something all runners can do:  come down to Skid Row once in a while and run with us.

The idea of running in Skid Row, probably the poorest concentration of homeless individuals in California probably sounds appalling, but in the context of a running community it makes all the difference.

Our club shatters stereotypes and perceptions about homelessness.  In the Skid Row Running Club, you learn that everyone has a story.  Many in recovery, have gone thru trauma and circumstances you could never imagine and you realize that sometimes it's just sheer luck that you didn't have those tragedies visit you.  However, running teaches us to just keep moving forward one step at a time.  Show everyday and make something happen, even when you don't want to.

The Skid Row Running Club fosters consistency and persistence.  When you show up to run weekday mornings on Skid Row, you are showing that community that you care and you are making a difference in the lives of others and yourself.   Plato once said that you can learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a lifetime of conversation. 

 

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Stamping out hunger

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Stamping out hunger

In the United States, millions of people are without adequate food on a daily basis.

The Skid Row Running Club, thru the efforts of Rafael, has been participating in Stamp out Hunger, a nationwide effort to bring food to the needy.

Every year, usually in May, you may receive a brown grocery bag, asking for donations of canned or unperishable food.  Your local letter carrier then brings those donated food items to your central post office, where they are unloaded, separated into crates and delivered to large locations.  

The efforts don't stop there!  After thousand of tons of food are collected, there is still the process of sorting the items and distributing them in an organized fashion.  

So the next time you get one of those brown bags from your letter carrier, make sure to fill it up with food items and you too can help end nationwide hunger!

If you are interested in joining us we will meet this Saturday on June 9, 2018 at the Midnight Mission at 7:30am.

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