Leandrew Belnavis describes himself as “not your typical runner. I am a larger, big-frame black man. I embrace me being a larger body and an even larger personality.” That personality is ideal for his roles as the Community Manager (or as he describes it, “the camp counselor”) at Tracksmith and as the founder and co-captain of Boston’s Unnamed Run Crew.
Listen to the Running for Real Podcast here:
Apple (iTunes) Podcast | Sticher | Castbox | Overcast | Spotify | Google Play | iHeartradio |
Leandrew’s running journey also is not typical – it began because of a bet. He had two housemates who were amateur athletes, and one, Eric, pitched the Colchester “Tough as Nails” Half Marathon to him. Leandrew had no interest in running that race or anything else, until Eric bet him that he couldn’t do it. “And of course,” he says, “me being me, I was like, ‘all right, cool, you’re on.’”
He started training with the intention of running the race with Eric, “just huffing and puffing, and just like, ‘I hate this; I hate you guys.’ This is awful; why did I do this? Why did I choose this life?” But as he went through the process, he began to enjoy it. Two weeks before the race, Eric announced that he’d never had any intention of running it himself; it was all a plan to get Leandrew to take up running. And, Leandrew says, “I will be forever thankful for that experience.”
He ran the race, and crossed the finish line with “tears streaming down my eyes, experiencing my first runner’s high, and feeling so proud, and ever since that moment, I feel like I’ve been chasing that feeling.” “I think,” he says, “that was the catalyst for trying to get more friends, more folks in my community running, to give them the same experience, to help further their love, and just being active and just doing something that scares you.”
Leandrew wanted to run with other people like himself, but didn’t see many. “I was looking for a tribe; I was looking for people that looked like me. I was looking for people that sounded like me. I was looking for my running community and you know, sometimes when you’re not able to find what you’re looking for, sometimes you have to create it, and thus began my run crew, Unnamed Run Crew.”
Unnamed Run Crew grew exponentially, fueled by Leandrew’s natural talent for rallying people and bringing them towards a common goal. He came to the attention of Tracksmith, and was named their Community Manager a few months ago. “It’s my hope,” he explains, “to create the diversity that I want to see in Boston within Tracksmith.” It was daunting to take on that responsibility, but he’s always up for a challenge. “I’m always in beta; there’s an opportunity for me to learn from an experience and try to lean into discomfort because discomfort is a wonderful teaching tool.”
Running itself, however, is no longer something that he does for the challenge. “I think at one point in time there was something to prove, like, all right, I took on this half marathon challenge. I want to work on my mile; I want to work on my 10K. Now running is more for my mental health; it’s more of a mindful practice. I’m happy being a middle-of-the- pack, back-of-the-pack runner. I’m able to have conversations; I’m able to engage people. I’m able to encourage people. I’m able to stop and clap people in, and that’s fulfilling.”
Leandrew’s goal at Tracksmith is “to create change in the brand in a very impactful and beneficial way for all runners.” And to those who aren’t sure if they belong in the running community, he says, “Can you walk a mile? You belong. You can walk a mile; you can work up to running a mile.”
If you enjoyed this episode, you may want to check out our Run and Reflect notes, our ten favorite takeaways from it to think about on your next run. Click below and we’ll deliver them to your inbox!
Thank you to tracksmith, insidetracker, and Athletic Greens for sponsoring this episode.
Tracksmith is a Boston-based company that truly cares about the quality of their running clothes. Running can be demanding on our clothes; they definitely go through wear and tear to where we may be purchasing new clothes constantly. Tracksmith designers work with the finest materials and keep you in mind as a runner, with spots for your keys, phone, and fuel. You can go here to check out my favorites!
Have you not been feeling yourself lately? Gone down a lot of avenues but haven’t really found clear solutions? That is where InsideTracker can come in for you. I have trusted this company for years to show me where I may be lacking and if I need a few tweaks here and there. I count on InsideTracker to help me decipher the science behind it all.
Go here to get 25% off site wide.
AG1 is a simple and easy way to get 75 vitamins, minerals, and whole food source ingredients to help strengthen your immune system. It’s simple to make and it tastes good!
Go here to get a FREE year’s supply of Vitamin D and five FREE travel packs with your subscription.
Thanks for listening!
We know there are so many podcasts you could listen to, and we are honored you have chosen Running For Real. If you appreciate the work that we do, here are a few things you can do to support us:
- Take a screenshot of the episode, and share it with your friends, family, and community on social media, especially if you feel that the topic will resonate with them. Be sure to tag us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram
- If you are struggling through something a guest mentions, chances are others are too, and you will help them feel less alone.
- Leave an honest review on iTunes or your favorite podcast player.
- Your ratings and reviews will really help us grow and reach new people.
Not sure how to leave a review or subscribe? You can find out here.
“Thank you” to Leandrew. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show.