The Running Industry Diversity Coalition Is Making Strides Towards Equality

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Running is a great equalizer. We all have different strides, but the run is a journey we all can start. However, there are still communities that are underrepresented by the running industry. Working to change this is the Running Industry Diversity Coalition (RIDC), a team of Black, Indigenous, and people of color from running brands, retailers, and runner communities across the U.S. The coalition’s goal is to make sure people of color are represented in ownership and leadership positions; there’s accountability; opportunities for conversation; education through diversity, equity, inclusion, naming systems of racism, and anti-racist training. 

To this end, they’re hosting a series of virtual conversations, training, and education sessions. The first conversation on race and running will take place Wednesday, Oct. 28th, from 4-5 p.m. EDT. Panelists will delve into practical ways to have uncomfortable conversations about race and move towards action. 

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Verna Volker, from the Navajo Nation is a founding member of RIDC. In July she commented on RIDC advisor and Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge co-founder, Teresa Baker’s Diversity Pledge statement on Instagram. “I would love to do this with the running industry,” Volker said. Volker’s involvement with RIDC bolsters her work to amplify Indigenous runners. “Native people in the United States are less than 2% of the population, so when you look at the running industry, the percentage is really small. That’s why I push for more representation,” said Volker, who is the founder of Native Women Running (NWR), an Instagram (@native_women_running) account with 14k mighty followers highlighting the achievements of Indigenous women runners from around the world.

“I always tell the women, this is your land run on it,” Volker said when discussing the brand ethos.“Being an Indigenous woman, we talk about our Indigenous people and how we are resilient. I always knew this, but I don’t think I tapped into that until I ran an ultramarathon,” she continues. With 20 races and two ultramarathons under her belt, the mission of her miles does not end here.

When she is not running, she’s training the minds of second graders in Minneapolis, where she lives with her husband and four children. HOKA ONE ONE spoke to Volker about the journey of running, empowering Indigenous runners through NWR, and what pushing for a more inclusive running industry looks like.

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HOKA ONE ONE: When did you first tap into your athleticism and start running?  

Verna Volker: I’ve always been an athlete. In highschool I played basketball and volleyball. I remember hating the running part like sprints when the coach would say run like 20 laps around the court.. After that I started running on and off in my life, but it was never anything that I felt passionate about. In 2007, I ran this little race when we lived in a small town in Nebraska. It was like 2.1 miles. I remember sharing this photo on Instagram where I looked like I was in so much pain. I remember it being really hard.

A year later we moved to Minneapolis. I remember that being probably the heaviest I’ve ever been. I was around 200 pounds. I knew that I needed to work on losing weight and I think it was just a lot of stress. I had a new baby, a preschooler, and a new job. In Minneapolis, we have such great parks and lakes where you can run around. I started running just to get out of the house. In August of 2009, I thought well let me run my first half marathon.

I had no idea about running, personal records, training plans, ect. I’m over here like, well let me just run this race. I remember I was so heavy at the time, but I completed the race. I thought it was like the best thing ever. I was so happy. That’s when I think I got hooked.

HOKA: When you first started running were you part of a run crew? 

Volker: I was very intimidated. Here in the Twin Cities area, there are a lot of running groups, but there was this intimidation of “oh I can’t compete” or “oh I’m not fast enough.” There was a fear that I wouldn’t fit in. So I’ve spent a lot of time alone on the trails. 

HOKA: How did Native Women Running grow into what it is today? 

Volker: I noticed people were sharing their running on Instagram like, “Hey I ran 5.5 miles today” and they would post running selfies. So I started doing that and started growing a following. I noticed that even when I started running I would go to bookstores and look at running magazines, they always had that same type of runner, fit, blond, and young. That to me was not realistic. 

Where are people who look like me? Or haven’t been running that long? I started Native Women Running to bring visibility and representation to Native women runners from around the world. NWR also raises awareness around missing and murdered indigenous women, an issue that impacts Native women 10 times more than the national adversage, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. I think as Indigenous women, we can feel like we have a lot against us, but I believe running has become a way for us to heal.

I also started it because in the running world, in the running industry highlighting Native runners was very far and few between. In Native culture, there are a lot of Natives who started running very young. Running is a part of our culture.

