Category Archives: BMR Blog

Runner’s Spotlight – Shannon Booker, BMR Atlanta.

London, England, here comes Shannon Booker!

By James Hale, BMR Atlanta, Captain.

Shannon Booker is one of our brothers in the Atlanta Chapter of Black Men Run. He’s a Pennsylvania native, a proud member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated, and he is also a Delaware State University and Wilmington University alum.

Shannon, how did you get started running?

I have been a sprinter my whole life. I sprinted in the Penn relays while I was in high school. While living in Fort Lauderdale in 2012 a colleague was sponsoring a race there. I ended up placing in top tier of a 5K race.  I realized then that I like doing distance races. And have been doing them ever since. I’ve completed 4 marathons and over 10 half marathons.

What attracted you to Black Men Run?

Within the running community here in Atlanta, I would always see guys with these BMR shirts. So, I googled BMR Atlanta, and I found the Facebook page and the rest is history. I actually messaged the page and you responded with the run schedule.  I joined some of the Monday runs at Piedmont Park. Because of my work schedule, I could not commit to every Monday. So, I make them when I can.

What I enjoy most about BMR is the fellowship within the organization, the comradery and the networking and just having a good time, being genuine with each other. It is really a healthy brotherhood in the physical and the mental.

Was it hard going from sprinting to running distance races?

The struggle for me was in the proper training and not following through with those training plans. I had to make myself be more disciplined to stick to the training plans.

What keeps you running, motivated?

It is a great outlet for me. I actually enjoy running. It is great for your physical and mental health.  It gives me peace and keeps me centered. While I was moving from Fort Lauderdale to Atlanta, running provided me with some peace during the transition. It’s very therapeutic. Most days, I will just get up and go for a run. If I could do anything for the rest of my life, it would be running.

Do you have a favorite location to run in Atlanta?

Atlantic Station and Piedmont Park are my starting points. I like Midtown, Downtown, the West End. Sometimes I plan a route, other times I am just exploring the city, turning here and turning there, until I make my way back to my car.

So, you are running the 2021 London marathon? How can we support you?

I am representing the Kids with Cancer UK Charity. My goal is to raise $2500. Excited to going to a different country and running one of the world major marathons and I am also excited to be able to raise money for kids with cancer. This is my first international race on October 3, 2021.  You can check out my Facebook [Shannon Booker] and Instagram page [@Book1914] and click on link in bio to donate whatever you can to the fundraiser, and it will be greatly appreciated.

What advice would you give for new runners?

Run your race, i.e., focus on your running, and find a goal for yourself. You don’t know what other runners’ goals are, so just enjoy it. If you treat it like a job, you will not enjoy it. Do not think about your speed, focus on your run. Find a pace that works for you. I am just enjoying myself. I am not trying to keep up with runners that I know I cannot keep up with. Some days, I may not be in the mood, I just will not run. Have the right shoes.   Get some headphones and a playlist that you like and just run. Once you finish, you will be surprised that you have run further than you thought you could. Just go out there and have fun.

Featured Runner of the Week, Mckinley Tenny.

Our first blog post of 2021 highlights McKinley Tenny, from the Detroit chapter of Black Men Run.

McKinley’s love for running began while attending and playing basketball during high school, in 2001. His passion for running elevated after deciding to run at his high school’s track. He became enthralled with the thrill of it all.

As a Special Olympics athlete McKinley states, “Running helps me to build and maintain my strength and makes me feel awesome afterward!”

Even though, McKinley Tenny was faced with numerous challenges, at birth. He has never allowed those challenges to be a roadblock. 

His first race was the “Run Wild for the Detroit Zoo” 5K at the Detroit Zoo in 2015.  In the same calendar year, he competed at the “Detroit Turkey Trot” on Thanksgiving Day. From there his race career took off! Since 2015, McKinley has competed in numerous 5Ks, 10Ks, Half Marathons and in 2018 he completed his first Full Marathon at the “Detroit/Chemical Bank Free Press Marathon!” 

McKinley loves to help other Special Olympic athletes by lending support and attending their running and multisport events all while encouraging his friends to push forward and finish the race! 

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His 2021 goals: To compete in the “Special Olympics” again and his target for long distance running are to participate in the world majors starting with the “Bank of America Chicago Marathon”  and then the “TCS New York City Marathon” and see where that takes him. 

