A Maryland based runner and yoga teacher, Adina Crawford (@deanietheyogini) exudes positive energy and an encouraging attitude. Her story is filled with mindfulness, inspiration and gratitude. Read on to learn about her experience with running and her advice to those who need a little passion in their lives.
When did you start running and what is it about the sport that has kept you so passionate?
“The running journey...wow, that’s a loaded question. I started running around 2009 or so, it was just something that I know I needed to do. My husband put it bluntly and said, ‘you need to get off the couch and you need to get moving.’ He was very frank and very direct about it, but I knew he was looking out for my welfare. That's when I started my journey.”
How did you find Black Girls Run and what has been the most positive experience about being a part of that organization?
“When I first started running, I ran alone. I then found Fleet Feet and signed up for their 5K program but continued to do my runs alone. One day I was running and this lady, who I’m still close to, Lisa Roberts, says to me, “hey who are you running with?” I told her I’ve been running alone, and she suggested I start running with her group. The group was called Black Girls Run. The rest is history! It was amazing and it’s been an incredible journey.
Black Girls Run has over 225,000 members. You have women from all over and I look to them to be my accountability partners, for encouragement, and for engagement. Each of the individual ladies have really kept my feet in the running game. It's been an amazing journey with BGR.”
Would you recommend accountability partners to keep up with running?
“Definitely link up with accountability partners, but also find your own niche. You need to find your own level so that you don’t get discouraged. It’s important to be kind to yourself and remember that everyone started somewhere. Some of us are late bloomers. Some of us have never run before.
One of my favorite stories about my run journey is that about four years ago, I posted on my Facebook page about running. A guy who I went to elementary school with commented, “Oh my God, I can’t believe it, you're running... I remember you when you were in the gym, you would hate the gym, you would stand on the sideline of the gym and not exercise.”
I feel so humbly blessed. I’ve really started to blossom and speak the truth about a lot of different things when it comes to fitness in the world of diversity and in the world of women of color.”
Can you speak more to your experience being a woman of color in the fitness world?
“It’s been an interesting journey because I have been doing triathlons, mainly indoor triathlons for a long time and I can recall going to many, many events and me being the only woman of color… the only. There were no others. Being in different sports, it's been a challenge. People look at you differently if you aren’t as fast as them. But I have gotten past all of that now and I’m here to encourage others just to keep going.
When I did the Chicago Marathon, that was my first marathon. Coming to that finish line, or seeing other women on the pavement, women who look just like me was so exhilarating. Because I’m like we’re out here, we’re doing this and we’re going to finish upright. I also remember seeing Black Girls Run members, a sea of them on different parts of the course and it was just amazing, absolutely amazing.”
When did you start working with Balega and why do you like being part of the ambassador team?
“This is my first year as a Balega ambassador! I might be new to the ambassador team but not new to the socks. The socks have been a blessing for me on many, many runs. I like the fact that they give a soft pillowy cushion to the bottom of my feet. The socks have been a godsend and I’m so excited that I was selected to be an ambassador, I’m truly grateful for that. They’re my superpower, the socks are my superpower.”
How did you find yoga and how does it influence your life?
“One of the reasons I got into yoga is to cross train because I was having a lot of knee pain. You have to be able to give your body a rest. Lengthen those muscles and really find something different. Yoga can make you a better runner, you just have to incorporate that into your routine.
I found that I needed something different in my life, more mental clarity and more appreciation for my body and the space that I was in. Between yoga and teaching meditation, I find such peace.”
You lead quite a busy life. What do you do to stay grounded throughout the chaos?
“Self-care days. I also have three daily gifts that I focus on. When I focus on these three gifts, which are plentiful to me, all my other troubles are less daunting. Every day I wake up with my three gifts and give complete thanks to those three gifts. The gift of breath, the gift of movement and the gift of life. Those are the things we often forget about but those are the things we need to be grateful for.”
What words of advice do you have to someone who wants to start running or is new to the sport?
“Be kind to yourself. We often get discouraged if, for instance, you go out to a run, you can’t keep up, and you start falling behind. We all started somewhere so be kind to yourself and find a beginner running program. BGR has a saying, ‘no women left behind.’ With BGR, you'll never be alone. Someone is always going to be with you.
Do your research as well. Find out more about different run groups and see if it's a fit for you! The main goal is to have people come back. You want them to be encouraged, not discouraged. We’re all beginners at something, whether it's racquetball, tennis; we all have to start somewhere, so just be kind to yourself.”
What are the words you live by?
“There is one quote that has been with me for a long time. “If you need validation from others, you will never reach your true level of ability. Eagles alone avoid the storm by flying above it, so just keep going.” You have to look at it without looking for validation from others for what you are doing. You have to just keep going. Keep that blissful feeling to yourself, and just keep going!”
Who or what makes you feel empowered?
“I have three role models that I look at. First, Jay Ell Alexander, the CEO of Black Girls Run. She’s more than just a figurehead, she is a motivational person, an encourager. So, she is one of the people that I look to that makes me feel empowered, that I can do anything. Sally Bergesen, she is the actual owner and founder of Oiselle. A very strong minded, encouraging woman that is just boots on the ground, let's get this done. Finally, Brene Brown is very encouraging and very motivational.”
Is there anything else you would like to add?
“It is never too late to dream another dream. Here I am, I would have never thought that I would be a brand model. I would have never thought that. I have extended an olive branch out to different brands by saying, “hey, let's talk about size and inclusivity” and it's just gone very well.
Surround yourself with people that are going to lift you up. You want to be around positive people. I have been blessed in many ways that I have been around positive people, from brand owners, to my friends, to my family, to my accountability partners.”
Photo credit: Alexis Reed