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HOKA: Can you explain why running is such an integral part of Native culture? 

Volker: In Navajo culture, there is the belief that you wake up early and you run to the east to greet the creator, to say your prayers, and connect to nature. I never realized what it meant until I found running. It sort of makes sense why I really enjoy morning runs. I’ve always been an early morning runner, like 5 a.m. It helps you start your day, which makes sense. 

I know a Navajo brother that ran in his moccasins in the Boston Marathon, that’s pretty amazing. He is just a reminder of how immersive the culture is to running.

HOKA: What do you think the steps are to creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive running industry? 

Volker: I think the first step is understanding where we come from, our history apart from stereotypes, inviting us to be a part of boards, and the hiring process at companies.  It means a lot to me when organizations invite me  to share my perspective to learn about Native culture. I think this is certainly a start. 

RIDC will kick off the first in a series of virtual conversations on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the running industry on Wednesday, Oct. 28th from 4-5pm EDT. Registration Link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-talk-about-talking-about-race-tickets-124687366269 

Written by Priscilla Ward

Running to Get Your Mind Right with Sophia Short

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I’m Sophia Short – I work as a social media strategist during the day and write and teach yoga on the side.

I started running at a pretty early age – I’m about a year younger than my older brother and he took an interest in running in elementary school so of course I followed suit. Throughout high school, I ran on my school’s cross-country team (hey, it was a sport you didn’t have to try out for!) and completed a marathon my senior year of high school. When my freshman year of college hit, I had a pretty big swing of depression and as a result took a break from running for over a year (more on mental health later!). I started running consistently again when I began working full time and didn’t want to take the subway home every day from work in New York. From there, I moved to LA and the weather is pretty great to get out for runs in the mornings, so running is once again a piece of my life.

SSUphill1000I run about three mornings a week around my neighborhood in Los Angeles (it’s horrifying I do claim to be a morning person) and take walks after work a couple of nights too in my HOKAs. I like running in particular because it can slow down my mind especially when life is busy. With so much going on just in a regular day, all of your thoughts – especially creative ones – can feel like they’re orbiting around in random directions in your brain. Going on a run forces my thoughts to line up, so they enter my mind one at a time. I also enjoy running because I can’t really look at my phone (I’ve face planted a couple of times as result from trying) and that’s pretty rare for me working and side hustling in social media.

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Besides helping sort through creative ideas and settle my mind, a run does a lot to boost my mental health. As someone who has a history of anxiety and depression, having a toolkit of things that help me feel my best is important to me. Exercise is a big tool for me, and having movement be part of my morning routine helps start the day on a clearer note. If I’m feeling anxious, a repetitive activity like walking or running can help settle my mind, but if I’m feeling down, something more high intensity can help give me a jolt. I love my Clifton for runs and the Bondi for walking or a HIIT workout. I do want to note that exercise is a tool, and won’t fix everything, but it has helped for me.

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Running sometimes gets the label of not being fun. Since I’m usually not running for time, something that I’ve started doing is taking photos on my run of things I find interesting. Sometimes this is the sunrise and other times it’s something quirky like a hand painted Stranger Things trashcan in the neighborhood. I think running (or walking) can give you a greater appreciation for where you live.

Sophia is featured wearing the Clifton 7.

New Approaches to City & Road Running Etiquette

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There’s a lot we’re all figuring out together.

With COVID-19 policies varying from week to week and place to place, it can be hard to keep track of all the little behavioral adjustments we’re expected to make.

For active city-dwellers and road-runners, the unwritten rules of running etiquette are changing too.

At HOKA, we can’t make exact recommendations for several reasons. We’re not virologists, for one. And guidelines are likely to change.

But we do know running, and we understand that etiquette isn’t an exact science.

So there are few common-sense boundaries to keep in mind as we navigate the “new normal” of running.
Be a Model Runner

Good running etiquette has always been important. But it’s especially important now.

That’s because each runner can represent every runner in the eyes of the general public.

Amid all of the lifestyle changes we’ve been through lately, it would not be utterly shocking to see changes in policy regarding the public spaces we use for running. Imagine if your favorite route became “walking only,” for example. While that might not be likely, but it is at least within the realm of possibility.

