The Hair Culture of Lagos

Years ago, I always imagined Africa as the home of all things natural hair, the place where I could go find those magical juices, berries and maybe some sort of indigenous nut oil that would allow my hair to thrive. When we think about Africa as the place to “go back to our roots”, it would only make logical sense that the root of the natural hair movement is also found on the continent. It wasn’t until I saw this photo oh-so-long-ago that made me start to think I had it all wrong:

Young women performing in Umhlanga (The Reed Dance), an eight-day event in which thousands of unmarried and childless Swazi women travel from all over the country to perform for the royal family. (Photo by Elton Anderson)

Young women performing in Umhlanga (The Reed Dance), an eight-day event in which thousands of unmarried and childless Swazi women travel from all over the country to perform for the royal family. (Photo by Elton Anderson)

As these women perform their native tribe dance, there is nary a natural curl in sight. Not a single one.

A similar observation began even before I hit the ground in Nigeria. On my plane, I observed ZERO other natural women, only relaxers, weaves and braids. Sure, beneath those weaves and braids the hair might be natural, but the inherent impression is that of a preference for straight, long hair. If the hair is worn short, it’s done so in a way that’s much more Halle Berry-pixie than Solange-TWA.

For days, this parade of weaves and relaxers continued through our adventures in Lagos. One would think that with such a cultural prominence, the hair would at least be healthy looking and well-styled. Unfortunately the opposite: I’ve never seen so many edges ripped out, broken ends and damage. Even young girls had patches missing from over applied relaxer.

We in the west set the global trends of black culture; it’s particularly hard to stomach that this is our beauty contribution to Africa. Just like we in the States had to conform to this a Eurocentric-standard of beauty, I wonder if the pressure to straighten was even stronger living under the influence of a colonial power.

Nevertheless, we were there to provide natural hair education and to empower women to wear their own hair. As a tribe of natural hair wearers rolling through Lagos, we certainly caused a stir because it was a rare sight to see.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 6.55.17 AM
Continue reading

Nigerian Natural Hair Show: Recap + Gallery

After months and months of preparation, last Saturday the Nigerian Natural Hair Show went DOWN and it was so much fun!!! The Kinky Apothecary team knocked it out of the park, putting together a fabulous 8 hours of educational programming and an fantastic expo. The event took place at The Federal Palace Hotel here in Lagos, Nigeria and over 200 naturalistas came from Lagos, greater Nigeria and even other African countries to learn, shop and snap selfies–lots of selfies– in their fantastic natural styles.

The day started off with a panel discussion facilitated by Nibi Lawson, Founder + CEO of Kinky Apothecary. I was honored to sit on-stage alongside an inspirational (not to mention GLOBAL!) group of women including Felicia Leatherwood (Celebrity Stylist), Obia Ewah (Obia’s Naturals), Ijeoma Eboh (KlassyKinkys), Ngozi Opara (Heat Free Hair) and Wunmi Akinlagun (Woman in the Jungle).

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 11.27.25 AM

I hopped on stage to present my workshop “The Top 10 Natural Hair Mistakes I’ve Made (and how to avoid them yourself)”. See, as a blogger, you’re often only posting the finished, polished and sometimes even photoshopped final photos of the natural hair journey. The truth is that going natural is HARD and even we bloggers still make mistakes, especially when starting off. I wanted to open up and give an authentic perspective on the struggle that is so real, but stand up as an example that with a bit of patience and perseverance—in the end it all turns out a-okay.

Towards the end of my talk, I also explained that one of my main goals with my blog is to meet and get the stories of naturals around the world, so I encouraged everyone to come find me and we could snap a shot with my selfie-stick. And BOY did these Nigerian Naturals sure love taking those selfies! I think I’ll write some sort of new African proverb that starts “If you give a woman a selfie stick, she’ll look as fire as the African sun.” Something like that… I’ll work out the copy soon, but for realz, people love the ‘Stick. It brought out a lot of smiles and laughs.

The rest of the day, all the other speakers hit the stage and I chatted with the local naturals, asking questions, helping them shop for products, and doing a little shopping myself (hey-o!)–I can’t leave these Ankara fabrics alone while I’m here….

