Time to Be Seen and Heard with Logan Russell

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“From a young age I struggled with body image. I was larger than a lot of my friends, and built differently, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but when the media is telling you something different, and telling you who you are, and what your worth means, and how your weight relates to that, that’s hard to get past. Part of finding myself was learning to love my body and love who I am as a person.”

Logan Russell started her blog to “inspire women to discover their personal style as a means of building self-confidence.” We sat down with Logan to discuss how she’s challenging the status quo.

HOKA: Tell us about yourself. 

Logan: My name is Logan Russell, I’m a body positive fashion blogger with a passion for fitness. My goal is to inspire women to embrace their bodies and celebrate themselves no matter their size, weight or what season of life they’re in. A big part of that is incorporating movement into our days as a form of self-care and cultivating confidence.

HOKA: What does running mean to you and what role does it play in your life?

Logan: Running started as a necessity in sports growing up, but as I got older it became my “me time.” Each run is an opportunity to challenge my body, celebrate my strengths, and work through any mental roadblocks. It’s an incredible release! I love how running serves my mental and physical health at the same time. When I’m really stressed or emotional, I know that I can lace up my shoes and work through it in a constructive way through movement. I always come out of a run a different person than when I entered it. That transformative power is pretty amazing!

HOKA: What does ‘Time to challenge the Status Quo’ mean to you? 

Logan: When it comes to my journey with fitness, especially running, ‘time to Challenge the Status Quo’ pretty much sums everything up. Because of my size, I never fit the beauty standard that society and media has impressed upon us. I was especially challenged on my abilities in athletics. How could I possibly be strong enough for this workout or have the endurance for this run at my weight? How could I think of myself as an athlete, when I don’t look like an athlete “should.” Despite the walls I knew would be in front of me and despite the doubts of others, I showed up. I continue to show up on the road, the mat, and at the gym to create space for myself and others who don’t fit the status quo.
‘Challenging the Status Quo’ is choosing to honor who you are and what serves you, to celebrate yourself and your body, no matter what challenges or intolerance you may face. It’s not letting others define who you are. It’s recognizing your worth goes far beyond size, weight and appearance. You are worthy of every joy in life, just as you are.

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HOKA: What is your advice to anyone who might be facing adversity and wanting to challenge the status quo?

Logan: Facing any challenge, big or small, is never easy. There will be times when you’ll doubt yourself, when you might start to believe they’re right, and when you’re so exhausted or frustrated you’ll want to throw in the towel. Don’t give up. Know that every single time you show up and choose YOU, it’s a win. The journey will be messy and full of ups and downs, but the joy you find on the other end makes it worth every bit of blood, sweat and tears. You are worth the fight!

HOKA: Anything else you’d like to share?

Logan: It’s important that we continue to push for diversity in fitness and normalize the representation of women of all sizes. HOKA is doing an incredible job creating an inclusive community of athletes. I’m so grateful to be part of it! But while the industry has certainly made progress in the last year or so when it comes to size inclusivity, we still have a lot of work to do. This means more people need to stand up and share their story. If space isn’t being created for us, then we need to create it ourselves. That’s how we progress! I hope that my story can help inspire others to challenge the status quo and be part of the change.

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To learn more about Logan Russell, watch the video below:

Time to Be Awesome with Sam Holness

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 “I want to show that people with autism can participate in sport. In fact, autism is a strength and athletes from any background can be great triathletes. All you need to do is get out there and get active. Don’t let your disability be a reason for not doing sport.”

Sam (Super Sam) Holness is a triathlete that happens to have autism, and he’s going to be awesome. The 27-year old athlete trains like any other elite competitor, swimming, running and cycling roughly 12-16 hours per week. His focus and never-give-up attitude are key characteristics that set him apart as a competitor.

We sat down with Sam to learn more about his goals and how he is challenging the status quo.

HOKA: What do you enjoy about triathlon?

Sam: The night before a race is so exciting. I try to sleep but it’s almost impossible. I just can’t wait to get going. Before a triathlon I always take time to look at the swim course and think about my transition from swim to cycle and cycle to run, and of course nutrition. I am nervous until I hear the starter gun go off and then all is well.

HOKA: Can you shed some light on competing in triathlon with autism?

Sam: I didn’t start cycling until I was about 12 or 13 years old, and some days I cycle for 45 minutes on my indoor trainer. I work hard to be the best that I can be. I believe that my autism is the reason that I can concentrate for so long: it’s my superpower. It’s fun challenging the status quo, by doing all of the things I am not supposed to be able to do.

