It has changed dramatically from just another way to get your cardio in. Grown and evolved by like-minded people in cities around the globe, running has become a culture. A lifestyle. Running clubs are flourishing all over the world as gathering places that celebrate diversity and strength.
In this series, in partnership with Jaybird, we speak with some of the visionaries who have created this culture, to find out why the best way to tap into the rhythm of a city is on two feet. In this edition, we hear from Knox Robinson. The former editor-in-chief of FADER magazine and current DJ, writer, and mindfulness expert founded Black Roses Run—one of New York City's most influential running crews—and here shares in his own words, what it’s like to run in the Big Apple and how he’s inspired by the energy that keeps his city moving.
Some people may find it hard to believe, but I wasn’t trying to “do” anything when my partner and I created the idea of a non-traditional running group, Black Roses NYC.
For me, I wanted to serve the new runners who joined the boom in 2011 and 2012. There was this surge of runners from unexpected backgrounds, and Black Roses gives those runners a chance to share their ideas of running and culture with New York City.
I want Black Roses to serve as a mirror to the greatest city on the planet, always pursuing that moment of beauty and transcendence.
Things change, and people change. It's important to seize each moment – seize each run.
As a runner, an active person in New York City, you have to participate and communicate with the city as if it’s a living being. It might sound silly, but we pick running routes that have a certain latent energy. We run along the waterways every chance we get. For safety and vibe levels, we’ll avoid vehicular traffic—even if it’d be cool to jump over cars. We really commune with the city—both the human dimension and natural world.
That’s one reason we love running on The High Line, an old railroad line that runs along the west side. It makes us think about the permanence of what we’re doing. The native trees and the grass that have been replanted on The High Line were once all over Manhattan. The High Line was this industrial railroad, and now it’s a park. Things change, and people change. It’s important to seize each moment—seize each run.
The city is musical, thanks to its culture.
I come from music; I was the editor-in-chief at the FADER. The city is musical, thanks to its culture. It’s an incredible hotbed of all sorts of music, from jazz and hip hop to salsa and Afro-Cuban music to amazing Indian classical music.
I don’t always listen to music on a run. There are times, like during a hard tempo run, I tune out immediate concerns of heart rate and pace and steps per minute and plug into, literally, the frequency of the city, and I get energy from that.
I’ve only recently started listening to music while I run, thanks to the improving technology. I have two types of music I’ll listen to: a Jay Electronica mixtape, or one from Mos Def where he's rapping over Marvin Gaye tracks. That stuff and then I have a playlist of spiritual vibes and astral jazz, sax with sitars and harp—Coltrane, Pharaoh Sanders, Carlos Santana. Basically, it could either be spiritual jazz or low BPM stuff like trap music. I’ve created a playlist in partnership with Jaybird that reflects my experience running through the city.
We use two guiding principles to plan our routes: We want the runs to have texture—a gritty surface to wake up the feet, like the Brooklyn Navy Yard or the off-hours of a construction site; and we want to end our runs at a really amazing restaurant that’s also a stone’s throw away from a record shop.
So, the runs are really an excuse to get that amazing fuel and to jump in a record shop and maybe pick up some new music.
Running the New York City Marathon instantly makes you a New Yorker.
I’ve run the New York City Marathon nine times. Running the marathon—the biggest in the world with more than 50,000 runners—instantly makes you a New Yorker. You feel this communion with the city, and not just physically. Running New York is this incredible experience, which may be on par with witnessing the birth of one’s children.
The weeks leading up to race day, the entire city starts to check in with the marathon. The city reaches out and salutes you. Once, finishing up a training run, this taxi cab pulled up to me, he rolls down the window, keeps my pace, and says, “Lookin’ good.”
New York City and New Yorkers respect you during marathon season. It doesn’t mean cyclists or cabbies won’t try to run you over, or your co-workers aren’t sick of hearing about your training, but you’ve got random citizens hailing you up and letting you know you’re doing an okay job and you’re going to be fine on race day.
Gold Takes Grit
Whether you’re getting ready for an event like the New York Marathon or just pushing yourself to a new PB, training takes commitment. It also takes grit to push through when things get tough, so the last thing you need is gear that holds you back.
Since 2006, runners, hikers and snowboarders have looked to Utah-based group Jaybird to give them uninhibited movement in the golden moments and the gnarly ones, too. They know the benefit of music to push potential, but having a long, loose wire connected to a device was a hindrance.
Created by athletes for athletes, the Jaybird crew wanted to feel as free as possible outdoors and set their goal to create headphones they could forget they were wearing. They created and released the first secure-fitting, sweat-proof wireless earbuds and kept innovating from there.
Working with professional runners helped them design a seamless fit that anyone could tailor to the shape of their ear and wear in complete comfort. They worked on sweat-proofing to ensure their buds could survive high-intensity training, unexpected weather, and even an occasional load in the wash. And then they tackled sound.
The Jaybird App is an immersive experience that you create and use as a personal training tool. With the app, you can customize your EQ levels for any activity, save your sound preset to your buds, and share your preset to help others find the ideal sound too.
Jaybird believes in sharing experiences and has created a 360-degree platform to support you in getting the best out of your buds. The Jaybird App continues to evolve and most recently has incorporated a Find My Buds feature, allowing you to track the last place your buds were connected.
Join The Revolution
By staying true to their roots in exploration and innovation, Jaybird has assembled an incredible team of athletes and loyal fans. Whether it’s insights found at their Running Performance Lab in Park City, Utah or online feedback from their supporters, they plan to keep innovating and delivering the best wireless sport headphones with a goal to inspire you to get outside with your music and discover your full potential.