Running Medicine is based on the understanding that running and exercise is a beautiful and potent medicine for mind, body, and spirit. Formed as a program of the Native Health Initiative (NHI), our vision is to create a culture of wellness through a supportive, loving community.
The Native Health Initiative (NHI) is a non-profit partnership that was created in 2005 to improve the health and well-being in Native American communities. We have supported fitness/wellness efforts throughout the history of our work, including partnering on running races, running camps, and other activities that work to build cultures of wellness in Native communities. Given the large burden of chronic disease that leads living sicker and dying younger in this population, NHI feels that exercise is critical to changing this reality.
NHI noticed that no low-cost, family-oriented running/walking programs existed in Albuquerque, the biggest city in New Mexico. We aimed to fill the void of all three with the creation of Running Medicine (RM). This name was a way to connect the program to Native American culture, where running is universally a part of ceremonies and healing, done as a way of giving thanks and praying. We also wanted to invoke the idea that running is indeed medicine for mind, body and spirit.
In January 2016, we launched RM with a meeting in the Fleg living room. Though the room had many accomplished runners, we all felt that a focus on family, having fun, and being inclusive was what we wanted to see in this program. We decided that a launch of the program in March was possible, and began to work as a team of volunteers to make this happen. One key step in this was a logo contest for the RM logo, won by Nate Smith (Jemez Pueblo). The logo helped solidify our image, invoking much more than cardiovascular fitness. It got people excited to get some of that Running Medicine!