New Shoe – New Goals – My thoughts around the Saucony Freedom ISO

Edward Walton – Black Men Run CMO (Chief Motivation Officer)As I like to say…run hard, run smart and keep running.

This is my first write-up for a shoe in long time. I am generally loyal to a brand and shoe once I find something that works for my current running situation. I generally change shoe brand or shoe model within a brand to address changes such as

  1. Changes in my long term running goals such as training for a marathon or deciding to focus on short speedy races generally below 15K.
  2. Recovering from injuries or having to run with a minor injury
  3. Weight gain or loss.

Once I find a shoe I like I like to get two or three pair just in case the manufacturer decides to change or discontinue a model that I like. For a shoe to make the cut it, I will give it two weeks to pass the following criteria.

  1. It must be comfortable enough for speed work (generally around 4 – 5 miles) in a tempo run on the road.
  2. It must be light enough to do track work when running 400M, 800M and sometimes 1 mile intervals.
  3. It must stand up to a medium-long run (12-15 miles) at a pace that is about 60 to 120 seconds slower than my race pace and not have my legs feeling fatigued because the shoe wasn’t good at absorbing the shock.
  4. It must allow me to feel safe running downhill if for some reason I need to start heel striking in a race.
  5. It should give me confidence. (I don’t really know how to measure that but you know confidence  when it there or it isn’t)

When I got invited to test out the new kicks from Saucony and I decided sure…. this is a good a time as any since, #1 I was coming off an injury and was finally getting my stride back, #2 – I am turning 50 years old this year and decided to run a marathon (my first in 13 years) and get qualified for the 2018 Boston Marathon and #3 – I heard good things about the shoe from other runners whom opinion I trust and respect.

I very rarely buy any running shoe sight unseen, meaning, not trying it on in a store before buying or at least seeing it in person. I can say that right of the gate Saucony got it right. The shoe came 2 days earlier that that predicted delivery time and it was right on time for my next training cycle.

Right out of the box the shoe is NO NONSENSE.  It came is a very plain black, white and red box, (My favorite colors).  I took the shoe out and noticed the it was black on black on silver on white. YES. Once again, NO NONSENSE. So, let me break down the items that I rate:

  1. Laces…thin but not like dental floss that some brands come with and the eye holes were in places that made sense, not too close but not too far apart and just enough holes to get the job done. It wasn’t laced in the tongue and I like that too.
  2. The sole of a shoe is the soul of a shoe…. this shoe has SOUL. I was fascinated by the clear rubber sole. It reminded me of a high-performance tire. I spent the next 5 minutes squeezing it and thinking…. yeah this might work. I like the tread pattern…. doesn’t mean that it will help performance but it made me like a bad ass. The outside of the sole had a black and silver pattern that speaks…I came to run…you came to have fun.
  3. The uppers were the last thing that got me on board. My feet are two different sizes. Most people are the same as NO person is 100% symmetrical on both side of their bodies. I bought at size 10.5 to account for my LARGER foot. I loved it…. well love is a strong word. I really really liked it. It feels like I bought a 10.0 and 10.5 shoe and it works…. didn’t have to wear thin socks on one foot and thick socks on the other foot.

Ok time to get at it….

Run #1 – First Date- I went for a slow jog to get some sweat in the shoe and see how it handles. It passed. It stayed firm…but it was still new so you really don’t know yet. I ran a dating 4 miler…. cause me and the shoe were still dating.

Run #2 – Time Trials. – I always put my shoe on the road first with up’s and downs. So, this run was a 4-mile tempo run. I did a 1 mile warm up…. then 4 miles at my race pace and then a 1 mile cool down. The shoe performed like I thought it would with one exception. It felt like the shoe on my smaller foot was about to come off when I took the pace below 6:30 per mile. I finished up my run and looked. I had the lacing the same for both feet and didn’t notice. I adjusted the lacing for my smaller foot and got prepared for my next run.

Run #3 – Long Run and look at the flowers – I ran an easy 15+ miler and the shoe felt great. I did have an issue once again with the lacing and the footing but decided to leave it alone. I felt that around mile 5 that I had my stride and strike dynamic in sync with the shoe and didn’t notice my heel try to come out of the shoe feeling anymore. I finished the run and felt good enough to go back out for another 3 miles.

Shoe passed the long run test.

