Let Us Be A Light

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We Rise By Lifting Others

Roger Ingersoll

I’ve been thinking about the last day or two and where we are in the world and I can’t help but think….we can do better. The time for talk is over.

We. Can. Do. Better. We. Must. Do. Better.

Our actions have to meet the day. Our actions have to give hope. Our actions have to provide a light so that others may see it and be encouraged.

So here’s the promise: Runners Doing Good is committed to amplifying the stories of those doing good within our own community while still working our hardest to support NeighborLink Fort Wayne through our own campaign to raise awareness and money to benefit them so that they can continue to do the amazing work they perform within the city of Fort Wayne.

It is easy to get drug down into the negativity. May we all stand strong, steadfast, and committed to supporting each other as well as purposefully and intentionally drown out the negative by promoting the good in the world around us.

Thank You Andrew

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In the fall of 2018, Runners Doing Good, then Runnin’ Not Walken, was at a crossroads. We had made the difficult decision to part ways with our original cause of choice due to a difference of opinion over how our team should operate. The team and I were so invested in them that although the decision was the right one for our team, it was still devastating. I would be lying today if I told you there wasn’t a part of me still stung by how that went down. Nonetheless, we really were at a place of uncertainty.

Would we continue? Who would we run to benefit? It was a time of much thought and research into the types of organizations that we’d want to work to benefit. It was really difficult to find one because there were so many good organizations out there but one kept coming up in conversation: NeighborLink Fort Wayne.

I decided to check out 3 different organizations, NLFW being one of them. The first two asked who I was in the running and I told them. Their response, “If you don’t choose to do something with us, you absolutely can’t go wrong with Andrew Hoffman and NeighborLink. He’s built something pretty special over there and they’re doing great things.” They couldn’t have been more right. NLFW and Andrew have been as advertised and then some and we are proud to continue that partnership today.

Andrew has left an indelible mark on our community and I’m sure will continue to do so even if he’s not the Executive Director of NeighborLink. As a small running group that didn’t work with him as closely as others did, we felt priviledged to have worked with him so I can only imagine how those that have worked with him all these feel right now.

He allowed us to be us. He didn’t dictate how we needed to do anything but gave us the flexibility to continue on as we have in the past to work to support the good that NLFW and he were doing within the community.

So it is with genuine sincerity that we thank him for his support and our best wishes for continued success in making our crazy world a little better.

If you’d like to read his press release, please visit NeighborLink’s blog:

Thank You For the Past 13 Years

2021: The Comeback Starts Now

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I am a child of the 80’s and nothing was cooler than watching Rocky 5. The end of the Cold War was ending and Rocky in all of his flag trunked glory defeating Ivan Drago, garnering applause even from fake Gorbachev was awesome.

That movie as well as every other movie in the Rocky series wouldn’t be the same if Rocky just steamrolled everyone. If Rocky were Ivan Drago, how fun or interesting would that have been?

Rocky wasn’t Drago and he had faults and often lost, in some fashion, in every movie before he rose up, trained, and ultimately won the day. I feel like 2020 – 2021 will be like that.

So many lost so much in 2020. Even those of us who were fortunate to not suffer the loss of family, a job, or even deal with catching the virus itself have dealt with isolation, depression, and various other issues that only this year could throw at us.

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So here’s the deal….THE COMEBACK STARTS NOW!!! This doesn’t mean that we’ve found the light at the end of this tunnel of suck that we’ve endured, however, it means that we’re encouraging you to finish the planning and hit the road THIS YEAR to make a difference in your space, your life, your community. Many have been stuck in neutral or felt cooped up during this year and it’s time, like Rocky, to hit play on your favorite training montage, get off of the canvas, and win the day!

So with that, here’s….

Runners Doing Good’s Goals for 2021!!

1) Achieve Epic Goals by Tackling The Epic

For us, this is a multifaceted goal but when it comes down to it, we are a running team primarily consisting of “average joes” who look to use their love of running and community to achieve an above average amount of success for a great local charity.

This has manifested itself in us participating in long distance, relay style races every year, with the exception of 2020, to raise money for local charities.

