Writing this as I'm sitting down at home after making a big material donation (clothes, hats, gloves, toiletries, etc) to The City Mission followed by dropping off several hundred dollars to St. Herman's House in Ohio City. YOU are 100% responsible for this, so THANK YOU.
I considered just depositing the cash raised and writing a check to St. Herman's and sending in the mail but last minute decided I wanted to stop by and check out the operation. It was a decision I don't regret and won't soon forget. It raised me up in a way I needed and made me realize that what we are doing together is good, good work. I have to be honest, sometimes I question if the time invested in the group is worth it. Is it sustainable? Do I enjoy it that much? Is it too...WEIRD of a running group? I'll tell you that after today and seeing where the money we raise goes to, you can't put a number on what it's worth. It's priceless. If no one reads this, I have every intention of using this to look back on when I'm doubting what we're doing.
*PS: working on volunteer opportunities for the group to take part in around the city. Stay tuned!
I feel incredibly honored and grateful to be leading a group that acts as a catalyst to help out around Cleveland in a very small but very important way. WE, together (if you're reading this chances are you've helped Run Wild CLE out sometime along the way) are doing good work and I want to write this and share that your donations go so much further than you can imagine. Thank you for not only buying into the quirkiness of the group and the off the wall runs, but for also buying into the efforts we put out on top of the tough physical effort!
We show up, we run, we drink beer, most give some type of donation and we go home. It might make you feel good in the moment and you'll soon forget it, too. This blog is to THANK YOU because you're helping people that need help and truly changes their lives. Please know this and remember it.
I was invited into St. Herman's House for a cup of coffee when dropping off the donation and was truly floored at the operation and the work they were doing in front of me. Volunteers and workers running around cooking a hot meal, some unloading a truck full of donated coats and a number of what I assume were homeless folks being treated like decent human beings given coffee, meals, coats for those that didn't have one and someone to look them in the eye.
I had to fill out a receipt and the volunteer told me he'd be back in a minute to give me my copy. There was a gentleman by the name of Dave standing across from me while I was telling the Director who I was and what Run Wild CLE is about. The director walked into the other room and Dave must have been listening. He was awkwardly staring at me for a good minute. He slowly reached out his hand. "Thank you", he said. "I've spent many nights at this place and it's truly the most unique. It's unlike anything else. It's the only place you can show up to at 3am to warm up and ask for a sandwich. They do incredible work here."
St. Herman's helped Dave get back on his feet when he needed help the most. He said, "If it wasn't for this place, Lord knows where I'd be or if I even would be." He's now living in Lakewood in subsidized housing with a job and still finds the time to come back to the house several times a week to give back to a place that gave him so much.
Whether you run with Run Wild CLE and donate to our charities of choice or volunteer your time elsewhere, you're doing incredible work for brothers and sisters who need our help. In a fast paced world where we so easily get distracted we often forget about these people and these places. It's not always the big donations, it's not always the big ideas. It's the constant empathy and care for the less fortunate that makes the biggest difference. Chip away a little at a time and I truly believe the world is a better place for it. Make it a goal to volunteer once a month. Make it a goal to buy 2 less beers a week and at the end of the month, consider a charitable donation to a good cause with the money you saved up. Little things. Big differences.
Stay up with what we're doing, come out and run and know that you're truly making a difference. Even if you show up, NEVER donate but bring a good energy to the group, I want to thank you just the same. It's so crucial to the success of this group and especially to me.
Join us this Thursday at Platform Beer Co. for a run that will benefit St. Malachi in Ohio City. Platform will be donating $1 per beer to our cause. Also, we will be donating to St. Malachi through the Gates Foundation as during the month of November they have generously agreed to match charitable donations of up to $1,000 so whatever we raise this Thursday will be doubled!
***100% of your donations go toward the charity of the week.
RUN WILD. DO GOOD.
...and change the world one high five at a time.
But really. Our mission statement changes on the daily (we don't actually have an official mission statement yet) but I think through trial and error were down to a couple.
*FREE T SHIRT TO ANYONE THAT CAN COME UP WITH A SOLID MISSION STATEMENT!
1) Run Wild. Do Good.
*simple, bold and to the point covering all bases of what we do.
2) Changing the world one high five at a time.
*arbitrary, vague but incredibly powerful and something I truly believe happens every time we throw up a high five. I mean, think about it. I always include it in our pre-run meet and greet as something mandatory that must take place. "High five people running by as much as possible". Two total strangers connecting and celebrating over something as simple as a high five goes a long way in connecting us together as humans. I owe much of this belief to a story I heard (and there are many renditions to said story but all the same idea) when I was younger. It's stuck with me entirely. "The Starfish Story."