Run #4 – Track Work – Plain and simple. 800 meter intervals. The BEST shoe I have ever run on a track with. I know the old saying “when the rubber meets the road”, but this was like when the “rubber meets the rubber”. I am a former track guy from back in my younger days so running in racing flats and spikes isn’t foreign to me. This shoe was different from spikes because it didn’t feel like the physics of step, anchor, push, dis-anchor, repeat. That is sprinter talk. It also didn’t feel like a racing flat that feels like it is about to come apart at each step. Shoe passed.

Run #5 – Shoe Breakup – This run was to find reason to say, “it’s not you, it’s me”. Here are the short comings of the shoe but not enough to dump it. It isn’t the best shoe in wet terrain. I had to shorten my stride on a run beacue I felt like I was going to slip or slide off the road. Once again think “performance tires”.

I can’t really tell if the shoe has a problem of drying out from the sweat after a run. I think it was damp after a run because I left it in a damp place. If you are going to be my main squeeze for a shoe you must be ready to go each day rain or shine. One more thing,  I don’t really know if the rubber will absorb heat…rubber tends to do that. I did run in 85-degree weather and the shoe stayed cool at 8 miles but let’s see at 20 miles.

My conclusion…. buy the shoe. Run in the shoe. Let the shoe love you first and then love the shoe. Love is such a strong word.

Get the black shoe as that shoe makes you  feel like a bad azz….

One thing to note…I have NOT competed in the shoe…. I will follow up in my next blog to see if the shoe is ready for prime time or will get stage fright.

That is all.

Edward Walton

CMO – Black Men Run

Prostate Cancer awareness | Black Men Run Atlanta

I hope our brothers that are also fathers are having a great weekend. Today some of #BMR family in Atlanta ran the Dad Dash 2014 / Cure Prostrate Cancer 5K this morning. It wasn’t a surprising race, simple physics says that if you start and stop in the same spot and the first 1.5 miles are flat and downhill what do you think the last 1.5 would be? LOL.

This run was in salute to one of our biggest supporters and a prostrate cancer survivor, Mr. Gerald Smith.

Gerald has allowed #BMR to share his story and his successful conquering of his cancer diagnosis:

At the very beginning of the BMR movement, Gerald was (is) one of our most consistent participants to our runs, events and gatherings so when he stopped attending our scheduled runs he was immediately missed. We thought his work schedule, family commitments or travel was the reason but later found out he was in aggressive treatment for prostrate cancer. Of course he had #BMR support for whatever he needed and was in our prayers the entire time.

Gerald has beaten this cancer diagnosis, had very successful treatment and is in full remission and absent of cancer. Not only that he has come back to the #BMR fold stronger and faster. He ran a personal best 5K today and did it on a challenging course.

I would like to say thank you Gerald for fighting the good fight, educating us on how to TAKE control of our fate and health and returning to your #BMR family, sharing your stories and WINNNNNNNNNNG!

This race was also support of health for American American Men and awareness about prostrate cancer. Prostrate Cancer affects African American men in a hugely disproportionate number than the general populace and it is important that we take control of our life and health by gaining knowledge and getting tested. It is absolutely a survivable and curable condition if you take the time to get tested and get treatment.

Tyler Perry – Unexpected Surprise

In today’s busy world where everyone wants to maintain their privacy, oftentimes people don’t always showcase good old fashion manners or the common courtesy to speak back when spoken too.

I was pleasantly surprised when a local (national) celebrity took the time to stop, say hello and listen to my story about a great cause I am passionate about.

The story is pretty simple, I was at my favorite running trail and getting ready to take off on my run but before I started I looked behind me to ensure I wasn’t getting in the way of another runners or bikers and I noticed two bikers that were riding hard and coming past me headed up the trail.
I noticed that that one of them was Tyler Perry and I assume the other was his trainer/security guy. I said cool, the guy is out here staying in shape and I thought it would be good to talk to him about Black Men Run and what our mission is but by that time he was long gone.

I started on my 4-mile speed run and on my return run I was about a half a mile from the start when Tyler and his trainer shot past me on their return ride.

I screamed out to Tyler, “How about a picture with me in the shirt and let me tell you about Black Men Run,” Tyler screamed back, “Dude I can’t stop; I have to kill this 10 mile bike ride and I am in zone, maybe next time”.

So I started chasing him but of course I was left in the dust, (the guy can really ride a bike), so as they pulled out of sight and I finished my run and started walking back to my car as my cool down.