Once again in ’21, we’ll be running to benefit NeighborLink Fort Wayne! Learn more about who they are here and how they’ve used the money we’ve raised in the past, here:

NLFW helped keep Fort Wayne warm by using some of the funds we raised to help fix or repair furnaces in area homes.

So what is a Ragnar Trail Relay? Here’s a good description:

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What is comes down to is that our team is going to run 128 miles through the forested hills of Hanson Hills Recreational Area in Grayling, MI and it’s always an exciting endeavor to take on a task this large.

The beauty of running a Ragnar whether it is a road race or the trail race is that it’s an epic task that we could only achieve together and that’s a lot like what NeighborLink is doing within our community. They are tackling needs and projects of folks within our community that if one or two people tried doing it all, it’d be impossible.

But when you bring groups and teams together, anything is possible.

Our goal to benefit NLFW is set at $10,000 combined between sponsorship and private donations. We’re not aiming small by any means. Again….Achieve Epic Goals by Attacking The Epic.

$10,000 for charity because we tackled 125+ miles of hilly and wooded trails? Epic.

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2) Create a Revenue Stream

For more than 5 years now, we’ve been able to gradually increase our sponsorship so our expenses were fully covered which allowed our runners to spend more time concentrated on their running without worrying about how much this would cost. As the sponsorship dollars exceeded our operational needs, we’ve been able to give more and more to our charity of choice.

Yes, we’ve had an incredible amount of private support but the increase in sponsors has made a considerable impact on our ability to bump our totals from year to year. Initially, it was a couple of hundred dollars but in ’19, we had more than $1,000 in sponsorship dollars that went to NeighborLink. That’s impactful for what we do.

What we’d love to do is not only increase those sponsorship dollars but also increase the amount that goes to the charity because we’re able to cover some of our costs on our own. It’s why we started our ONLINE STORE with something small, wristbands:

We’ve only sold a dozen or so and at $5 each, it’s going to take a good bit for that to pile up but if we could cover one item through the sale of these wristbands, it’d be incredible to say we did that on our own and that those dollars will definitely be going to charity.

If we can achieve that, it’d be a huge step in our team’s continued evolution.

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3) Plan for 2025

Every year since this all began, it has surpassed anything I could have ever imagined. I’ve had a thousand ideas and goals of what this could be and at this stage in life I’m still grappling with questions like:

Do I truly have time for this?

Should we formally organize as a non-profit? Going non-profit, will it make it easier or harder?

Will people run for us without being on the Ragnar Team? If not, do we have the ability to field 2 teams?

Same race or different? How about running a Ragnar outside of the Midwest?

We’ve raised more than $27,000, in 6 years, can we get to $50,000 by year 10? Do I want to be doing this when I’m in my mid 40’s?

What can we truly be? Do it we grow this as far as it can, or do we remain a group of friends who enjoy the adventure of the run and the challenge of doing some good for folks?

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All of these questions are ones that need to be answered at some point. I feel like we have accomplished so much but there is room to develop this more, refine it, create community, and see it become impactful in a significant way.

I can not describe how blessed we’ve felt to receive the support we have throughout these years. It is humbling and I’m excited to answer these questions and to see where this goes but if we’re going to continue on, at least for the next couple of years, we need to start planning now.

2020 might have taken a year of competition and fundraising away but we’re game for reaching towards heights we’ve not hit yet in 2021 and that means we’ll have one heck of a comeback.

That all starts…NOW! Who’s with us???

Happy New Year’s everyone! May it be filled with wishes granted, good health for you and yours, and happiness that shows no bounds.

Sincerely,

Gabe

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2020: The Year That Was(n’t)

Difficult Roads Lead to Beautiful Destinations

For many, 2020 was a year a pain, a year of struggle, a year of heartache. For many others, particularly those in businesses deemed “essential”, it was a year of humbling success with the accompanying hesitance towards even mentioning it due to so many suffering.

It was a year that sapped the motivation right out of folks while also providing the time and opportunity for others to think, tinker, and mold ideas into action, to put soles to the pavement, and all have, as we’ve sat at our desks, often remotely, contemplated what the next year will bring.