Huge shout out to Nibi and team for pulling off such a fantastic event. Education is the MOST important part of the natural hair movement and she is such an inspirational example of drive and passion for providing that education to the women of Africa.

Now, without further ado, my full gallery of images:

28 and Freaking Out.

As a gal in the midst of her 28th year, I’m realizing I’m looking down the barrel at the ol’ 3-0. I know, I know, I know, “20 is the new 30″, which is a trendy and convenient thing to say when you’re in my position, but no matter– I’m kinda starting to freak out.

And apparently it’s…perfectly normal?

I don’t want to get mystical on you guys, but I’m going to get mystical on you guys. Hear me out.

Have you ever heard of Saturn’s Return? According to the astrological world, it takes Saturn 29 years to return to the same place it was at your birth. It’s during this phase of Saturn’s Return that we go through a period of testing, questioning, shifting and evolving that ultimately ends with the dust settling and you emerging with a new perspective, goals and course in life. It’s supposedly this first Saturn Return that is the most difficult because it coincides with the firm end of childhood and entry into adulthood.


Whether you’re into astrology or not, I think that there is something to be said about this bridge between your 20’s and 30’s and how you navigate that.

I turned 28 several months ago and since then my life has felt a bit unsettled and has thrown some pretty serious ups and downs my way. Coupled with the fact that my body just doesn’t seem as young as it used to in some ways (hangovers!? aches and pains!?!? WTF!?!), I’m pretty darn sure that I’m in the throes of my Saturn’s Return! I’m never too shy about letting you in on what’s going on in my life, so I thought I’d share that things are seemingly a little wonky over in my neck of the woods right now.

I found this great Saturn Return Survival Guide over on that I thought I’d share with you. While these lessons and learnings seem to be particularly pertinent to me right now, I think we can all appreciate the wisdom they hold.

Never compare yourself to anyone else.

No matter what stage you’re at right now, that is the exact place you should be. We all move, grow & mature at different times, but that doesn’t make any of us better or worse than one another. Someone may have their career all figured out but their relationships are a mess, while you might have your spirituality on lock but haven’t learned to save any money yet. It’s okay. You’ll get there. Take it one day at a time.

Take responsibility for your thoughts & actions.

I say this over & over & over, but now is REALLY the time to put it into action! You will never be in control of your life or your emotions until you start to own up to everything you think & everything you do.

Continue reading

In Which I Straightened My Hair (???????)

If there is one person that shouldn’t go messing around with my hair, it’s DEFINITELY ME. I am absolutely the WORST when it comes to experimentation, but for some reason I just can’t seem to resist it!

Case in point: a few weekends ago, I woke up with a craving to straighten my hair. I mean, it’s been YEARS since I’ve done this myself (and last time I almost broke my neck in the process), so I guess I was due for a bit of adventure.

I rummaged around my natural hair goodies and remembered that Motions had sent me a sample of their new Straight to Finish line! I popped open the box and not only was the whole product set in there, but ALSO a handy-dandy little flat-iron! How serendipitous indeed!

So I washed and conditioned my hair with their products. There’s actually only a leave-in (no conditioner), which made me nervous, but whatever—I was on a M.I.S.S.I.O.N.!

First things first, I sat beneath my hooded dryer and let my hair dry 85% of the way through. Then I dug out my comb attachment for the blow dryer and worked it through my curls.

At this point you might be asking yourself a very, very, important question:

Cass, do you even have enough hair to blow dry it straight!???

The answer is no, not really. But I worked it out.

Well, kinda.

The result was one of the more ridiculous looks I’ve ever, EVER seen on my head.


So, yea. That happened.

Then I proceeded to smooth on the Motions Straight Finish Sealer, aka heat protectant, a CRUCIAL step. Ever since I had to cut of 10 inches of heat damage once upon a time, we do not mess around without heat protectant!

Then there was the flat-iron. Almost immediately I was ready to be done. It’s that SMELL, ya know??? My hair wasn’t burning or anything, it just smelled…. straightened. It is a scent (stank odor?) I do not miss.