HOKA: Tell us more about your superpower.

Sam: Because of my autism I have communication challenges. Sometimes words get stuck and don’t come out when I want to speak and express myself. But when I swim, run, and cycle, I feel more confident and in a world of my own. Completing every race and getting a PB [Personal Best] also helps with my self-esteem.

HOKA: What does ‘Challenging the Status Quo’ mean to you?

Sam: Challenging the Status Quo means getting the rules changed to ensure that athletes with high-functioning autism, like me, are no longer excluded from the Paralympics and the Special Olympics. It means becoming the first black athlete with autism to complete Kona [IRONMAN® World Championship] and win a place in the ITU World Championships. I work hard because I want to make a difference.

HOKA: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Sam: I want to motivate others that have disabilities to take up sports, especially those with invisible disabilities like autism. Sometimes when I compete, I am the only black triathlete. Maybe the only one with autism. But it doesn’t matter: I just do the best that I can and never give up. It’s time to be awesome.

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Learn more about Sam Holness below:

Time to See it Our Way with RunGirl

Founded in 2010, RunGirl is a non-profit based in Tokyo City, Japan, consisting of a group of women from different backgrounds who all like to run. Created when its organizers realized there were no female-centric running events in the region, the group has grown to include multiple volunteer- and running-related events. Above all, their aim remains to empower women through running. The group consists of a group of driven women who, regardless of background, all like to run. We sat down with some members of RunGirl to learn more about how they’re challenging the status quo.

RunGirl-1HOKA: Tell us your names and where you’re from.
宇田川佳子(Yoshiko Udagawa, Tokyo)
柴田玲(Rei Shibata, Tokyo)
大原里絵(Rie Ohara, Chiba)

HOKA: Can you tell us about the “status quo” that you’re challenging?
ランナーだからこそできる、新しいムーブメントを常に起こし続けること。
ランニングの既存のイメージにとらわれず、行動や願望に限界を設けないこと。
“We want to keep shaping a new movement focused on runners. That movement isn’t shaped by the existing image of runners — the status quo of what a runner should look like or train for –and that doesn’t limit individual behaviors and dreams.”

HOKA: What was the reason for founding the women’s-only run group?
団体を立ち上げようと思ったのではなく、自分たちが理想とするランニング大会を作ろうと思ったのがきっかけ。
RunGirl★Nightを立ち上げた2010年当時、女性にとって居心地が良く楽しめるようなマラソン大会が無いと感じ、
無いならば自分たちで作ろう、と。この想いに賛同したメンバー(仕事で繋がりがあり、ランニングを趣味としていた友人知人)が集まって、ランガールが結成された。
“RunGirl wasn’t born because we wanted to create an organization, but because we wanted to create a running competition that was fitting us. When we founded RunGirlNight in 2010, it was because we felt like there wasn’t any kind of female-oriented event and competition, so we just thought to make it by ourselves. Members who agreed with this idea (mainly friends and acquaintances from work who were interested in running) gathered, and RunGirl was born.”

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HOKA: Was it a run group you founded first or an event?
イベントを作るために集まったが、企業や自治体から協賛・後援などの協力を得るためには法人の形を取る必要があったため、イベントを作る過程の中で法人化(一般社団法人)した。
このような理由がきっかけであったものの、様々な職業のプロである女性ランナー集団というユニークな性格の団体として、イベント作りだけでなく、他にも新しいムーブメントを起こせる可能性があると感じ、「走る女性のパワーで毎日を豊かに」をテーマに活動していくことにした。
“We gathered to create a women’s-centered event from scratch, but in order to do this and get support from the government and other companies we had to officialize the group in a corporation; so, we became a non-profit organization. But I soon felt that planning an event was not the only reason for us to be together.
A group of women with such unique personalities and experience in different working fields had all the assets to create a new movement in Japan. We decided to continue our activity by following our theme “‘enriching everyday life with the power of women running.'”

HOKA: How has that mission grown?
2010年当時はTwitterが流行り始めた時期だったので、有志の女性ランナーが集まりゼロからマラソン大会を作る過程をすべてTwitterで実況中継していくうちに、メッセージが届くようになり、協賛者、協力者、参加者、ボランティアが集まり、多くの取材も入った。また、背景には日本での女性のランニングブームの盛り上がりもあった。
そのおかげで、結成から約7ヶ月後に1回目のRunGirl★Nightを開催することができた。1回目が成功した後は、さらに認知度が高まっていった。
“Twitter was becoming really popular in 2010 and our volunteer members were posting there. Then we started getting messages, sponsorships, and more volunteers and participants. In that period there was also a general excitement of the women’s running boom in Japan.
Thanks to all these factors we could finally hold our first RunGirlNight about seven months after our formation. After that, people started to recognize us even more.”