I used the above quote, “Difficult Roads Lead to Beautiful Destinations” because I’m an optimist at heart. I believe that there’s good around any corner if you’re willing to look for it and I believe that good is around the corner in 2021.

Part of knowing where you’re going is understanding where you came from and that’s why I’m writing this post. I’d like to share some things as a bit of a review from the late 2019 lead into 2020, and the struggles of 2020: The Year that Was(n’t).

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What it wasn’t:

Beginning in late 2019, planning was taking place that WAS going to be a year of change for Runners Doing Good. We were downsizing slightly from 12 runners to 8 so that we could participate at Ragnar Trail Relay Michigan. This would help cut down on some costs and simplify the process. He had plans to have non-Ragnar team members join the team to help fundraise and do more for our charity of choice.

What it was:

We didn’t run at all.

What it wasn’t:

From a personal standpoint, I, Gabe, was going to run twice as many miles as I had in the past, running a 1/2 marathon in the process.

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What it was:

My motivation for personal improvement waned and I learned how important mental health is in a pandemic filled, remoted existence where seeing friends is less frequent. While I felt like I’ve maintained that optimistic attitude, moments of anxiety, lack of interest or effort, and a general malaise as I watched days, weeks, and even months tick were, and to a degree, are persistently trying to creep their way into my everyday.

What it wasn’t:

We were going to launch our team store to provide a more consistent revenue stream to help, one day, pick the team up so that we could stand on our own so that sponsors’ dollars could go directly to the fundraiser.

What it was:

We’ve sold enough to cover our costs and have about $20 in our pockets to cover a bit of gas to the event. This goal isn’t done yet and we’re going to try a bit harder on this one in the near future.

What is wasn’t:

It was supposed to be the greatest fundraising year that we’d ever had.

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What it was:

Put an asterisk on this one. Our first month was our best single fundraising month that we’d ever had. It was exciting and thrilling and showed that we were, even with the changes and smaller team, on the right path.

Now, this all sounds negative so here’s a big thing that made 2020 something I’ll always remember:

What it wasn’t:

Originally, the Ragnar Trail race was moved to Labor Day Weekend, potentially causing us to miss my son’s birthday. It would have turn 3 months of planning followed by 3 months of fundraising and running, into nearly a full year because we were going to pivot and have runners join us at the Fort 4 Fitness and even other events afterwards.

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What it was:

One of the things that’s been great about this Runners Doing Good and Ragnar adventure is that we’ve been able to do a lot of good. It’s also, at times, made life hectic and while worth it, when you throw a growing family, more responsibility at work, and a host of other oddities of life, it’s a lot. When everything cancelled, things became simplified.

We had the opportunity to do more things specifically with our kids, just us, than we’ve been able to do before. Did it cancel the long distance vacation? Yes. Did we spend a good portion of 9 days in an RV together and grow closer? Yes! We got to be in nature, hike, see all sorts of things in Southern Indiana which wasn’t the plan but we changed course and made it work…often for the better.

If the one thing 2020 has taught us, it’s that we’re more resilient than ever and that “going with the flow” is ok. Sometimes what ends up happening after you change course is really what you were supposed to do anyways.

I might be a bit heavier than I want to be right now BUT if we’re better as a family AND the running team is potentially more positioned for long term success, that’s a win all around.

It has certainly been a difficult road to travel this year, BUT, I’m convinced that while we might be in the “are we there yet” part of the trip, the beautiful destinations are right on the horizon.

Cheers everyone!

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Merry Christmas

I’ve read that this Christmas isn’t about what being happy about what you GET but appreciating what you HAVE. I couldn’t agree more. It has been a difficult year but my family have truly been blessed and I fully acknowledge that’s not the case for everyone.

We have our health, our jobs, our family and while we’ve had to put some distance between us to be safe, we still have all of those things and that’s a gift in itself.

For those that lost any of those things this year, know that we see you and will keep you in our thoughts and prayers and hopefully as things evolve in a more “normal” year, whatever that may mean, Runners Doing Good will become a more active agent of goodness for those that need help so that maybe at Christmas 2021, we can help be a gift to those who may need it.