So about a half mile up the road in the place where I parked I was getting ready to change shirts when I hear someone call me over and get out of his car. Tyler says he saw my shirt and wanted to say hello.

I told him who I was and what Black Men Run was about and our mission to promote a healthy lifestyle via running for African American men. He was totally onboard with our mission and thought it was a great idea.

I told him that I would get him a couple of shirts soon and he gave directions on how to get it too him. He asked if I wanted to take a picture and I said sure and he was very cool, didn’t seem put offish or rushed to end our conversation.
Now I did not see him in his car and he did not have to get out and call me over to talk.

Overall, celebrities like Tyler Perry are normal people (in a sense) but just busy like everyone else and have their own world and their own set of priorities but it was nice to see that he was out taking care of his health and made time to talk before leaving.

Communicating My Opinions and Observations

Hello my fellow runners and BMR family, I hope that all of you are well and your decision to embrace a healthy lifestyle by running is making huge positive changes and gains in your lives.

As I like to say…run hard, run smart and keep running.

On that note about “keep running”, I would like to share my observations and opinions to try to develop a correlation between two different concepts: action or lack of action.

I recently competed in a couple of local 5K and 10K races in Atlanta. I was able to finish overall number one in the 10K, second place in the masters group for the 5K, and first in my age group for another 5K. As I walked over to receive my medal and check out the 2nd and 3rd place times I noticed a trend that I assumed was the norm. A lot of the finishers in the top 35% and top 25 – 100 runners in every race were between the ages of 35 to 45. Sure, there were young runners (ages 17 – 25) and elite runners that took the overall prizes and finishes but for the most part the age demographic for the top finishers remained the same with older (experienced ) runners finishing consistently in the upper 35% – 50% of all runners. So I asked myself why this is, and I came up with a number of conditions that could explain the relatively high percentage, but I’ve narrowed it down to three things:
1. Investment (Put in now, withdraw later)
– Simply starting
– Understanding the returns
– Contribute regularly
– Contribute steadily
2. Commitment (Maintaining your health is a fulltime commitment)
– Making the lifestyle change (BMR is the first for a lot of us)
– By committee. (Competing in sports or other activities that require good physical fitness from childhood to young adult.)
3. Time (Having time to run)
– Being senior on your job, your company or career gives you time.
– Having older kids gives you time. (Running while they are otherwise occupied gives you time.)

The list above is not the definitive reasons for success for older (experienced ) runners but I believe they form the triangle of success.

After talking to guys my age (45 years young), the consensus is that they believe Investment is the most important factor, and most of the responses I get suggest that an investment of your time and a commitment to invest in ones health is no different than investing in your 401(k).

Now we have all heard that the sooner you start putting money in your 401(k) and maintaining a COMMITMENT to add a steady if not maximum amount over TIME the better you are when it comes time to withdraw for your retirement. This is true for the most part and most financial advisors will agree the numbers pan out in long run. I know there are no guarantees in anything and markets go up and go down but you increase your chances of success by following the proven method.

I maintain that the same is true for older (experienced ) runners and the success I have witnessed at races of all distances. A lot of runners (as well as bikers, swimmers, etc.) will tell you they have been at their respective sport for a decent amount of time. All the people I have talked to will say they have taken time off for a number of reasons such as health, family, career and other major life moments but those that are committed make time and come back to what they know. That is an investment in one’s overall health that will yield dividends by possibly increasing the length and quality of life as we get older.

Like I stated before, nothing is guaranteed in the financial markets and the same is the true for your health but I say following a proven method of taking control your diet, exercise and stress levels will pay off when it comes time to make a withdrawal in our golden years.

I would agree that everyone’s mileage may vary with the triangle I laid out above, and yes, being young and naturally physically gifted are major factors (elite athletes) but the law of averages say that if you apply the triangle of success with hard work you tip the scales of good health in your favor.

I will be the ripe old age of 46 soon but my fitness goals are not measured week-to-week, month-to-month or year-to-year. I look at my health in the decades to come and I choose to:
1. INVEST in Black Men Run, others that share my lifestyle ideas and me for as long as I can.
2. COMMIT to not letting a day go by that I do not evaluate how I am living and how I want to live.
3. To use the TIME I have wisely and respect the fact that I cannot get back what is wasted.

With all that said it is never too late to start.I welcome any comments and feedback and I thank you for allowing me to serve as your CMO. #blackmenrun

Thank you,

Edward Walton – [email protected]
Chief Motivation Officer