HOKA: What’s your proudest result of having started the organization?
一つ一つのイベントを妥協することなく、9年間毎年進化させながら継続させてきたこと。
特にRunGirl★Nightに関しては、いまだにこれほど個性的なランニング大会は他にはないと思えること。
メンバーが30代前後の女性が中心だったため、結婚や出産、転職や独立など多くのライフイベントがあり、メンバーの入れ替わりもあったが、「走る女性のパワーで毎日を豊かに」という結成当初の思いを忘れずに続けてくることができたこと。
“We kept on holding our events without interruption for nine years.
Our RunGirlNight in particular was a competition like no other.
Many of our members were in their 30s so people were coming and going because of marriages, having children, etc., but we always managed to keep on moving forward without forgetting our original mission.”

HOKA: What is the “mission” of Run Girl?
「走る女性のパワーで毎日を豊かに」
走る女性のパワーを社会に還元していくこと。社会により良い変化を起こすこと。
“‘Enriching everyday life with the power of women running.’ We want to empower women to run in this society, and to change this society for the better.”

HOKA: You’ve shifted your focus from a run event to a partnership with Tokyo City. Can you tell us more about that partnership?
東京オリンピックのためにコースが使えなくなるのが大きな理由です。しかし、これをプラスに捉え、大会を開催する以外にも、ランナーとしてできることはあるのではないかと考え、「CLEAN」と「SAFETY」という活動を発信することに決めました。
「CLEAN」は、走りながら街のゴミ拾いをする(plogging)活動
「SAFETY」は、走りながら街の見守りをする(防犯)活動
これらの活動は東京をより良くしていくことにもつながり、東京オリンピックを盛り上げることにもつながるのではと考えています。
(9年前のランガール立ち上げ時にみんなで掲げた未来図の中に、「ランナーのいる街は安全できれい」というキーワードがすでにあり、活動を積み重ねてきた結果、具体的に実現させることができました)
“There are other things that can be done as a runner apart from holding a race — this is why we decided to start two activities called ‘Clean’ and ‘Safety.”Clean’ entails picking up litter while running (aka “plogging”). ‘Safety’ involves protecting the city while running and using our presence on the run for crime prevention. The latter was done in consultation with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. We believe these two projects will make Tokyo a better place and increase the excitement for this summer.
Nine years ago, one of our key concepts was “a runner’s city is clean and safe” — we feel now that we are finally making this idea a concrete reality.”

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HOKA: What’s your main message to fellow Japanese (or global) women?
走ることの素晴らしさ。ランガールのメンバーは全員が、走ることで人生が変わった女性たちです。
走ることは勝敗ではなく、自分の心身と向き合う時間、人とのつながり、新しい景色との出会い、目標に向かって頑張る力を引き出してくれるなど、いろいろなものをくれる、ということ。
今、日本ではランナー人口は高齢化が進んでいて、若い世代のランナーは少ないと言われていますが、若い世代にもランニングの楽しさ、素晴らしさをもっと体感してもらい、日本女性のランニング人口を増やしたい。
“The beauty of running. All RunGirl’s members are women whose life has been changed by running.”

“Running is not a victory or a defeat, it’s something that gives you time to confront your mind and body, connect with people, encounter new sceneries, and draw out of you the power to pursue your goals.
In Japan, most people running are elderly, but we want to show the young the beauty of this sport and increase women runners throughout the country.”

“Running is a lifelong sport and I want to share its joy forever, and thanks to RunGirl we are doing this.”

HOKA: What would you say to a young girl to help them feel empowered?
RunGirl★Nightを立ち上げる過程で学んできた「前例がないことに挑戦する勇気」や、ランナーとして蓄積してきた様々な知恵を伝えていきたい。
RunGirl★Nightを作り上げる過程で感じたこと→前例のないことを実現できたのは、メンバーそれぞれが積み上げてきた経験(年齢)があったからこそ。
ランニングを通じて感じたこと→年齢を重ねてもまだまだ可能性を広げられる(より速いタイムやより長い距離への挑戦)
“I would like to share what I have learned while launching RunGirlNight: the courage to challenge things or situations and do things that have never been done.
In the process of creating this event, I felt I’ve realized something that was never achieved before, and this was thanks to the experiences that each member had realized individually.
What I have personally learned from running, instead, is that I can keep on expanding my possibilities even after I get older by running faster and for longer distances.”

