Why this running-averse guy is training for Philly's Broad Street Run and inviting you to join him

“You’re gonna do what?” my friend of several years exclaimed.

I had just revealed to him my plans to complete the Broad Street Run. Naturally, he inquired why? Why would a non-running, unathletic, nacho-loving lad like myself be remotely interested in running 10 miles?

The answer is simply to see whether I can do it—although this might change as I gain perspective.

My name is Brandon T. Harden and I’m 27 years old. I try to make healthy choices. I work out a few times a week, I stay away from soda and I meditate daily — but I’m no Idris Elba, who’s known for his shredded abs and bustling biceps. So for me, running 10 miles will be a mental feat — a test of discipline, consistency,  and self-worth.

Growing up, physical health and nutrition weren’t prevalent topics of conversation in my household. I’m a southerner, born and raised into an earnest working-class family in Houston. The rhetoric around food was simple in my family: Eat what tastes good, season everything well, and always finish the food on your plate. The rhetoric around exercise was just as simple: Work out if you can, but no worries if you don’t. I imagine that this is true for a number of families, particularly in African American communities. According to a study conducted in 2015 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health, African Americans were 20 percent less likely to engage in active physical activity than non-Hispanic whites. It wasn’t until my adult life that I began to pay more attention to how I’m treating my body and how those decisions, small and large, would impact my mind and body in the future.

Beyond the health perks that I’m sure to benefit from — such as losing weight, building muscle, and having a healthier heart — I’m curious to explore how the race will impact other areas of my life. Will I be more productive? Will I see a change in my mood? Will I sleep better? How will completing the Broad Street Run alter my relationship with food?  Will the run strengthen my relationship with my partner? With my family? What type of music gets me motivated during training? What sucks the most about training? How does it feel to cross the finish line of the run? These are all questions I plan to answer during the journey to the finish line.

Putting one foot in front of the other isn’t the hard part. For many people, me included, the most difficult part of getting fit is finding a routine that works for their lifestyle. To remedy this, I began following the Inquirer’s 15-week beginner training plan on Jan. 22 and I encourage you to follow my journey. I’ll be writing about the perils of training for a 10-mile run. Am I wearing the right shoes? What happens when I’m too tired to run? How am I ensuring that I stay injury free? What are some of the best running routes in the city? I’m planning to uncover the answers to these questions and lots more. If you have tips and tricks you’d like to share with this beginner, feel free to send them my way.

Every goal I set is paired with purpose. I’m running Broad Street for self-empowerment, self-exploration,  and self-discipline. What will you run for?