100 Mile March: A Running Goal

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It’s true, the feeling that you get when you run, especially when you run well, is unmatched. It’s a combination of strength and fulfillment that are difficult to explain, but are immediately recognizable once you’ve felt them.

With that being said, the idea that every run changes you couldn’t be more accurate, which is why Paige and I are taking on the challenge: to run 100 miles in the month of March.

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We’ve started simple, with four mile intervals which would put us well beyond our goal if we run every day. But that’s where taking on the task is much larger than just a run. Like the quote above, every run changes you. Yes, fitness and health are great motivators, but the consistency and dedication that are necessary to reach 100 miles in that time provide the groundwork for the change that all distance running instills.

Who knows what our next race will be, there are options all over the city year-round, and stepping outside the comfort of runDisney might not be a terrible thing. But I guess we’ll see where the challenge goes, and before you know it, we’ll have 100 miles down and we’ll be working on the next goal.

If you want to connect with us, and others participating, connect on Twitter with #FFMarchMiles led by FitFluential.

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Which Wearable: A FitTech Poll

There are a ton of options out there in wearable technology, and that number is growing exponentially by the day. Aside from the fun things like Google Glass, FitTech is exploding too; from major brands with Nike+ to upcoming debuts like OMsignal, there are a ton of options out there.

That being said, the team at Third Wave Fashion wants to know which FitTech you’re using! Head over and take the poll on their blog and weigh in with your favorite device.

Find the Poll Here!
Find the Poll Here!

Airport Assault: Road Racing at WCU

Airport Assault Road Course
Airport Assault Road Course

In a college town that consists of little more than an expanding campus and a run-of-the-mill athletic department, it’s easy to overlook the absolutely excellent events that take place.

Outside of the Valley of the Lilies Half-Marathon and 5k, and when Western alum Manteo Mitchell pulled in Olympic Silver at the London Games, there hasn’t been a ton to be proud of in terms of athletic achievement. Luckily, and thanks to a dedicated group of collegiate cyclists, Western is now set to host a three-part race weekend on Saturday and Sunday March 22 and 23.

Though I wasn’t a part of the riding community, to see this group put together a complete race experience is nothing short of exciting. It’s easy to get lost in the valley that houses Cullowhee, to forget that there are people that want to come and experience the mountains. The nine percent grade of the time trial route may not be the way most people expect to experience Cullowhee, but then again active communities like cyclists don’t always fit into the “most people” category anyway.

The races are open to collegiate riders, with registration online at USA Cycling. These races include the one mile time trial mentioned before, an 18-63 mile road race, and a 20-50 minute criterium. Distances and times will be determined by rider category, which include Collegiate M-A,B,C,D and W-A,B. Each race costs $15 to pre-register, and $18 for day-of registration.

An awards ceremony will take place on Sunday after the criterium, which should not only highlight the weekend’s top racers, but also the little-known hospitality that so many people in the WCU community are full of. With the introduction of the Airport Assault race weekend, I’m proud to say I graduated from Western, and can’t wait to see what this does for the cycling team, the university and the community as a whole.

For more information take a look at the official WCU Cycling Team page and learn more about the excellent people that are making this event happen.

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Connected Runners: Basno Digital Medals

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“Why do you run?”

That question alone is a pet peeve that nearly every runner faces on a constant basis. There are runners all over the world, from occasional joggers to elite runners that can run five minute miles for incredible distances, but the one thing they all have in common is the simple fact that they get out and do it; regardless of reason.

For many though, whether running is therapeutic or just another step toward a healthier lifestyle, there is little more that is as satisfying as a finisher’s medal at the end of the race that you trained months for. Despite blisters and lost toenails, heatstroke and hypothermia, the feeling you get as the medal is placed around your neck is unmatched.

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Unfortunately, the moment is typically short lived when it comes to sharing with friends and family. Newsfeeds fill with pictures of lunches and vacations, and within a day or two the moment disappears and the evidence of accomplishment is tucked away in a forgotten album labeled “Big Race ’13” or simply “Running.”

Luckily for the connected runners out there, Basno has developed race badges to harness the spirit of running and to share the passion for the sport that every runner has.

With digital personalization, times and names can be added to the finishing badge that every runner receives, offering a new way to connect the community and invite others in. Being in the midst of an emphasis on social engagement, the badges make it easier for runners to share their experiences and curate an online showcase of their accomplishments.

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Personally, I’m excited about the ability to store my accomplishments digitally in one place, especially considering that now just two months into 2014, I’ve already got seven finisher medals and no good way to display them online.

Ultimately, the running community is a strong one; a massive group of people that love being active and inviting outsiders to join them. In the digital world, I’m not sure what more could be done to bring such an offline community online than a way to join peers in accomplishments that nobody outside the community could ever understand.

So to answer the question of why we run, it’s because we’re runners. It’s what we do.