After about 30 minutes, I was through my entire head and the result was………..less than appealing.



I tried to make it work by adding my side part back and using some styler to hold down the sides, only to realize that the only styler I have is actually for CURLS so almost immediately my hair started to revert back to its natural texture.

Within 30 minutes, I was in the shower washing my hair and getting it’s texture back!

So what did we learn??

  • First of all, the Motions Straight Finish products did a great job. My hair reverted immediately and there was no damage. Thumbs up on the product living up to its promises!
  • Ya girl needed a haircut. BADLY! When I got my last cut, I didn’t want to go TOO short, so the blonde ends were left on. It added a little pepper of color, but honestly it always kind of annoyed me. However, seeing the colored pieces in their straightened form realized just how dry and damaged they were. It was absolutely time for them to go!
  • IMG_0937

  • I love my natural hair. Simple as that!
  • Welcome back, curls!!  You were missed!

    Welcome back, curls!! You were missed!

The Politics of Being Friends with White People….and Latinos, Blacks, Jews, Indians and Generally Most Other Humans.

Yesterday Salon published an article titled “The Politics of Being Friends with White People“, which discussed one woman’s journey from childhood to adulthood and the evolution of her friendships through the lens of race.  The author, Brittany Cooper, claims that as a kid she was surrounded by lots of white peers and as such as many white friends, but as she grew older and found herself in more situations with persons of color, that her friendships shifted and she found herself with closer friends who were black.

The article caught my attention because, well, I have white friends.  In fact, I have a lot, of white friends. And many of my best friends are white.  Awhile back I explored my position at the intersection of race as a “black girl living in a white world” with the Harlem Shake Divide example.  This “Friends with White People” article brought up similar themes and caused me to reflect on the fact that I am a black girl who not only grew up with a lot of white friends, but still has a lot of white friends.

I decided that I wanted to craft a response to this article, but in doing so realized that a response wasn’t so —pun intended— black and white.  As I took an initial stock of my group of close friends, I realized that it was a pretty darn diverse group of kids and I realized that I didn’t want to respond to this article about the racial demographics of my friend group alone, I wanted to get my friend’s opinions on it as well!  I mean, hey—if I’m going to put our interracial friendships on blast, then they should have a say in it!

Within hours and after a series of text messages, emails and phone calls, six of my nearest and dearest had agreed to make individual cameos here on NaturalSelectionBlog to explore the ideas of race and friendships.

While the author Brittany Cooper suggests that she spends more time with one group over another, I selected this particular group of friends to feature, because they frequently find themselves at the intersection of two ethnically disparate worlds. Just like me. Which is why we’re probably friends in the first place. See? It all makes sense.

So over the coming weeks, I’m going to be giving the keyboard, and in some instances the microphone,  over to a few of my close friends.  Here, please let me introduce you to them!  In no particular order:



Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 12.05.03 AM
My college roommate, international adventure buddy, and general all around badass. She was born in Argentina, raised in Atlanta and currently lives in Tennessee where she is studying to get her PhD in Educational Policy. After 5 years of working in public schools in DC and Brooklyn, she decided that the system sucks and she needs to change it. She is also a frequent commenter here on the ol’ blog.


Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 11.54.24 PM
Born and raised in the A, Stephen now lives in San Francisco where he manages one of the most popular restaurants in the city. As die-hard advocate of the importance of eating well with an emphasis on quality ingredients, Stephen shares a passion for writing and has started a media empire over here. Okay, real talk: our friendship was cemented because of a poll about whether or not people of color like grapefruit (DO YOU?). Two years later, our friendship is still thriving, only proving to me how impactful these discussions can be.


Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 11.56.53 PM
A college friend and sorority sister who I became extremely close to while studying abroad in France. Bianca was born and raised in Louisville, KY and is the daughter of two India-born parents (whose hospitality and cooking I will never, ever forget). Dr. Bianca is currently in residency at a hospital in Washington DC, which means that she sleeps little, works a lot and is very kind for letting me rope her into this dialogue. Because of her awesome curls, Bianca has also been featured on this blog before so you might recognize her.