When I initially started Run Wild I was humbled following every workout seeing a couple people get done, smiling ear to ear talking to someone they didn't know prior to showing up. You never know who walked into that run or workout after a bad day, after losing their job, fighting with a spouse or didn't get to talk to anyone yet today. People always leave happy. Hell yeah.
It started with about 10 people. It gave me a purpose to have a positive impact on even one of those 10 peopled without people showing up it wouldn't be a thing. THANK YOU. We're not a huge group but we're growing, topping out at just about 100 people at a workout this summer. I think most of those people went home happy, better off and with at least one new friend. I sleep better at night knowing that together we're making a difference both within the group (getting people outside of their comfort zones and meeting new friends while doing something healthy) as well as outside the group itself (raising money for charity, shoveling folks driveways, picking up trash, etc.). IF WE CAN CONTINUE TO THROW ONE STARFISH BACK IN THE OCEAN AT A TIME IT MAKES A HUGE IMPACT. If we can make a difference in the life of one person that shows up, we have been successful.
The last month or so as we're finally getting a big group consistently I've had my worries:
I was messaged earlier today by a woman (I won't say her name just yet or details of what's going on) who showed up to Friday's workout, had a blast and went home inspired. She's from a small town out of state and said she had been looking for a way to bring people in her community together where there is a clear divide and disconnect. She politely asked if I'd have any interest in branching out and seeing Run Wild have a sister city.
It made me teary eyed, immediately brought me back to why I started and put things in perspective. There's nothing particularly special about this run club other than we celebrate our differences and use running and working out as a way to bring people together that otherwise probably wouldn't connect in a different setting.
If you're wondering if I'm down to see Run Wild grow to another city...HELL YES. I think it's incredible and very humbling. I can't wait to get started.
I just hope in a world where you open your computer and read about hate groups marching, nasty things happening, people letting the color of their skin determine who they stand with, that you see Run Wild as a small, small beacon that acts as a platform for those that want to celebrate differences, to those that are fearful of hate group activity, to those that are outcast and don't have a group to call their own. I hope it's not just a running group for you but a family you look forward to seeing every week. If it is just a run group, that's A-OK!
I hope you'll consider coming out, being weird, meeting new people and joining our family.
Run Wild. Do Good.
Does the above image look familiar? Possibly from a social media post we sent out this time last week? Either way, please read on. To be honest, I'm a little disappointed..
•if you didn't send in "payment" this week, I still want you to show up and run with us.
•if you plan to never send in payment, I still want you to show up.
•if you send in payment once every month, definitely show up.
Im not holding grudges against anyone or the group in general. I boldly want to see this take flight.*
When I started Run Wild CLE (RWC) the intention was to have a fun loving, all inclusive running group that was structured to bring a youthful energy back to running and bring positive change to our community. Beyond that, the intention was to have zero agenda; not pushing products, not affiliated with any store or foundation (I work at 2nd Sole in Lakewood so naturally there's going to be an organic affiliation). I simply wanted to get people together for a good time and a good sweat.
As RWC has grown and evolved over the short time we've been consistently meeting for runs and workout, I think we've accomplished bringing fun back to running and bringing people together. Big group or small group it's incredibly rewarding to see people laughing and smiling as they're finishing up with at least one new friend. Many of you can probably say you've done a "Hoisty" with someone you've never met or someone you'd probably never walk up to and start a conversation with. HELL YEAH TO THAT.
Most recently and most important to this blog, we've added a new element to RWC that I'm grateful for and am going to push hard to make a legitimate component of the platform (even if it ends up being the downfall of this group). Workouts were free...totally free, no registration...just show up. Awesome. The above graphic and the reason I'm motivated to write this is that I announced Thursday of last week that the workouts would no longer be free. It probably caught some attention, or at least I hope. I asked that your payment for the workout now be to do one nice thing for someone or something in the week to follow. Something as simple as picking up a piece of trash or holding the door, one simple thing. I'd love to see people do bigger things like mowing their elderly neighbors lawn, driving someone to work, paying for a stranger's coffee, etc. My request was one nice thing in the week following the run and also that you either share it publicly (to inspire others to join the movement and do something nice/keep yourself accountable) or at the very least, message me or email me telling of your act of kindness (it's really rewarding for me to be a catalyst for positivity and kindness and I was/am looking forward to reading about what folks are able to come up with). At the run last Friday, I announced the change before we started and 95% of the 40 people in attendance were in agreement and many even verbally said yes to some extent.
Can I seriously expect to get 100% participation in this? Absolutely not. If I get 40 people out, realistically I'd be content with 5 people taking the time to respond.
