If you’ve spoken to me or seen my Instagram feed lately, you probably know that the once unthinkable has now taken over my life. No matter what way you try to phrase it, I’m a runner. I even have a t-shirt that says so.
In fact, I have been up since 5 am today (and every Sunday for the past five or so weeks) because Sundays are now dedicated to long runs. So it seems appropriate that today’s post be about the reason why running has taken center-stage among all the things I enjoy: Beirut’s Nike Running Club.
It has made a runner out of me
To make a long story short, I went from someone who scraped through a hundred meters at a near-walking pace to actively preparing for my first real race this November.
In fact, when I first started, I never thought I would actually come to love running. It was just something I was doing because Ahmad had been urging me to try for a really long time and because Bambi’s Soapbox did such a great job relaying her experience. So I just had to try.
But now, I would be overcome with guilt if I didn’t go. All because this team constantly fuels the fire that I had never known existed within me.
It has made me discover that I can actually run and I can enjoy it too because it’s never about the distance you cover or the average pace you accomplish: it is about getting on the course and being better than you were yesterday.
Every run is different
NRC meets at 6:30 PM every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday at Nike’s Beirut Souks branch. That seems like a lot of running to do for someone who never showed any real interest in the sport. But as I quickly learned, every run is unique in its own way, ensuring you never get fatigued or disinterested.
Mondays (Ready Set Go Run) are dedicated to getting us to run better by working on our overall form and posture. Though the distance is the shortest of the three, there’s always abs, skipping, planks, basically any exercise you can think of thrown into the mix. If there’s an empty square or road that can accommodate our ever increasing group, you know we’re going to be there.
Tuesday is our local or home run where we take on Beirut’s runner unfriendly streets. Seriously, I’ve come to believe that if you can run in Beirut, with all the traffic, pollution, uneven streets, all those potholes, and hills, you’ll be able to run pretty much anywhere.
The route’s always changing, allowing us to explore various areas of the city while getting in the most distance.
On Thursdays, we push our limits. Whether overcoming those tough hills, doing interval training, or speed runs, you know the session is going to end with an increased heart-rate and a sense of utter accomplishment.
It is led by people who love the sport- and make you love it too
Every team needs a coach who can motivate and lead the runners through the distance or the exercises. NRC Beirut has Coach Mark, whose love for the sport and infectious spirit, is key in making every run what it is. He knows every person’s name and what they are capable of, and even when there’s over 50 people on a single run, he makes sure that we’re all doing okay, that we’re having fun, that we’re getting the guidance that we need.
The team would not be what it is though without our pacers: they’re our small army in Volt, who keep us safe on the roads and push us to do better.
I cannot count the kilometers that Nour, Moe, Mohammad, and Marc have run alongside me nor can I ever begin to express my gratitude for their encouragement and high-fives.
Behind the scenes, management is constantly working to keep this club running like a well-oiled machine, with water being provided after every single run, events organized often, and ensuring we always have this outlet to enjoy the sport without asking for a single lira in return.
This group exemplifies team spirit
I’ve saved the main reason I find myself coming back to NRC day after day for last: the people.
It can be increasingly difficult to make new friends when you are consumed with adulthood. But get a bunch of people with the same interest together and you’ve found a remedy for that problem. Because of NRC, my path has crossed with so many incredible people from different walks of life and I truly don’t feel that loneliness that overcame me for most of 2016.
What sets NRC apart is that you are not competing with anyone but yourself and that fosters a positive spirit among us all.
Whether it is pacing one another, smiling and sharing thumbs up on the course, giving advice about everything and anything, you can sense that these individuals understand what you are going through and want you to be your very best.
After all, we’ve seen each other at our worst (bare faces and dark circles under eyes, drenched in sweat) making no topic off limits.
Personally I know I cannot do it without my incredible NRC Beirut team and hope that I can contribute to making their experience with the club as they have made mine.
So what are you waiting for? Come Run With Us!