Jeff a.k.a. Bubba

A native San Franciscan, Jeff grew up in a diverse circle of friends that still exists today. As a Criminal Defense Lawyer, he is an outspoken advocate on racial justice issues. For those of you who have been to my events, you have likely seen him there because he has a stellar track record and knows more about natural hair that you might ever expect. Jeff is constantly disappointed in my lack of engagement with hip hop and soul, his two musical passions, and we speak frequently about how we can bridge the gap of our mutual Racial Music Expectations. So far we have honed in on vintage Brazilian and his participation in this project.


Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 7.56.51 AM
Pal and I have been roommates for going on six (!) years now in San Francisco. Growing up half-Brazilian in the suburbs of Boston, Paloma was exposed to both an international network of family and a school demographic seriously lacking in ethnic and economic diversity. As a queer woman, Pal often talks about living within these two worlds and coming to a place of balance between them herself. As a school administrator, Pal is incredibly insightful about diversity within relationships and communities at all levels.


Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 8.08.15 AM
Phallon and I have been friends literally since the day I was born (she beat me by three days). We grew up together in a small suburb of Minneapolis, MN that the census lists as 94% white. Phallon brings not only this understanding about the ethnic make up in which we grew up, but also the need and ability to establish community of color. After an inspiring 90-minute conversation about this very topic just last night, I’m so excited to welcome her voice to this conversation!
So there you have it, friends: my friends. As I mentioned, you’ll be seeing a feature from each one of them in the coming weeks as we discuss and explore this conversation of interracial friendships and the roles they’ve played in our lives. Here we go!

My 4-Year Blogiversary: THE RETURN

Well hello there! As you may have noticed, I took a bit of a hiatus there from the blog front, and for those who are frequent readers, I apologize for the departure.

The truth is that I had become uninspired by the natural hair world. Sure, there was the constant release of new products and fun parties and mixers to attend, but after four years that whole scene had become stale, empty and in terms of seeking out compelling content, it lacked the true depth I had once found within it.

So I stopped writing.

However, Natural Selection has brought me immense joy and growth, so I knew that it would be back, but that I needed to take time to reflect on where it is I wanted to take this next part of my journey.


I woke up today and it dawned on me: I needed to take this blog back to it’s origins, to the ORIGINAL reasons I started writing in July of 2009. So I took a trip over to my ORIGINAL blog (there have been three over the years), to see if my very first blog post held any clues. Appropriately titled “New Beginnings: A [Moderately] Brief History of Why I’m Starting a Blog About My Hair“, this post holds it’s intrigue in the opening sentence and closing statement.

The opener:

“Since I can remember, my hair has been both my crowning glory and my greatest nemesis.”

A powerful statement, and one that rings true for many women of color, however after four years of being natural, I am proud to say that my hair is a nemesis no longer!

An excerpt from my closing paragraph:

“This blog is not going to just be about hairstyles and products. I’ve come to realize that the story of black hair is a story about cultural and personal identity, health and diet, schools and learning, world history and politics, art and expression, laughter and struggle, and family and friends.”

Four years later, I stand behind this statement still. The natural hair movement, with it’s parades of products and consumerism, has swallowed up the above the true story of black hair and I too have been swept up in it and have deviated from sharing and exploring it. However I truly believe that it’s important to keep these explorations at the forefront. It’s what positively unites us, rather than 3a/4c divides us.

I will admit that it’s funny that I spent so much time and effort worrying about where I should take the future of this blog, when all I had to do was return to the origin for the answer. A lesson for us all.

The toll it took on me.

If you know me, you know that I love to travel.  Flying to new places away from home and immersing myself in new cultures has been a wonderfully enriching experience, one that has given me perspective, growth and inspired not just creativity, but understanding, patience and flexibility as I engage with people across geographic boundaries.   For the last year, I found myself not home, but ELSEWHERE almost 2 weeks out of every month.  Looking back, that was a lot of time, but  I was blessed with the opportunity to return to Europe for the first time since studying abroad seven years ago, take my first trip to Africa, make extended stays at home in Minneapolis with my family.  I also sprinkled in visits to New Orleans(thrice), Chicago (twice), Los Angeles (thrice), Florida, New York (twice), Las Vegas, DC, the Virgin Islands and Honolulu in there as well.