HOKA: Is night watch and neighborhood running still a big part of what you do?
東京では夜でも安全なランニングコースが多いのと、夏場は早朝でも暑いので、夜のランニングは一般的です。
RunGirl★Nightを「Night」として夕方のスタートにしたのは、まだ暑い9月に、日焼けなどを気にせず走れるようにという女性への配慮もあります。また、走り終わった後に気持ちよく野外で過ごしてもらいたいという想いから、夏の夕方から夜にかけてのイベントにしました。
“Well, night running is very common in Tokyo because routes are safer and during summer mornings it’s too hot to run. Indeed, one of the reasons why RunGirlNight was set up in the evening was also because it was a hot September.”

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HOKA: Are there other groups that are part of RunGirl outside of Tokyo?
ランガールは首都圏に住むメンバーによる東京拠点の1グループですが、これまでに大阪や名古屋でランニング大会やイベントをプロデュースしたり、おきなわマラソンをより女性に優しい大会にするためのアドバイスをするなど、日本各地での活動経験もあります。今年はさいたま国際マラソンで、女子ビギナーの部のサポートをしています。
“RunGirl’s members all live in the Tokyo area, but we hold marathons in Nagoya and Osaka and helped in making Okinawa’s Marathon more female-friendly. We really work in different areas; this year, for example, we will support the Women’s Beginners Club at Saitama International Marathon.”

HOKA: What have you discovered to be the best part of running as a group?
ランガールのメンバーはいつもグループで走っているわけではありませんが、例えばplogging(ゴミ拾いラン)などは、1人では挑戦しにくくても、グループでならゲーム感覚で楽しめるなど、メリットも多いです。
“RunGirl members do not always run together but activities like ‘plogging’ have the merit to make something that doing alone would be difficult.”

HOKA: What does running give to you? What sensations do you experience when running?
ここは3人それぞれ
宇田川― 心身ともに健康になり、自己肯定感と達成感が得られること。
普段子育てと仕事に追われ、常に2つ以上のことを同時進行している生活なので、走っているときだけは、ひとつのことだけに集中でき、感性が研ぎ澄まされる感覚。
柴田– 直接的には、爽快感。疲れるというよりはパワーチャージとか目覚めるような感覚。
間接的には、人生にアクセントを与えてくれる。達成感。人とのコミュニケーション。
大原― 得られるものは、健康!!美肌!!達成感!!
走っているときは、1人の貴重な時間で自分自身と向き合える。
“Being healthy both mentally and physically, and to have a sense of strong affirmation and achievement. You work and raise a child, it’s a busy life, always doing two things at the same time: when you run, you can finally focus on just one thing and your sensibility gets sharpened.”

“In a literal sense, it’s refreshing. I feel like I am waking up instead of getting tired. In a more implicit sense, it gives life a certain accent. A sense of accomplishment. Connection with people.”

“Also, it makes you healthy and sense of self-accomplishment. When you run you can finally face yourself – it’s a precious personal time.”

HOKA: Is society’s perspective on women in sports like running all wrong? How so?
ランニングの世界に限って言えば、圧倒的に男性ランナーが多く、マラソン大会主催者も男性が多いので、女性への配慮や環境整備が足りていなかったように感じたので、RunGirlを立ち上げましたが、この10年で女性ランナーを取り巻く環境は大きく改善されたように思います。
ランニングは、老若男女、トップランナーも市民ランナーも同じ場所で楽しめるのが魅力。ただ、体を使うスポーツの世界では、どうしても男女による違いが出て来るし、その違いを受け入れることが正しい理解につながると思います。
そういう意味では、女性ランナーのための環境作りの必要性を感じているし、それをできるのは女性だからこそかなと思っています。
“As far as it concerns running, there are so many male runners and event organizers, it’s overwhelming. Though I think that overall the environment surrounding female runners has greatly improved over the last ten years.
It’s nice seeing that you can enjoy running in the same places with women and men of all ages, professionals or just regular citizens. However, you use your body while running and there are inevitable differences between women and men — accepting these differences will lead to a correct understanding of them.
This is why I think we need to create an environment made for specifically female runners.”

Learn more about RunGirl and how they’re challenging the status quo below:

   

Time to Break Free with Samantha Chan

“I started running when I was 12. The coach kept asking me to come back, but my grandmother and my mother kept asking me not to go, because it’s not the girls’ thing – you just stay home and do housework. I thought ‘no, someone appreciates my ability, why don’t you let me go?’ I think that it’s my own decision that I need to keep going and need to run. “

We sat down with Samantha Chan, a trail runner from Hong Kong, to discuss her upbringing, overcoming adversity, and breaking free from the status quo.

