Running is universal. It is perfect for quick and easy exercise or can be a catalyst for a lifestyle change. Running is not technical; anyone can be a runner.
We see the variety of the sport in our New York-based influencers, Gabrielle Amani, Lennox Joseph, and Tyra Johnson. Even with different careers, hobbies, and purposes, our interviewees still have one thing in common: they all love running.
Tyra, a model, believes staying active and running gives her the opportunity to lead a fulfilling life. Johnson has been running for two years while training for the marathon. MEFeater’s CEO and co-founder, Gabrielle Amani, uses running to decompress. Lennox finds solace in running as well. He uses it to stay fit as a model and musician. We sat down with these runners to highlight the impact of running on one’s wellness journey as an individual and as a community.
Where It All Started
Whether it is an extracurricular activity, a family tradition, or doctor’s orders, everyone has a starting point in their wellness journey. Running is one of the most low-maintenance ways to exercise, so once you get started, it is hard to stop.
Tyra Johnson: My brother actually got me a pair of Nike running shoes, and what started as a routine walk around my neighborhood quickly became a routine run around the neighborhood. Being the youngest girl of 10 children, it was always important for me to be bold. I am a freelance model and photographer who is often inspired by the colors and shapes around me. My everyday life requires me to be pretty active, so I incorporate techniques that I use while running, such as conscious movement and breathing deeply.
Gabrielle Amani: I got into running because I needed an outlet that was both healthy and goal-oriented. I think running is great when you want to stay slim and don’t want to bulk up. As a child, I was always active. When I was younger, I was a gymnast and a cheerleader. However, once I moved to NYC in the 8th grade, I didn’t find myself being active as much. I missed the discipline and goals I used to have when I was in sports. I also missed the tranquility, so running became my new sport. It was personal, independent, and helped clear my mind. I think running is peaceful. It’s a moment to really connect with your thoughts, and that’s why I got into running. For the peace of it.
Lennox Joseph: I got into running at a very young age. At around 7 years old, I started playing soccer, and now when I run, I get the clearest thoughts. Honestly, it’s hard to balance everyday life with staying fit because of my career choices (in music and modeling), but I always do my best to run at least 3 times a week.
Inspiration Behind the Wellness
The wellness journey is called a “journey” for a reason. There are highs and lows, and with every low comes the need for inspiration. Do you want to keep your body healthy and energized? Get up and run. Or, if there is someone you want to support in their health journey, you can get up and run for them. The motivation to stay fit is found in many places.
Tyra Johnson: I wanted to participate in a marathon because I enjoy the camaraderie. Growing up, I would take pride in going up the street to watch the runners with my family. It’s very interesting to see runners with different abilities take part in the race. Running is physically important because it helps with circulation and can provide meditational benefits. You can run in a group or as an individual.
Gabrielle Amani: I think it’s about making time for what makes you happy. I’m not sure what inspired me to run, but running, as simple as it is, makes me happy. I enjoy fitness, the hot air, the movement, and all of that joy is great for your mental health. Running a company is hard, and it causes a lot of stress. There are a lot of circumstances you’re not prepared for because, essentially, there’s no handbook to having a successful company. Anyone who works for themselves or as a freelancer understands this feeling. For me, running keeps me mentally sane. Without it, I don’t know what I would do.
Lennox Joseph: Running helped with my mental health in many ways, especially during the pandemic. It is my peace of mind and my thinking place. I feel like I could have easily become depressed without running.
The Impact of Running on your Mind, Body, and Spirit
On the surface, running seems to be beneficial only to your body. We often think of the physical transformation wellness can bring, but your body houses your mind and spirit as well. These aspects of yourself are impacted by the sport too. As you raise your heart rate, breathe in the fresh air, and look at picturesque imagery, it all benefits your mental health. The way you feel about yourself and others can change along with your physical appearance as you take the time to run.
Tyra Johnson: I think some major misconceptions people have about runners are that runners have a certain lifestyle or build. I think running is mostly about having passion and purpose. To be a runner, you have to do one thing: get out there and get going. Running has improved my mental health during the pandemic because with every step my foot hit the ground, I was thankful to be able to move my body. Running gave me a chance to cherish the place I live, especially while the usually busy streets held a solemn quietness.
Gabrielle Amani: Throughout my childhood, I was taught that how you look directly reflects your mental state. I realize that’s not always true, but for me, running definitely has helped with my confidence. At times, I feel a bit uncomfortable because some people stare at my chest, as I have a big chest, which I love. But when I run, I don’t feel uncomfortable even if someone is looking at me. It’s my body and I own it. Running has made me feel more confident in my body and helped me own my curves.
Lennox Joseph: Honestly, running a race wasn’t always a goal for me, but I participated in the 5k DONNA Virtual Run Weekend in 2021 for breast cancer. My sister beat breast cancer, and I know there are a lot of people that don’t survive it, so that run meant a lot to me. Running impacted me in many ways, but the most unexpected way I can think of is the way running made me rethink life.
Across careers, whether it is running a magazine or working a camera, wellness is essential. No matter your age, profession, or motivation, running is one of the most versatile and impactful ways to stay fit. At any stage in life, building a running routine is attainable because it only requires space and your feet. Like Gabrielle, Lennox, and Tyra, running can change your life for the better—even at the most basic level.
To start your running journey, visit Nike’s resource hub for runners, Nike Studio NYC.