However, after I returned home from Dakar last December, I was just tired.  Tired of security lines, red eyes, hotel rooms, delays, airport food and schlepping 75-pounds of luggage for two weeks at a time.  And more than tired, I felt unrooted, disconnected and out of balance.  Turns out when I made my home an airplane, my REAL home–the one in San Francisco where I sleep in my big pink bed, host my beloved dinner parties, eat with roommates and shoot the shit with neighbors on my stoop–had become as foreign as the places to which I was jetting.  Coming home to hibernate away from the world only to leave six days later is no way to maintain a home, friendships or personal sense of equilibrium.

I haven’t been on a plane since December 4th, 2012 and that’s the longest span of time I’ve been on the ground in the past two years!  Don’t get me wrong, I know that I am very fortunate to be able to travel so much.  But now that I’ve been home, I’ve realized the the toll it took on the things I truly value that make me a whole person. In a way, it became easier to be away than home; now that I’ve nestled back into my routines, committed to community (hell-O Team In Training!) and re-established focus on my work, I very much appreciate the stability that a non-flying routine affords.  In a word, I just feel mentally and spiritually healthier and it shows: my skin is clear and I’ve lost 20 pounds!  

Aside from a trip to Chicago in early March, I’m going to be keeping my wheels on the ground for the next few months and I’m looking forward to rebalancing, refocusing and recharging.  What it means in terms of NaturalSelectionBlog is that I HAVE A LOT OF EXCITING STUFF ON THE HORIZON!!!!  All of the travel time (read: no WiFi and just a journal) have left me with a lot of ideas that are starting to sprout and come to life!  So trust, you ain’t seen nothing yet.


Now that said, you can take the girl off the plane, but you can’t take the plane off the girl.  No really, you can’t because I’ve got one tattooed on my arm.


I definitely still have my eyes set on those distant far off horizons.  But for now, I’m going to zip my desires to experience the rhythms of Brasil, flavors of India and  vibrant metropolises of Morocco safely into my suitcase and pack them away until later.


My Path to Clarity, Commitment & Community: a Life Consultation with Cornelia Shipley (and WIN your very own!)

Have you ever questioned what you’re doing, where you’re going, how you’re getting there, who you’re getting there with?

Of course you have. I certainly have. I’m only human and so are you.

It’s the answers to these questions that inform and inspire our biggest life decisions. But what if it wasn’t a matter of waiting for an answer like most people do, but instead DESIGNING a response.

That’s the approach of Executive Coach and Life Strategist Cornelia Shipley who works with people from all walks of life to help them live their lives by their own design. From her experience in corporate America, Cornelia learned about the relationship between commitment and clarity. “When you can align commitment and clarity,” Cornelia explained, “it can be a transformative life experience. You can’t make a commitment to something you don’t have clarity about and there’s no sense in committing to a gray area. When you gain clarity, you can design your future outcomes and commit to your actions.”

This strategic approach to proactively creating a plan for life and work is the corner stone of Cornelia’s 9-month “By Design Club” and “Design Your Life” event coming up in Atlanta on March 21-23rd (see details below!).


I recently had the opportunity have  a one-on-one life and career consultation with Cornelia. Naturally, I was wondering how a phone call could help me dig more deeply into the existential quandaries that consistently plague my late 20’s. Before we even got on our call, Cornelia sent over a worksheet that asked me to reflect on the status quo of my relationships, work, personal growth, finances and fun/joy/recreation (an area in which I am admittedly doing VERY well) to give her a sense of my balance and priorities.

Now when one thinks “life coach”, you, like me, might imagine some sort of person who stands on the sidelines and tells you what to do, what plays to make and which proverbial player to tackle. Well, toss that image aside because that was not at all what happened during my session with Cornelia.

