I've been reading The Blue Zones by Dan Beuttner. The Blue Zones are four regions in the world where a high ratio of the population are living well into their 100s. And not just living, they are Living, capital L. Gardening, biking, wakeboarding, holding their great, great, great, great grandkids. National Geographic first ran on article on the phenomenon. Then Dan and a team of super smarties went out to study further. What were these people doing differently? What could we learn from them?
I'm not too far in the book, but watched a TED talk in which he layed out the nine characteristics that these groups of people have in common. (He calls them the power 9. But I refuse.) You can find them all here at The Blue Zones website. The ones I found interesting were: choose the right tribe, move naturally, know your purpose and be sure to drink. Heh. Not so much the drinking one, but it is interesting to know that two glasses of wine a night are encouraged.
At this point you might feel like I'm about to ask you to sign up for a pyramid scheme selling supplements. But I'm not! Promise. Here's where it comes to running: Sally has been running with the same group of women for 15 years! I am honored to join them on Tuesdays now for 'workout day'. Anyway, as we ran our cool down this last Tuesday I started thinking about The Blues Zones and running. Specifically choosing your tribe. And what an amazing tribe a running group can be. You hold each other accountable to move.. naturally. You have a purpose. And of course you're often hashing out the stresses in your life with your group, hello therapy and, in a way, meditation.
In the book Dan describes tribe in the Okinawan word, Moai. Okinawa is a tiny island (part of Japan) and Moai is the word for the group of people who support each other their whole lives. On TED talks they showed a 100 year old woman hanging with her Moai, a group of women that have been together for nearly a centaury. Through loss and triumph, marriages, babies, death...everything.
Around these parts, it's hard to find time to see your tribe. Or find the right Moai. But as runners we are often lucky to have a Moai built into our lifestyle. Maybe you meet on Sunday morning or Wednesday night. But no matter how big or small or when or where, a running group is invaluable. They aren't just adding miles to your running log, they may just be adding years to your life.