To be blunt, I did not put that post out, that idea forward or make that announcement before our run to be cute. I really didn't. I didn't put it out there to get likes or get a positive response on social media. I put it out there because I genuinely believe in being a kind, good person and I want that to reflect and radiate as far and wide as possible. This is one small and silly attempt at that but I believe in it. If I'm going to dedicate my free time to show up for these things once a week, I think it's not too much to do one nice thing over the course of one week and take 2 minutes to tell me about it (again, publicly or privately). If you did something nice and didn't tell me, I'm seriously OK with that.
It's so incredibly easy in the modern world of social media to scroll past something that pulls at your emotions, double tap and move on, forgetting about it within the hour. Is this actually doing anything to affect positive change internally or externally? No...hell no. That's a big part of the vast general problem I think the world is facing today. We're losing the face to face, the human connection. We can write about it, we can talk about it and we can double tap until our thumbs our sore (or our phone dies). WE WANT TO MAKE REAL CHANGE.
...did I yet mention that I got one person post about picking up trash post last Friday's workout? I know it's only the first week and something like this takes time to catch on (which is part of the reason I'm writing this), but there were 40 people there. I'm very serious about this "payment" and it's how I justify continuing efforts and time to keep this group going. It's something I truly believe the world needs more of. I truly don't think it's too much to ask. I'm aware I may lose some folks who are offended by the demand (and again, you DO NOT need to partake in posting but 1 out of 40 just isn't going to cut it...) but this is something that I very seriously am implementing as a major component of Run Wild CLE moving forward and I'd rather stick to a small, incredible group of people than serve a big group that strays from where my passions lie. On that note, just imagine if you were part of a big group of, positive, like-minded difference makers in your community? Isn't that powerful and exciting? I'm not just here to say go run 3 miles or give me 10 burpees. I want Run Wild CLE to be a platform that inspires and generates positive change in our community and beyond.
I hope in reading this word vomit blog post that you are inspired to help someone or something, show up to an RWC workout instead of turning away from the challenge...
PLEASE consider helping your neighbor and maybe even talk about it a bit. Invite some friends to take part. Your small act of kindness will indefinitely make the world a better place.
THANK YOU and GOOD VIBES TO YA!
I was first inspired by working out in the streets on a Friday night when I stumbled across a video on the Wolfpack Hustle. Essentially, it's a "crash course" cycling race that takes place in the wee morning hours before the LA Marathon. The streets are already closed and this underground movement began to roll with a single bike race but has since grown into a huge following with people showing up to race from all over the world with multiple races for different categories. Winners get a dog tag and bragging rights for one year.
Watch the Wolfpack Hustle here:
We've always thought working out on Friday night's would be a fun thing for adults to do. Under the city lights, the streets pretty empty with folks out to dinner or settling in after a hard week of work. If we can get a crew to start showing up it has the potential to turn into something bigger. Underground races, half marathons, stair climbs, maybe even our own little cycling race. Maybe? There's a lot of ideas floating in and out of my head.
There's a world of people out there that would rather break the cycle of drinks on a Friday sitting at a bar keeping boring conversation when many of us totally want to break out of that cycle. I know it. I know I'm not alone in looking for something different, something a little more healthy than 10 beers and pizza, something that will have me waking up Saturday morning feeling good and refreshed, not stuck in bed until 10am. Break the cycle with me. Bring a beer to shotgun before the run or put whiskey in your water bottle and meet me in the middle.
You never really hear about a Friday night group that meets unless it's a specially planned event. Why is that? Do people really not want to show up? Can't we make it worth while? What if we actually got a big turnout, some high energy and a great workout? I'm curious to see if we can, anyway.
*We are meeting this Wednesday the 31st, 7pm at Merwin's Wharf for our run but will try several Fridays in the near future to see what kind of turn out we get. I HOPE YOU'LL SHOW UP.
Check out the event page by clicking HERE.
Friday, June 9th will be our first Friday night workout. If you're looking to mix up the routine, think about coming out and joining us. Recruit a friend. Bring a lively energy and get a little wilddddd. We'll post the workout here soon on our "Meet Ups" tab as well as our social media platforms.
STOP TAKING RUNNING AND WORKING OUT SO SERIOUSLY. this group is to remind you that it can be fun. it can be fun and you can still get a really good workout in.
Run Wild CLE workouts are just about every week (I occasionally take a week off for some personal R&R) and are completely free. We are weird, we work hard and we have fun. We run hills, we run stairs, we do burpees, we grab a partner for circuits. There's A LOT of high fives being thrown around. Just this week we did a team relay where folks sprinted out into the frigid Lake Erie water to end our workout. Essentially, anything goes. I assure you the workouts will always be free. That's a promise. It's time invested on my end and even I questioned why I show up for free and asked myself if I should start charging or trying to find a way to make a monetary gain (shameless plug that the only way I make money is when shirts and hats are released, so if you want to support the cause, grab some swag). NO. This is a community effort and as long as people show up, work hard and have a good time, it'll always be free.