So on behalf of runners everywhere, please remember that your commitment to etiquette is appreciated. Not just by the general public, but by everybody else in the runner community who loves to hit the road as much as you do.

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How to Run With a Mask

As we mentioned, we’re not virologists, but we do know a couple of basic facts about running and the novel coronavirus. For one, we know that running causes heavy breathing. And two, we know that COVID-19 is a respiratory disease.

With this in mind, it’s easy to see why the average pedestrian might prefer for runners to wear masks.

But running with a mask can be uncomfortable, not to mention sweaty, and running with a mask can slow your pace, reduce your distance, and wear you out sooner – all of which make running both less fun and less effective.

Etiquette suggests that a compromise between always and never wearing a mask would make everybody comfortable.

We suggest the following techniques for running with a mask:

  1. Consult updated guidelines on proper mask use, the effectiveness of different mask types, and distancing.
  2. Always at least bring a mask on your run.
  3. Avoid crossing paths or overtaking other runners or pedestrians within 6-10 feet.
  4. Similar to how you’d turn off your high-beam headlights while driving on a country road, consider masking up (or – safely – crossing the street) before crossing paths with or overtaking anybody.

If the above seems like a long list of concessions, remember that the other people you encounter on your runs won’t know your health status, and you won’t know theirs.

Think of your mask as a symbol of empathy. It’ll make the face sweat easier to live with.

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Social Distancing on the Road & Sidewalk

In the city, crowds can be difficult to avoid. Even in outdoor spaces and parks.

Plan accordingly.

You might need to adjust your schedule or your route. Try running during off-peak hours, and stay away from areas where it’s impossible to sidestep other people (a six-foot radius is standard for adequate sidestepping) during the course of your run.

You might need to think outside the box a little and make some sacrifices. For example, instead of your favorite high-traffic park path, consider a detour to run laps around a comparatively deserted athletic field.

If possible, take a wide berth (at least six feet) around anybody you come across. If that’s not possible, consider altering your route to prioritize wider sidewalks, easier rerouting and fewer blind turns around obstructed corners.

If you absolutely can’t avoid crossing paths with somebody, slow down, mask up, make eye contact, offer passage and turn your face away as both parties quickly traverse the shared space.

A quick “excuse me” or “after you” is a nice touch.
Stay Positive and Friendly

Running is a great way to relieve stress, and we’re all feeling plenty of that right now. But stressed-out people can be the least friendly versions of themselves.

So attend to your mindset before you set out on your next run.

Take a few deep breaths, relax, reset and try to let go of any resentments you might be feeling. That way, you’ll be in a better frame of mind for those “excuse me”s and “after you”s, and won’t feel so put out by the idea of wearing a mask or giving other people the extra distance that makes them comfortable.

And if none of that works, remember that since you’re wearing a mask, there’s no point in smiling. A nod, a wave or a thumbs up will do.

Good luck, stay safe and enjoy your next run.

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Family Workout Routines For Parents & Kids

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As many families have been learning the hard way, it’s hard to get anything done when you’re cooped up together. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for everybody to attend to their needs individually.

This is doubly true for daily exercise, where the absence of regular outlets such as organized sports can have the kids bouncing off the walls, while parents can feel stuck at home without time to squeeze in a quick run or gym trip.

Sometimes the best solution is to work out together. But what does that look like, exactly?

You’re not going to hand a 35-pound kettlebell to your eight-year-old and tell them to swing it around (seriously, do not do this). And your eight-year-old probably isn’t going to sit idly by while you work through your regular regimen. You’ll have to find some middle ground, and work through a few exercises that are equally fun and challenging for everybody.

HOKA has a few recommendations to keep in mind, but first, let’s start with the basics.

How much exercise do kids need?

Healthy growth and development require physical activity throughout the day for preschool-aged children (ages three through five), and an hour per day of more focused activity for kids aged six to 17, according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.

Adults should aim for 20-40 minutes per day of daily exercise, per the US Department of Health and Human Services.

So right away there’s a bit of a disparity – your kids need to be active for longer each day than you do. This is common knowledge to any parent, where the mission is to always play in ways that make the children expend more energy than you do. But now you know exactly how much more and how often.

Can my kid work out with me?

Absolutely!