To all of those who have read along and supported us on our journey these last several years whether as a private donor or as a sponsor, know that your continued support is an immense gift to us and we are grateful for you during this holiday season.

Sincerely,

Gabe

A Runner Looks at 40: Part 2

Run 1 of 4 at Ragnar Relay Michigan 2018

When I put Runnin’ Not Walken together to get in better shape, I was 34, turning 35 later that year and completely unsure of what the year had in store for me. I’d spent the previous 4 years completely happy with my little ones being born and it just led me down a path where I wasn’t as active as I’d been and I didn’t end up in a spot where I was in very good shape, physically or mentally to a degree. I wasn’t happy with how I felt overall and I needed a change.

Tomorrow, is my 40th and I feel like I’m in the same boat all over again. 2020 has absolutely squashed my motivation and there have been some dark times this year. I’m a pretty positive guy but mentally, it has been a struggle at times to be that positive guy. I grew up an only child and was used to my time on my own and admittedly, there have been times in my life that I was perfectly happy doing my thing. I’ve had 2000 mile work trips in a rental car on my own and the quiet of it all was nice. It was odd to not share that with someone but it wasn’t bad.

Right now, I’d say much of what’s going on in the world today feels odd. I’m used to 40-50 people around all of the time and sometimes I truly want and need the quiet but while those road trips on my own weren’t bad, this certainly doesn’t feel like its good.

A run on one of the trails in Clifty Falls State Park, Madison, IN, Summer of 2020
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I love my family and get to see them more than ever but even in a nice room with the sun pouring in, I miss my teammates at work and it has been a struggle. This second time around feels a bit different and more upbeat but that first time I was home for 12 weeks? I found a dark hole about week 8. It wasn’t fun and it took one of my closest friends, a great pizza, and some Alaskan Brewing Co beer, and about 2 hours of conversation on my driveway in the early summer to snap me out of it.

Yes, I am concerned that I’m only 2 weeks back into this and I’m worried about it. I’ve not gotten back to running but a few times and it brings me back to being back in this boat of needing something more, a challenge, and something to snap me out of it because I’m not happy with my fitness as I feel like I’m back at square one.

I’m literally the heaviest I’ve ever been and when I’ve run, the times aren’t awful but they’re not my typical running times, nor should they really. I’ve not run consistently in more than a year now so why would they? I’ve made a point of being a runner, more for charity than for speed, but a runner nonetheless and I’ve not run consistently and in anything of consequence since September of 2019. It has been every bit the struggle and grind to get back at it.

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Ragnar Relay Chicago 2017

I am ready to turn the page and excited for what 2021 brings. I’ve mentioned this in other posts but ’21 is going to be The Comeback for the world and in many ways for me personally. The difference between the beginning of 2015, I didn’t know the first thing of what I was getting into with this running team, Ragnar Relay, or the fundraising that we do and now, I feel like I’m well experienced in what it takes to make it happen and it’s a matter of going out and doing it.

And speaking of doing it, here’s to a few goals for 2021. This time last year I threw out some goals and it all fell apart and I felt terrible about it. It’s been a crazy year and I’ve learned that I need to cut myself some slack, in the face of this year’s challenges, as well as others so here’s a short list of things I want to work towards in the year ahead:

  1. Drop 35 lbs. If I can do that, there will be some PR’s that will start falling.
  2. Get more sleep. Technically I’m writing this past midnight because I’m slightly prone to bouts of insomnia but I need to do better here. If I can do that, then my recover will do easier.
  3. Mileage: find more than in any year prior and with more consistency. If I can be more consistent with my efforts, the mileage will come.
  4. Once a month, once the weather gets better, find a new place to run…just because.
  5. Run the races….5K, 10k……13.1????
  6. Do Good, Run Good, Be Happy. If you can do the first two with some goodness in your heart, the last part will follow.
  7. Write my Ragnar experiences down to share as a book.