THE START OF IT ALL and the TEMPORARY FALL.
This all started on October 7, 2015. We woke up at 5am and headed down to Edgewater totally ready to face the reality that no one would show. I think we had a total of 9 people that morning. We totally winged it and put them through a half ass run/body weight workout but people seemed to go home happy. We kept it going. Workouts were either at 5:30 or 6am and as fall was becoming winter it was starting to get pretty cold. People showed up. There were a couple times it was 15 degrees with a windchill in the negatives, we were totally exposed to the bitter wind and the workout was scheduled at Edgewater Beach...people showed up. I think that winter we topped out at 24 people.
Somewhere in those early months I questioned the validity of the group, if it was too far out there, if I had the extra time to commit to this. If I was the guy to lead them through these things. I really had low confidence in my ability to lead a group through a workout. Should I hand it over to someone with higher energy or more background in leading a group like this? I did eventually let my negativity get the best of me and backed down from it for a couple months. Serious lack of confidence. When I finally came around and was getting ready to get the group rolling again I was slapped in the face with a somewhat surprise hip surgery that kept me sidelined for several more months.
Since feeling confident on two legs again, we've had the ball rolling every Wednesday night for a good bit of time now. The group is electric. Our first legitimate workout back was March 30 and there's a different mindset. "STOP PUTTING SO MUCH PRESSURE ON YOURSELF", I would tell myself. If people have a good time, they'll show up again. If they don't, they won't. I'm personally having a blast now and I think that makes a HUGE difference in the energy of the workout and the group. If you'll notice on our social media, language is never serious. We usually start at an arbitrary time like 6:34pm and do totally random things because...why not?
Why should you show up? What makes this group different?
Why should you come out? Well, why shouldn't you come out? I'd say come out once and see what it's about. Even if that means you hang out at a distance and just watch the group, come get a feel for it. It is free, after all.
In short, we never really announce the workout but you can be sure it's going to be running and bodyweight workouts. One week could be 90% running and 10% bodyweight, next week could be flipped. Other weeks it could be 50/50. You show up and you take on what we throw at ya the best you can. As long as you're doing YOUR best, you're a rockstar in our books. We workout for time, not distance or reps. This allows the group to work together more cohesively and the intimidation factor for a slower person to hopefully be out the window. The more people that show up, the higher the energy and the more the group works together and pushes harder. It's incredible to witness.
You should show up because we put a fun twist on every workout. We start every one of them with "Meet someone across the way that you don't know, preferably someone you've never even seen before". BAM, you have one new friend to feel comfortable around and the workout hasn't even started.
We play goofy games like Duck, Duck, Goose. Instead of sitting the "ducks" are squatting, planking, doing mountain climbers...
This week an older man showed up with a bluetooth speaker wrapped around his waist, blaring Disney songs for the entirety of the workout. He was having a BLAST and screaming out the lyrics to the songs. He came up to me halfway through the workout and said, "Am I being too loud? Do you want me to turn it down?". My response, "CAN YOU PLEASE COME TO EVERY WORKOUT AND BRING YOUR SPEAKER?!".
WE WELCOME WEIRD, WE WELCOME SLOW, WE WELCOME FAST, OLD, YOUNG, FAT, SKINNY, NEWBIE, PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES (that'll be cool if someday we get a professional athlete), GAY, STRAIGHT, TRANS, DOGS, CATS, GRAMMA AND GRANDPA. If you're willing to show up, high five the person working out next to you, smile and participate, you're on the team. You're a part of our crew.
WHY DO I SHOW UP?
I show up to make new friends every week. I show up because I love what happens at these workouts.
What happens? Every time we meet there's this awkward ten minute period right before we start where the group is standing around waiting for announcements and to get going. Undoubtedly people are wondering what they're about to get into, if they're the slowest one here, who looks faster and if they made a mistake by showing up. "If I sneak out of here before the workout starts, will anyone notice?". Essentially, what I'm saying is there's some tension and intimidation.
I make announcements and do my best to be light hearted and break some very thick ice. No matter what, I can't fully break it. Then we start sweating and running and people loosen up. People start throwing high fives. People start randomly throwing in a skip in the middle of their run, or talking to someone new. The tension kind of melts away.
By the end of the workout, people are hugging, singing, jumping, laughing and are totally worked over ready to take on next week while feeling great with the workout they just did with 40 of their new friends.
I LIVE FOR THIS. This is so rewarding.
So whether you're a fat, old, out of shape dad who hasn't run in 20 years or a college football player or track athlete home for the summer, I guarantee you there's a place for you in our crew. I really think if you show up with an open mind and an eagerness to interact with other humans, you're going to go home a happy camper.
COME SEND IT NEXT WEEK.