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End It Don’t Trend It

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In an imperfect world, there is perfect opportunity for social good that stretches across borders and unites communities the world over. The best way to spreading a message, and creating social good, is to use the channels available from Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and Pinterest.

The platforms offer access to millions of potential supporters, and that’s the beauty of the social good movement. I feel that most campaigns have the best intentions, and I fully support the End It Movement which inspired this post.

For those of you that don’t know today, February 27, has been deemed Shine a Light on Slavery Day; an effort to put an end to a $32 billion industry that has trapped 27 million people. Of that number, two children a day are added to the statistic, and regardless of culture, background or lack of government concern, the continuation of sex trafficking and slavery is unacceptable.

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But here’s where the problem lies.

There has been an incredible outpouring of support, and the use of hashtags and keyword searches can prove it, but there’s a trick to social media, and I think social good falls victim to it everyday.

Again, I support the End It Movement, but I unfortunately feel that many of the red “X’s” appearing in social media streams around the world are being used for a different reason. Yes, each “X” is one more set of people potentially influenced, but with the way the hashtag works, each person that participates is seen “doing good.”

In my opinion, that’s not enough. Yes, in theory each “X” and each hashtag puts viewers one step closer to learning more about the movement, but at the same time the hashtag gets one step closer to trending, which burgeoning social media influencers constantly struggle to stay ahead of.

What I’m trying to say is this:

Please participate in the movement to end slavery around the world, but do it because you want to end it, not trend it

Social good is a beautiful thing, but saturating social media feeds runs the risk of creating indifference about topics, and we have to ensure that the conversation continues beyond the sharing of a picture.

Do good and do it with good intentions. For more information and to see how you can contribute to the End It Movement, I encourage you to look at their website and see how you can make a difference.

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Images and information found in the End It Now Digital Toolkit.

Event Recap: Fashion Business Strategies

The business of fashion can be an overwhelming, but with the right strategies in place the startup process can run a little smoother. That was the focus Monday night at Wix Lounge thanks to sponsors GarysGuide and AlleyWatch, with excellent food and drinks from Qwiker Liquor, For The Gourmet, and Hint.

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Moderated by Dalia Strum, a digital marketing expert and FIT professor, the discussion took aim at the issues facing startups in the fashion business with advice from Becca Aronson, of Adornia, and Ashlene Nand, of Lacquerous. What was even better about the conversation was that Aronson and Nand both brought years of corporate experience to the table as well. Aronson with Lucky Magazine and Redbook, and Nand with Anvil Knitwear and a current position with Gap Global Brand Partnerships, provided insight to the startup world from both sides of the spectrum, which I believe is rarely available and accessible like it was Monday night.

After introductions, the evening turned to questions about branding, customer acquisition and retention, how to use social media, and getting your brand message to the world.

What could be more important than those things?

Determining if you should be an entrepreneur at all. Aronson and Nand seemed to agree on the importance of answering that question first, and basing it on if you want to make money and if you want to do fulfilling work.

Essentially, even if media has always been your dream job and you land it, if you’re creatively left wanting, then you have to pursue the career that will make you the happiest. It may take time to realize it, but the passion and flexibility provided from starting your own business is unmatched by a 9-5 job. If nothing else, making your own decisions and engaging an audience that’s genuinely interested in your product is a rewarding experience. In fact, that interest is where your most loyal customers can be found.

Since business is based on customers, and many of the strategies discussed revolve immediately around the topic, I think Aronson offered one of the best opinions on engaging your customers that I’ve ever heard. She said:

People don’t live in the digital world, they live in the real world.

It seems like a simple concept, something that seems so obvious it doesn’t need to be said, but when you attempt to manage the beast that is social media, understanding that real people don’t actually live online is crucial to your approach. A customer could run a Google image search if all they wanted to do was look at pictures, but that search can’t provide a way to touch the product, can’t offer a hand to shake, and certainly won’t convey the personality that your brand is built on.

That isn’t to say that social media isn’t important, but it does point to the second element that spanned the evening: how you spend your time and what you prioritize will enhance your company and your personal life. Both Nand and Aronson emphasized that you have to be willing to take care of yourself first, and at the end of the day, no matter what you’ll have to live with yourself. Prioritization from there is where the balance in customer engagement and brand growth will take root. More importantly, as your brand grows, you have to remember that some things don’t have to be done today while others don’t need to be done at all. Knowing where to draw that line will come with experience, but the quicker that understanding is developed, the more at-ease you’ll find yourself.

Ultimately, your business is your responsibility. If there was anything to glean from the discussion it was that you must be willing to step outside of your box, learn new things, and partner yourself with like-minded people that compliment your strengths and help you navigate your weaknesses. Build your team based on your needs, but developing your brand voice is like developing yourself, it won’t happen over night, but that process will shape where your brand is heading and how it needs to be positioned.

Be aggressive, be fearless, and always be yourself. You’re brand is depending on it.