It’s hard to believe that I’ll be 40 tomorrow. It doesn’t feel like it and while I enjoy reminiscing, I look at my upcoming 40’s like this. I was busy in a crazy way in my 20’s. I was the most fit I’ve ever been, in my 20’s but I didn’t really try to be active. I just was. In my 30’s there was a good portion of sedentary lifestyle that we succumbed to but we also had 3 kids from ’10 – ’14 and they’re now more reliable to do what’s right and make life a bit easier….when they want to. The 30’s are ending with things at it’s least active but I’m looking forward to my 40’s because if I work towards my goals like I’ve stated above and am consistent with that effort throughout the next ten years, it could be the most physically fit decade in awhile and for that I’m excited.

Thank you for following along and have a great rest of your weekend!

— Gabe

My List of Thanks: 2020

2020…Wow. There’s a lot that can be said for this year and much of it would revolve around feelings of negativity. We’ve all been down at some point this year. There’s been tons of events and things we had high hopes for that never came to fruition. As years have gone, it’s been a tough one but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t something we could learn from or even be thankful for having experienced.

Usually, I’d insert my list of running related thanks here. There will be some here for certain but it’s going to be full of other things as well since there was so little formal running events available.

  1. My Family – Despite the craziness the world has thrown at us this year, we have gotten through it together. We’ve not been able to do much but what we’ve done, it’s been with each other. Big family trip to the West? Shot down! We pivoted to an RV trip in Southern Indiana and it was awesome! It might have been pretty close quarters and I was more than ready to sleep in my own bed by the next to last night, but I’ll always smile when I think about that trip.
  2. My health – I’m healthy, so don’t worry there but I was in considerably better shape this time last year. I never got Covid-19, I put on the “Covid-19” as in pounds. It’s not always going to be easy to maintain a healthy lifestyle in this pandemic filled world, both physically and mentally, but I appreciate what I had and determined to go get that back.
  3. My team – They could have seen this as an opportunity to be done with it all. It was a thought myself too but this group of men and women are awesome and excited about next year.
  4. Our sponsors – To Sue Teasdale and Coldwell Banker, Ruoff Mortagage and Kim Gonzalez, OmniSource and Mike Franio, Sara Ayres and her team at Don Ayres Honda, and Cap n’ Cork and Rachel Burkholder, THANK YOU! We simply couldn’t do all that we aim to without the support of our community leaders. It is empowering to have people such as you and businesses like yours backing our efforts. We are truly grateful for you and will continue to work hard to make the investment you put into us bear many fruits for NeighborLink through us.
  5. 2020 – It was lined up to be an amazing year and much of that amazing was dashed away. Somehow we’re a month away from the year being over but the fight still rages on. Sometimes you don’t know what you have till you don’t and there was a whole lot of don’t this year. It’s been difficult to see things to be appreciative of in the moment but I say this year has been a brake check. It’s time to look at those things we took for granted, be appreciative of them, and move forward which brings me to….

2021!

I’m thankful for 2021 for this reason. It’s a new day, a new month, and New Year. Yes, we’ll still be immersed in the middle of the pandemic when it begins but I’m holding on to this hope:

There will be a day when science is followed, vaccines are given, numbers will fall, and and people will smile again when life begins to be restored.

What’s your favorite part of a good movie? Is it the good guy running roughshod over the bad guys from beginning to end? No! It’s the comeback. If we were in a Rocky movie and we were Rocky, we’ve lost the match already but here’s the good part….

Mickey’s standing before us yelling at us to train work harder than we ever have before and Survivor is tuning up for a hell of a training montage. It’s coming everyone. 2021 is The Comeback! We’re going to get better by working harder, getting healthier, and ultimately, smack Drago Covid to the ground one last time. Shoot, maybe the Russians will even applaud.

So yes, I’m thankful for 2021 because it might not be great at the beginning but I’m a believer that when the comeback begins, it’s going to amazing!

What are you thankful for and what are you looking forward to most?

May you and yours, from my family and I, have a safe, healthy, and Happy Thanksgiving.

