National Running Day is Wednesday, June 5th. How are you celebrating? Warm, sunny days are inspiring many of us to lace up our shoes and jog along the lakefront, local path or maybe even put a 5k, half marathon or marathon on our to-do list.
I’ll never forget finishing my first marathon – it was in Paris, France. While the marathon was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many reasons, the training was what stood out as my greatest memory of all. I’m still friends with the women (and two men) that were in my training group that ran up and down Chicago’s lakefront path 10 years ago.
When I heard about Fellow Flowers, I knew that they’ve found something special.
Fellow Flowers, created by Maryellen Charbonneau and Tori Sager was formed after a journey completed by fourteen women in 2011. They connected through running, but it was what they shared during their training that planted the seeds for Fellow Flowers to bloom. “We were everyday women trying to fit it all in – balancing life, family, work, time for ourselves and everything in between,” says Ms. Charbonneau. “During our training, we talked more about about life – the good, the bad, the struggles, the celebrations – then we ever did about running.”
Ms. Charbonneau also found a spiritual connection. “We realized that running was a spiritual and sacred vessel by which we were discovering our true selves, and finding the courage to tell our story,” she says. “And the connection with other women – the ‘I’m not the only one’ or ‘I don’t have to be strong all the time’ was transformative for each of us. The power of this movement isn’t in the running, it’s in creating the space for women to honor, share and celebrate their stories, and know that when they release it, they will be met with unconditional support and fierce love.”
In order to let everyone know that this group was together a friend came up with the idea for a flower, so on race day all 14 women pinned a gerber daisy in their hair. Little did they know that the flower would become the Fellow Flowers universal symbol of friendship and connection. “The many colors you see today all represent the different reasons, stories and purposes behind ‘why’ women run and are inspired by those original women they trained with,” explains Ms. Charbonneau. “Their essences, personalities, stories and purposes are intertwined into all of them. That’s why when women say, ‘This sounds just like me’ when reading a statement, we can say, ‘That’s because it was inspired by a woman just like you.’ The connection in those moments is profound.”
Ms. Sager says that Fellow Flowers consist of women of all ages, although some supporting husbands and fathers have been known to join in on some of the fun. She also says that many new moms join, which is a great way for mom to get some much needed exercise and ‘girl’ time in as well. “A healthy mom is a much happier mom and fitting in exercise is most essential to the mind during these very tired months. You must learn to ask for help and get over that crazy mommy guilt that we all feel for doing something for ourselves. Seriously, get over it. Now. The faster you figure that out, the better you become. Your precious bundle will be just fine while you head out the door for a quick run,” shares Ms. Sager.
I myself have always viewed running as a great way to get out and breath some fresh air solo for even just 30 minutes so I could tackle the day with my four daughters. After each one was born I would always make time for exercise, calling a friend or grabbing a cup of coffee, because Sager is right, happy mom equals happy baby. “No more excuses, clip in your purple flower and get after it. The hardest steps are the first steps out the door, however the feeling of being done and fitting it in is always better than the feeling of wishing you had. Rarely will you even hear a woman say, ‘Man, I really regretted taking that time for myself to go for that run,’ says Ms. Sager. Fellow Flowers is a group with no membership fees, or restrictions, instead it’s a solid group of women and supporters who inspire and empower each other.
“We have women and organizations across the country who contact us, each doing amazing things for their communities and causes,” shares Ms. Charbonneau. “Right now, rather supporting just one charity, we try to spread the love as much as possible. For instance, we donated over 250 flowers to an ‘I Am Strong’ race in Iowa, because the values of the race were in complete alignment with ours. And just this month we donated 750 blossom cards and flowers to Girls on the Run in Dane County, Wisconsin, so that every girl participating in their spring 5K can cross the finish line wearing a flower. Additionally, we’ve supported an organization called the Bloom Foundation, founded by one of our Originals Dr. Breanna Pond, which focuses on giving postpartum women the tools and resources they need to foster a healthy lifestyle.” For more inspiration I encourage you to visit the Fellow Flowers website.
In the meantime, National Running Day is Wednesday, June 5th. In honor of this day, Competitor Group is having a special on it’s half marathon series races (if you’ve even run one of the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathons you know how incredible they are). They are offering $20 off all domestic races and a ton of other specials you won’t want to miss. The neat thing about Rock n’ Roll races is that they have several to choose from, and all of them have a band at every mile marker with a great headliner at the finish.
Chicago hosts its 5th annual XSport Fitness Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon on July 21st. This year’s headline concert at the post-race party in Grant Park features the band Walk off The Earth. You’ll want to click here and stay logged on from 8AM-8PM. for National Running Day specials and giveaways from Participating sponsors include Brooks, Maui Jim, Moving Comfort and more!
However you decide to celebrate National Running Day, weather you lace up and head out, or sign up for a fun race with your friends, I hope you get a chance to savor every moment of your training and remember, it’s not necessarily the race it’s the journey. Although cool medals and fun bands always help!