Instead of her swooping in and giving me her expert opinion, she asked a LOT of questions, did a lot of listening, and the most valuable part was that she did a fantastic job of paraphrasing of what I was saying myself. As she asked deep, probing questions, I found myself stumbling over answers in an attempt to verbalize what were half-formed thoughts in my mind. Cornelia then followed up by providing me with a succinct summary of what I was trying to say.  Although it was me talking, it  seemed like it was easier to hear her talk than listen to myself in a way because she was able to provide distance and perspective in a way I can’t on my own.


Cornelia’s approach taught me that deep down I already know many of the answers to the questions I have, but she helped me draw them out and see them more clearly. I ended my session with a wonderful new thinking strategy that will help me DESIGN my actions to achieve my desired outcome of building a community.

It felt really awesome to hang up the phone with clarity and an action plan I could commit to where there wasn’t one before!

Are you curious to try a Strategy Session on for size?

Well one lucky NaturalSelectionBlog reader will win a complimentary session of their own!  Here’s how you can enter to win:

1. Follow @naturalsblog and @CorneliaShipley on Twitter
2. Tweet the following: “I just entered the Design Your Life giveaway for a 30 min strategy session with @CorneliaShipley and @naturalsblog. #DYLevent #change”
3. Follow #DYLevent for updates and tips on Designing Your Life
Winners will be announced on Twitter 2/27 at 6 PM EST.

If you don’t want to wait to start designing your life, tomorrow, Thursday 2/21 Cornelia will be doing a Twitter chat at 7pm EST/4pm PST using the hashtag #DYLevent. Be sure to tweet your questions about how YOU can design your life in the areas of:

  • Work/Life Balance
  • Career advancement
  • Finances
  • Love
  • Brand management



Transitioning Again. And It Stinks. Kinda.

That whole “going natural” thing has taken extended its reach into many facets of my daily life. From the food I eat to the body wash I use, many things have gone the natural route when it comes to my body. However. here has been one area where I’ve been very much resisting going natural: MY ARMPITS. Specifically, the products I use to keep ’em smelling good.

For quite some time I have been reading about the negative health consequences antiperspirant can cause. While some studies have linked antiperspirant to cancer, Alzheimers, and kidney disease, there is no conclusive evidence that proves that antiperspirant is the root cause of these illnesses. Despite this knowledge of potential danger, I continued to slather on Degree in healthy quantities once a day.

But then I took a second to think about it:

When we pick up a stick of “Deodorant” from the store, what you’re really buying is not just something to make you stop smelling, but something to make you stop SWEATING altogether-an “antiperspirant”. The active ingredient in your run of the mill Secrets, Degrees and Old Spices is an aluminum compound that blocks your sweat glands. Sweating is your body’s way of releasing toxins, so in blocking that release you’re keeping all that bad stuff in. Cancer or not, when you break it down, it doesn’t sound good to keep all that gunk and trapped in your body, does it?


So about a month ago, I decided to tuck my stick of Degree away (and I freaking LOVE my stick of Degree so this was a very hard separation) and see what it was like to go natural.

Well, frankly, it kinda stinks. You know, stinky in the way that I don’t lift my arm and smell like a bouquet of flora and fauna dusted with baby powder anymore. I just smell like…me.

Turns out, that that stuff really DOES do it’s job in making sure your body odors are kept to a minimum. The first few days, I was pretty alarmed by what I was smelling…but after asking around and submitting some very very close friends to my aromas, I was assured that it was not only “not that bad”, but also normal. And it must be noted that although my mother has yet to experience a D.O.-free Cass, she thinks this is one of the worst ideas I’ve ever had.

Every few days, however, I would break out that trusty Degree and get my Shower Clean fix, but over time I’ve been relying on it less and less.

Now that I’ve decided to move away from products that inhibit the natural process of sweating, I’m back to focusing on and finding products that are actual DEODORANTS…the things that keep you smelling good.
While in Africa, I picked up an all-natural deodorant made of desert flowers and moringa oils. Although I may have to reapply it 4 times a day, it does keep the smell down.