HOKA: Tell us about yourself.

Samantha: I am Samantha Chan from Hong Kong, and I am a trail runner. I grew up in a housing estate, like most of the kids in Hong Kong. Running came into my life when I was 13 years old; it brought me unlimited space and freedom in such a crowded environment. I was in love with it since I started.

HOKA: What does running mean to you and what role does it play in your life?

Samantha: At first, I found running very hard, but later on I was in love with running as it brought changes to my life. When I was young, I always thought that I was so ordinary and wouldn’t have any achievements. Running built up my confidence. If I trained hard, I would probably have good results. This taught me about trying hard and working hard to achieve objectives in my life.

HOKA: Has your relationship with running changed throughout your life? If so, how has it changed or evolved?

Samantha: In the earlier stage, I found confidence and learned how to work hard by running. As I became older, running helped me to relieve stress in life. Especially trail running: I love nature, and I always come home with a smile after training the whole day on the trails. I feel so relaxed and satisfied. I also travel to different countries for races; it feels like connecting with different places by my feet, and that’s a wonderful experience.

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HOKA: What does ‘Time to Fly’ mean to you?

Samantha: ‘Time to Fly’ means trying harder than I’ve tried in my life to achieve a goal, and in the process, I make changes to attitude and actions. If I don’t change anything, I probably wouldn’t achieve bigger goals.

HOKA: What is your advice to anyone who might be facing adversity and wanting to challenge the status quo?

If you are facing adversity, ask yourself why you had the incentive to do something. Is it right? If so, then be confident and be brave, be stubborn and take the first step. You will receive a lot of help and encouragement when you pursue something right.

HOKA: Anything else you’d like to share?

Samantha: In my opinion, I’m the one who decides what I can and cannot. No one can tell me what I cannot do.
I wouldn’t let the word talent limit myself. Working hard is so important in life, and it might exceed what talent defines for you.

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Learn more about Samantha Chan below:

   

Time to Challenge the Status Quo with Joe Gray

“I know I can be an inspiring example by working hard and winning races, but giving back to the community and the sport that has given me so much is just as important. I want other young black and minority runners to have some of the same life-changing opportunities and experiences I have enjoyed.” — HOKA Athlete Joe Gray

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Joe Gray has been on the pro trail running circuit for a while now, winning 17 U.S. national championships, representing the U.S. in international races 28 times, and winning the 2016 and 2019 World Mountain Running Championships in Bulgaria and Argentina, respectively. We sat down with him to learn more about his views on running, adversity, and challenging the status quo.

HOKA: Despite your success, you still manage to fly under the radar. Tell us about yourself.
Joe: I am a Black American distance runner dedicated to being competitive across a wide variety of distance running disciplines, including trail, mountain, track, road, cross country, ultra-distance and snowshoe racing.

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HOKA: What does running mean to you, and what role does it play in your life?
Joe: Running is all about the idea of challenging yourself and making sacrifices to meet goals. The role running plays in my life is multi-faceted: being that I love to wander and explore, running fulfills my innate desire to explore new places and find the ends of trails around the world. Running also provides me a way to seek challenges and goals which I firmly believe drive individuals and teams to be better people overall.

HOKA: How has your relationship with running changed throughout your life?
Joe: My relationship with running has changed and adapted many times throughout my journey. Initially, running was simply a sport to me: a type of competition. Now it’s a way of life, a way for me to connect to my community, and also a way for me to learn new things about different parts of the world.

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HOKA: What does “Time to Challenge the Status Quo” mean to you?
Joe: “Time to Challenge the Status Quo” means that society is at a very important period of time from which we can make a major impact on the next generation. Challenging the status quo is all about progressing and learning to adapt to a changing world. Those resistant to change typically are the ones causing the problems in society and creating negative ideology towards specific individuals and/or groups. This, of course, is not a great example to set for the next generation of human beings, so change is necessary to create the best society we can.

HOKA: What is your advice to anyone who might be facing adversity right now?
Joe: Realize you are not alone and that you must be brave even in the face of negativity. You could save someone’s life with your bravery to stand up against opposition, and you could make the world a better place for millions.

HOKA: How can people support you in your mission to create equity in the sport of trail running?
Joe: Be kind to one another, be inviting to those who look different and be willing to engulf yourself in new cultures.

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Follow Joe on Instagram and learn more in HOKA ONE ONE: Time to Challenge the Status Quo: