Imagine an intentional gathering in the middle of Albuquerque; where clean energy in the form of 80-100 runners and walkers sweating it out together takes place three times a week. Over the last two years, Running Medicine, a wellness program of the Native Health Initiative (NHI), has been creating that sacred space. It is based on the understanding that running and exercise is a beautiful, potent medicine to strengthen mind, body and spirit. The broader intention is to create a culture of wellness through a supportive, loving community. “We want to create a space that inspires people and families to reach higher ways of seeing themselves. It is about much more than improving cardiovascular fitness,” says Danielle Kie (Acoma/Dine’), one of the program’s leaders.

 

Running Medicine’s core values include being inclusive to all ages (intergenerational) and fitness levels, and being zero-waste. The program also values indigenous culture and the ways that running is integrated into ceremonies, rites of passage and one’s spiritual path.

 

Participants include little ones not yet walking, grandparents and all ages in between. Each “celebration” (the term the organizers use instead of “practice”) begins with someone leading with an inspiration for the day. One of the youth recently opened the circle saying, “I love being out here with you all. I see this as my family. When I run, I think of doing this for people who can’t run.”

 

This summer, Running Medicine Taos was created. Both groups hope to connect Taos and Albuquerque residents through running and walking starting this fall—including offering a youth cross-country season—while keeping the family feel to the program.

 

For more information, email runningmedicineabq@gmail.com or visit Running Medicine’s Facebook page.