Sincerely,

Gabe

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On Staying Positive

2020 has made it hard to do a lot of things. I think staying positive has been chief among those that have proven difficult for me and I’d assume that a lot of you have struggled as well. There’s just been so much that has been taken away or shifted from our routine that it is easy to get bogged down by the boredom, monotony, negativity, pessimism, and oh, did I mention anxiety that life has thrown at us this year.

That said, it’s also given us a lot of goodness too and I think we need to keep that in perspective. Yes, things aren’t all rosy, and they may not be for a bit but, I’ve had and I’d assume you have as well, more time with my family than I’ve had in a long time. My kids aren’t getting any smaller and there’s going to be a day approaching soon where I’m not very cool to hang out with so the fact that we’re doing so much together, it’s a blessing.

Admittedly, I’ve not been good with my fitness throughout this time. I have to get back into a routine and a rhythm which I’ve been just terrible at this year but here’s my perspetive….2021 gets to be a massive comeback story and I’m excited about it. And being excited about something is a blessing too.

SO with that, here’s a couple of things that will help you keep your chin up and give you a boost if you’re needing it:

The Positive Side Podcast is a pretty cool bit of listening goodness and it’s exactly what it sounds like. It is run by Jeremy Todd, who actually went to my grade school and was the older brother of a friend of mine. Again, it’s great. Check it out. If you need to know anything about it, check out the picture I’ve included today. I borrowed it for this post. I feel like we all should follow this mantra. Don’t wait for the light at the end of the tunnel to arrive…be a lot for others! Especially yourself!

Ted Lasso – This might sound weird to include an Apple TV show on there but I just finished watching this and it really got me. There’s definitely an English Soccer fan, not suitable language for the kiddies, aspect to the show so this is only for the adults, but the main character, Ted Lasso, played by Jason Sudeikis of SNL Fame, is a genuinely and authentically good person. The cool thing about it is that a lot of characters, in shows like this, come across as weak and this is played as the exact opposite. He’s goofy but eternally and optimistically positive despite life throwing some challenges at him. It’ll put a smile on your face.

Have a great weekend everyone! Be on the lookout for another post come Monday!

Take Care,

Gabe

Runners Doing Good: By the Numbers Post Ragnar Michigan ’19

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3 & 2 – Number of Ragnar Relays run in Chicago and Michigan respectively

10 – Number of Vans rented

32 – Number of different runners that have run on behalf of Runnin’ Not Walken Runners Doing Good since 2015

969 – Miles run, in total, by Runnin’ Not Walken  Runners Doing Good

5.8 – Fewest total miles run by one runner since 2015

82.66 – Most total miles run by one runner since 2015

11 – Longest consecutive miles run during a Ragnar – Kelly Kreischer running part of runner 1’s 2nd leg and her whole 2nd leg as well.

9 – Percentage of RNW’s RDG’s total miles that the runner with the most total miles has run

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15 – Runners who have run at least twice with RNW RDG

7 – Runners who have run at least 3 times

188.4 – Mileage of the shortest course we ran (2017)

201.1 – Mileage of the longest course we ran (2018)

31 – Fewest hours on the course (2015)

33.75 – Most hours on the course (2018)

32.50 – Most current course time (Ragnar Michigan ’19)

94 – High Temp when we finished in Chicago in 2016, the hottest temperature we’ve competed in.

43 – Low Temp during the night run in Michigan in 2018, the coldest temperature we’ve competed in

27,000+ – Dollars raised for Fort Wayne area charities

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November Inspiration Challenge

Let’s face it. 2020 has been a bit of a drag…make that a lot of a drag. That said, it is the month of Thanksgiving. Sometimes, during really difficult times, like we’re all experiencing in one way or another, it’s tough to come up with things we’re thankful for but maybe if we just take some time, it’s actually more obvious than you might think.

So, here’s a challenge for you. The mileage doesn’t matter but when you go out to run, dedicate your run to someone or something you’re thankful for this month. Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a single day. Make your mileage count in a different way this month!

So here’s how to share together:

Tag @runnersdoingood on Twitter, @runnersdoinggood on Instagram, or @runnersdoinggoodinc on Facebook and use the hashtag #thankfulrunning

Know we’re thankful for you all and that we can’t wait to see all of the wonderful things you share.

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