When building out a routine that works across generations, it’s best to focus on cardio and plyometric exercises, as this scales well across various body weights. They’re also the easiest to accomplish indoors at home or in the backyard or nearby park. Some light free weight training exercises (think soup can curls) are also fine after about age seven or so.

The CDC recommends three types of physical activity each week for children and adolescents:

  1. Aerobic activity, anything that elevates heart rate.
  2. Muscle-strengthening activity such as core work and isolated bodyweight exercises.
  3. Bone-strengthening activity that can involve any high-impact plyo exercise.

Keep all of this in mind while building out a cross-training circuit you can all enjoy.

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Recommended intergenerational exercises

Based on recommended activity types, you can build an interchangeable circuit that works great for you and your kids, and have a field day even if it’s in your living room.

Mix and match from the following:

  1. Aerobic exercises like jump rope, dancing, running, steps, mountain climbers and more.
  2. Muscle-strengthening exercises such as pilates, planks, single-leg deadlifts, wall sits, push-ups, sit-ups, triceps dips, bridges, inchworms, lunges or squats.
  3. Bone-strengthening exercises, for example, jumping, ladder drills, burpees, circle jumps or jumping jacks.

Kid-friendly workout routines

Choosing exercises for a circuit that will be equally challenging for both you and your kids is the easy part. The most important aspect of building a great kid-friendly workout routine is finding a way to make it engaging for shorter attention spans.

The best advice is to get creative with how you frame the workout. “Ten burpees, ten pushups, five minutes of jump rope, ten lunges and a five-minute wall sit” doesn’t sound like as much fun as “The incredible yard games challenge” or “Space adventure super time” – even if they amount to the same thing.

Choose from exercises listed in the exercise section, and try the following ways to do do them together:

  1. Parent demo, kid challenge – you can do the circuit first to “show them how it’s done,” then sit back and watch as they give it a shot. Or try it the other way around, where they give you pointers. Remember, you don’t have to over-instruct on proper form. Just being active is good for a kid.
  2. Time trials – See if your kid can run a circuit faster than you can (spoiler alert: they probably can, but you can act like you didn’t get the timer right). For added fun, ask them to give you a head start then reward them for catching up.
  3. Silly versions – Challenge your kid to a variety of “silly” versions of each circuit that will engage their imagination – do it again like a unicorn, or a space alien. You can even get in the act too.
  4. Make a story – You’re not just exercising to exercise, you’re training to slay a dragon, or drilling to become an astronaut. Rename each exercise to fit the theme.
  5. Set up an obstacle course – what’s more fun for a kid (or adult) than an obstacle course?

As you look into exercises and modifications that work for both you and your little ones, keep in mind that you have an endless variety of props at your disposal.

Do elevated push-ups with your legs on couch cushions, make each station in the circuit into a “base” defined by a hula hoop, use a stuffed animal to help you measure lunge distance.

The more fun you have in your family workouts, the better mood you’ll both be in when it’s time to hop back on that business call or virtual classroom.

Good luck, and it’s Time to Fly™.

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Intro to Stroller Running

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Snack prep. Play and pretend time. Frantic hollering. Picking up toys. Cleaning up messes. Banging on pots and pans. Finding and putting on shoes.

Parenting is a challenging but rewarding job under the most predictable circumstances.

But with daily household rhythms thrown off kilter to reflect quarantine necessities, family togetherness is the new normal for any given activity.

That’s why parents at all experience levels are looking into new methods to healthy, productive exercise – including stroller running.

Before you get started, you’ll want to know what to expect. After all, you wouldn’t want to get off on the wrong foot and end up with a bunch of new gear gathering dust in the garage.

HOKA shares a few helpful tips to ease your approach to running with your baby.

Find a Running Stroller You Can Trust

When you’re going anywhere or doing anything with precious cargo, safety is always the top consideration. But price is another important one.

Running strollers can be pricey, with some top-of-the-line models going in the $600-$700 range. There are less expensive options as well, but these can carry a few compromises. Construction quality is the one compromise not worth making. Read customer reviews thoroughly to get an idea of the overall trust level, as you would for any baby-safe product.

As you research running stroller model production quality, you’ll find a range of options and price points that may suit your needs. Keep in mind that some additional features may increase the initial price of a stroller, but save money and hassle in the long run.

