Streaking, you say? What exactly does she mean by that? Well, let me tell you a story about the Raven. Not to be confused with the Native American story about the raven, this involved a certain man who — better than the postal system because they are only 6 days a week– has been running every day for the last 39 years on Miami’s South beach. 8 miles a day @14 minute mile pace! This man has been running the same 8 mile route and logged upwards of 100,000 miles. Believe it or not, there is a group that keeps track of various streak runners (USRSA: United States Streak Running Association), and apparently because he has run so long for so far, but run the same route every day, really separates him from the rest.
He is currently #8 on the list of more than 400 active runners. More than that, 1,900 people throughout the years have participated in his run, which takes place in the late afternoon daily at the Fifth Street lifeguard station. If that weren’t enough, he names every single person who comes along on his run and has an “roll call” of sorts at the beginning. All 50 states and 75 countries have been represented on the 8 mile run.
You might think that he is able to run consistently because the weather in Florida is pretty balmy most of the time. Aaaah, you are forgetting about hurricanes. In 1999, Hurricane Irene hit with 86-mph winds. That day, he was accompanied by three runners in hooded windbreakers and goggles while he ran in his usual outfit: shirtless. He said the sand stuck to him for two weeks afterwards.
The big question is: why did he start? Well, to make a long story short, he wanted to be a songwriter and went to Nashville to try and break into the business. He would hang out by the back door after performances and try to hand his lyrics to Johnny Cash. Apparently one day he was successful, but Mr. Cash directed him to a man standing on his right, who was a songwriter, and never heard back. Discouraged, he returned to Miami and six months later a Waylon Jennings song on the radio came on…and there were his lyrics. He called up the radio station to ask who the songwriter was and it was not his name. This news put him in a deep, dark depression.
One day about two years later, he encountered a boxer on the beach who struck up a conversation with him. That day the boxer was going to run and throw punches for two miles (his “roadwork”) and he invited the Raven along. Not having anything better to do, he struggled along next to him and finished the two miles gasping for air but felt marvelous for the first time in his life. Look what he has done since that fateful day!
Here are my takeaways from this story. First of all, there is power in an invitation. Invite someone to join you in your workout. Look at the profound difference it made in the Raven’s life, and then paying it forward he has inadvertently impacted many others’ lives. You could be the very first snowflake in an avalanche of goodness and fun! There is a lot to be gained in meeting up for a workout in accountability, as well, which we will explore in a future blog.
Secondly, I recently read a phenomenal book called “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain” The author goes to great trouble to document story after story, research article after research article on how best to combat depression and engage the brain. The Raven was suffering from a huge tailspin of depression, and guess what pulled him out? An invitation and exercise.
Wow. Pretty powerful. Imagine what an impact you can make with two things: an invitation for a walk. Or a run. Or a combo walk\run. Zumba class? Yoga or Pilates? Really, you are more amazing than you imagine! Give it a try and tell me how it went!