Guest Blog (LAX): Finding your team as an Adult

This week we’ve got a great blog lined up from John Asante! Haven’t had a chance to talk to him at a workout? Well, say hi next time! In fact, at every workout, try to say hi to someone you haven’t seen before or talked to before.

Alright, here’s John to share with us John’s story.

I have always felt most myself, as part of a team, especially when it came to playing sports.

Growing up in the ‘burbs of Jersey and later Atlanta, I spent my childhood playing ALL the team sports. Pick-up games, organized select teams, the classics like rec basketball and soccer, the alt stuff like tennis and even bowling — I played year-round and joyfully. That sense of teammate camaraderie evolved to long-lasting meaningful friendships. While I was never the star player (nor the most graceful, as my NP fam knows,) I worked my ass off at practices, cheered on my teammates, coaches my kid siblings,  and always worked to build team morale.

These habits continued through my 20s while living in DC and New York. I joined various rec leagues, probably to scratch the competitive itch and combat the loneliness of moving to a new city. But I also began to learn how to break down barriers with others through getting vulnerable. I built resilience and shattered old fears through building trust on a team.

In the midst of all my activities, there was one sport I was totally fine doing on my own: running. My relationship with the sportwas once frustrating (after a year of riding the struggle bus on my high school’s cross country team) to challenging (as I started running half marathons) and now therapeutic. Running has become a way for me to clear my head and explore my surroundings, especially when work and life get busy.

When I moved to LA nearly 2 years ago, ready for new adventures and experiences, all the while feeling like I was losing part of who I was. I was yearning to be part of something bigger than myself. While I sorted through my thoughts, I turned the one constant that’s served as my north star, helping me gain confidence, calm my energy and focus my mind: running. But there was one problem: I found running clubs intimidating and too serious for my liking. I was cool with popping in earbuds, getting lost in a playlist, and putting one foot in front of the other. But I was eager to make friends in my new city, so I bit the bullet, searched for “LA running groups,” and found November Project LAX (Thanks, Google!)

After researching NP for several weeks, trying to figure out if it was a cult (still up for debate!), I mustered up the courage to #justshowup to the Griffith Observatory one foggy Wednesday morning in November. As I walked out of the parking lot, dozens of friendly faces emerged from the low-sitting clouds, ready to run at 6:30am. (Surprise, it was PR Day!) That first workout felt like the first day of school — equal parts nerve-racking and promising. But it was even more incredible than I expected. I was surrounded by strangers who were willing to welcome a newbie Angeleno with (literal) arms wide open. I left feeling rightfully tired, incredibly exhilarated, and ready to do it all over again. Plus, all my anxiety of joining a running group went out the window: it wasn’t about who was the fastest or strongest. It was all about the collective working together to encourage each other.

Soon enough, I started to cherish the benefits of “waking up the sun,” NP-style. This group helps me focus on appreciating the little things in our world, even when things might not be so great our personal lives. Each session felt like part motivational gathering, part escape from my real world issues. During my first year in NP, I was going through some incredibly tough personal matters: ending the relationship that brought me out to LA in the first place, dealing with family issues from across the country, and coping with health issues. My epilepsy (which I was diagnosed with at 27) started to rear its ugly head again in the form of 2 seizures in 6 months. Suffice it to say, I’d hit some real low points.

But having the support of the NP family filled with strong, bold, brilliant, unique, and loving people was just what I needed to feel like myself again. Venturing across the city, from Griffith to Santa Monica to DTLA and beyond with this crew became a form of therapy. These aren’t just my “workout friends” — they’re my pool party pals, concert buddies, dance partners, and best friends. Some are them are even listed as my emergency contacts…that’s how much I trust these folks! And once I invited my best friend/partner Blake into the mix, and I noticed how much these early morning gatherings were uplifting her spirits, it confirmed that NP was the community for me!

Since then, I’ve gained the strength to be my complete self again — a quirky, gregarious, healthy, positive guy who laughs loudly and proudly, poses a bit too hard for the action shots, and talks your ear off about which podcasts you should listen to. On almost any night before an NP gathering, I get giddy about giving high-fives on hill repeats, cracking jokes in between sets of burpees, meeting new people during, running races and cheering on others, and exploring LA with people I adore at the crack of dawn. I found my team, y’all, and it feels so damn good.

Glad you’re here!

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Friday 5/17 – Duane St. 6am. Tracker HERE

Sunday 5/19 – Finish the Run 5K/10K/13.1 in Griffith Park (meeting at the Autry Museum) THIS SUNDAY! Use the code NOVPROJECT for 40% off and get ready for a good time! Last year we brought the party so let’s do it again!! After race bRUNch plans included.

Run it Forward Challenge – For the next month (until 6/5), Strava will be hosting a challenge alongside Brooks to raise miles for charity. What does that mean? Well first you’ll need to download and sign up for Strava. It’s free and you don’t have to give any information away. Run/walk as many miles as you can and for every 10,000 collective miles we run in the challenge, Brooks will donate gear to a high school runner in need. More information and to sign up click HERE. Totally FREE and great way to give back by running!!

June 5 = Pride Tags + June 9 = NP Pride Fun Run details to come soon!

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