Consider the following:

  • Age range and adjustability features – these can keep your stroller out on the road for longer without necessitating another purchase down the line
  • Accessory features such as wrist strap – while a wrist strap is recommended for safety and cup holders are helpful for convenience, you can buy these separately
  • Wheels and suspension – Although flat tires and fussy babies is a combination worth avoiding, air-filled wheels can offer a smooth ride over rugged paths with less weight than foam-filled or solid tires, and an advanced suspension system can also make your tot more amenable to hopping in

Before you spend, ask yourself how long you plan on running with your baby, and over what terrain. This can help you narrow your stroller options to the right model for your budget.

Just be prepared to adjust this initial plan once you get out on the road. Your child will always have their own opinion.

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Adjust Your Expectations

Running with a stroller is almost a completely different sport than when you’re on your own. The added weight and pushing action will make some changes necessary – and that’s if your kid stays asleep the whole time.

Remember, they’re along too. And that means you’ll be multitasking between parenting and running. As a parent, you already know that flexibility is necessary – anything can happen at any time. But runners are creatures of habit, so adjusting your running routine to incorporate kid chaos can be a challenge.

Adjust your expectations, and give yourself wiggle room for multiple definitions of a “successful” run.

Consider the following:

  • Keep a distance range and alternate routes in mind – even if you’d prefer to get a solid 5-mile run, it’s good to prepare yourself to accept a brisk 2 mile run cut short by a meltdown
  • Alter your pacing and/or add weight – pushing a stroller will make your regular runs more difficult, but you can use this to your advantage to adjust the intensity of your workout
  • Experiment with scheduling – every kid is different; maybe yours will find the runs soothing, and slide off into naptime, maybe it’s more of an invigorating post-nap experience, or maybe it’s a case-by-case opportunity to burn off some of that destructive energy
  • Plan for contingencies – remember that going on a run with your baby is exactly like every other time you leave the house with your baby; it’s always better when you bring everything you might need
  • Build in positive interaction points – you and your baby will both get more enjoyment out of running together if you schedule breaks for cooperative activities like feeding and play time
  • Work out in other ways too – for new parents used to a hardcore training regimen, it can be a challenge to be adaptive and keep an open mind toward working out — try some playground cross-training, and stay resilient in the face of unplanned interruptions

Setting out with the right equipment and the right mindset are both very important. But what happens when you get out there?

Change Your Running Approach

Running with a stroller and a baby will cause a few necessary tweaks to your usual approach.

The most important of these is the need for increased attentiveness. Take extra heed of your surroundings. Safety is priority one, but making sure you don’t leave a cherished binky in your dust can be a fairly close second.

Additional changes include the following:

  • Scout a safe, relatively smooth route with adequate stroller clearance
  • Take those earbuds out and listen carefully for signs of distress
  • Keep your eyes on the path, both ahead and in your periphery
  • Maintain an easy grip on the stroller as you run to prevent hunching
  • Drive from your core and legs to make the best use of the added weight

Now that you’re fully prepared, let’s prepare your little one.

Get Your Child Involved

Going for a super-fast stroller ride seems like it’d be a pretty fun activity. But it doesn’t always pay to make assumptions, especially when you’re dealing with a toddler.

If your child is old enough to communicate their opinion, ask for it before strapping them in. This goes beyond careful phrasing that gives them some control over the situation, although “Want to go for a run with me?” is a good standby.

You can also ask where they want to go, what they like to see, what they noticed and what was their favorite part. You can plan a stop at a playground, or set up a reward system. You can even get them involved in your workout by letting them choose a “fast part.”

How exactly you handle it is of course up to you, but anything you do to make your runs feel like “our” runs will make the entire process much more enjoyable for all involved.

Also, a routine can help your child adjust their expectations as well. For example, if you’re lucky enough to have a daycare option within running distance, setting the expectation that a stroller run is the preferred commute method can make it just as enjoyable for your tot as it is for you.

Parenting can wear you out just as surely as regular exercise can increase your energy level. Combining them seems like an ideal solution, and it can certainly be both rewarding and convenient.

Just make sure you go about it with the right blend of caution and preparation.

Good luck and happy running. It’s Time to Fly™.

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