By Richard Estime, Medgar Evers, College Senior
In this series, we are highlighting a handful of local residents who will be running the New York City Marathon!
If you see them on the route, be sure to give them a big hand!
Runner: Erica Steverson, 37
Erica Steverson is a sales analyst for a globally recognized health and beauty company. She is a RRCA-certified running coach who shares her passion for living a healthy, adventurous life with her clients, friends and the Bed-Stuy community. This will be her second time running the NYC Marathon. Her journey began four years ago when she ran the Bed Stuy Restoration 10K. She has run it annually since.
What motivates you to run?
I’m motivated by the commitment I made to myself to live a healthy adventurous lifestyle and to encourage people around me to do the same. Running is part of my spiritual practice. When I’m running well I feel powerful and when I’m feeling down, I go for a run. The deep breathing and sense of motion helps center myself.
Describe your journey leading up to the NYC marathon.
I’ve been running since I was in third grade when I would race friends on the block. Then I joined the track team in high school. But I quit junior year because I was dealing with the things that every teen goes through to find themselves. I gave my coach the excuse of needing more time to study but it was more than that. I carried the regret for years and more regret piled on top of it.
Four years ago I realized I needed a change. I reconnected with my passion for running through friends and my community. I signed up for Bed Stuy Restoration’s Annual 10K and trained regularly. While cheering on a friend from the sidelines, I realized how much coaching fulfilled me. In that moment I decided to be an advocate for healthy and courageous living not only for myself but also for my friends and my community. I started leading group runs with Black Girls Run. Then a friend who also runs with BGR, told me about a task force she created called BASS whose mission is to build a healthy Bed Stuy through advocating for safer streets and organized community engagement events around exercise. She invited me to lead a community run every week.
I knew I wanted to run the marathon but it wasn’t until I was introduced to Black Girls Run that I knew it was possible. I found friends who shared my goals, held me accountable, shared their knowledge and made the journey fun. My first marathon was NYC, last year. I was going through so many emotions. I couldn’t believe I was actually doing it until I heard strangers yelling my name. I cried when I saw my boyfriend and Dad at the halfway point. When I saw them after I crossed the Finish Line I just felt relief.
How did you train yourself to run a race as long as a 26 mile marathon?
Running a marathon strengthened my time management skills for sure. Also the training requires more from you both physically and mentally. I went from running three times a week at the same pace, to exercising five times a week with strength training and quality workouts that focused on challenging my comfort zone in the form of speed and increasing my mileage.
The keys to a good experience are the right training program and full commitment. For the NYC Marathon I’ve incorporated more strength training, particularly weight lifting. I really like the results: my running efficiency and my recovery has improved a lot. I started training in June for the NYC Marathon and regularly attend a gym. I’ve done about twenty races outside of Bed Stuy Restoration’s 10K including a half marathon in Niagara Falls.
I also eat nutritious food that boast my stamina and energy levels like fruits, vegetables, and salads. Before the race I have plenty of carbs like sweet potatoes and oatmeal so that my body is ready.
What advice would you give to someone interested in running the NYC marathon for the first time?
Take the next step. Find a training program that is right for you and just do it. Get out and walk for at least 45 minutes to as much as you can a day. Get your heart moving!