I’m pretty sure that this is a lifestyle change that is going to stick so I’m working on finding the best of the best natural deodorants to use. I’ve been doing some research on different brands but want to put them from the ringer in the testing department. If you have any suggestions of your favorite brands or brands that you’d like to see tested, please list ’em in the comments and I’ll be posting reviews as I get through them!

Why I Hate[d] Running. (Repost from Carol’s Daughter)

I’m a frequent contributor over on Carol’s Daughter Transitioning Movement where I write about a wide variety of things ranging from hair care to fitness.  As you know, I’ve just started training for my first triathlon and my latest post over there is what really pushed me over the edge and inspired me to sign up so I thought I’d share with you.  It’s the story about how I got over my hate/fear of running and did the damm thang!  


The Story of a Reluctant Runner

Cassidy-Post-RunBefore the holidays, I achieved what I consider to be one of the greatest goals of my life: running a 6:38 mile.
If you had told me a year ago that I would be able to rapidly place one foot in front of the other for 5,280 consecutive feet in under seven minutes, I would have looked at you straight in the eye and laughed.  Really hard.  Like, really hard.

You see, it’s not that I disliked running, it’s more that I just hated it.  Always had.  From my days in lower school when we used to have to run The Mile (I walked) to upper school when I decided to join the track team (as a discus thrower) I developed a knack for avoiding all things running.  I carried this aversion through to adulthood and joined dance classes, pursed cycling, and took up pilates.

I was very successful in this endeavor until a persuasive friend of mine (we’ll call him Stephen, because his name is Stephen) applied a bit of pressure.   As an avid runner, Stephen sat me down and told me all of the benefits of running and I retorted with all of the expertly crafted excuses I had come up with throughout the years.

Me: I’ve got a bad knee.
Stephen: It will probably strengthen your knee.

Me:  I don’t enjoy it.
Stephen: You’ll learn to.  It comes with time.

Me: I belong to a gym instead.
Stephen: Running doesn’t cost $80 a month.

I had to admit, he had me on that “running is free” bit.  So the next week laced up my tennis shoes and took myself out for a spin.  I found myself settling into a pace where I alternated running and walking while fighting an internal battle as my mind reeled between “this sucks!” and “keep going!”  Finally I made it a mile and found myself feeling….great! Sure it was hard and it took me over 15 minutes, but my body felt good and strong.

That day I made two important realizations:

  1. Other than the fact that it’s difficult to get started doing, I really have no reason to dislike running.
  2. If channel all of the energy that I spent avoiding running into actually getting better at it, then I can probably find joy in the activity.

Since then, I have consistently run 2-4 times a week and it has become a steady part of my workout regimen.  I just a few months have whittled down my run-walk mile time from 12:00 to a run-only mile time in just under 7:00.  When I see my pace and time, I can barely believe that it’s my own!  Aside from saving me those $80 each month at the gym, running has provided me with good cardiovascular health, a perky derriere, and, most importantly, the resolve that I can truly take on anything I set my mind to; in 2013 maybe, just maybe, that means a triathlon!

Here are a few of my tips to start—and keep!—you running this year:

  1. Start slowly: if you’re just beginning to run, set realistic expectations for yourself in terms of distance and time.  You might not make it a whole mile right away- and that’s okay!  Start like I did and run for two minutes, walk for a minute until you reach your desired distance.  Eventually those walking intervals will become fewer and farther between until they’re non-existent!
  2. Find a beat: running to music allows me gets me amped and I find myself jogging to the beat.  Make yourself a special running playlist of upbeat tunes and find your own rhythm.
  3. Get an app: I really like Map My Run, which tracks your distance and pace.  With the coaching featured enabled, it also chimes in to let you know your time as you’re running.  It’s also nice to have a log of your progress.
  4. Keep doing it: even if it’s hard.  Even if you hate it.  Even if you just want to sit down and quit- KEEP GOING.  Pushing yourself will keep you on track and encourage you to get better.
  5. Stretch: running is super high impact so after every session make sure you take the time to stretch it out and keep your muscles limber and loose.  Trust me, your body will thank me in the morning.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...