Running to champion health and wellness in the Latino community
Run Your Own Trail supports participation of women on the trails and elevates female voices in the outdoors. Emphasizing individuality of female runners, Run Your Own Trail tells the stories of female athletes who are strong on and off the trail.
This year we partnered with Latinas Run to provide two female or female-identifying runners from Latinas Run the opportunity to attend Latinas Run Summit and tell their Run Your Own Trail story.
Launched in NYC, Latinos Run is an international organization that promotes running as way to improve physical and mental health of the Latino community. As a trailblazing running platform for latinos, Latinos Run has a global audience servicing over 25,000 runners comprised of beginners to elite athletes who are passionate about running and focused on living a healthier life. As a minority based organization, we’ve opened the door to highlight a community that largely is ignored in the health and fitness industry. Our goal is to inspire more individuals of color to change the way the fitness industry looks.
We sat down with Latinas Run founder, Maria Soles to discuss Latinas Run and what Run Your Own Trail means to her.
Ultimate Direction (UD): What was the inspiration behind Latinas Run? What’s the mission of the organization?
Marias Solis (MS): My community has always been the inspiration to why I run. When I got introduced into running as an adult, I knew I wanted to find a community that I could connect with. To connect not just my love of running, but also my culture. I knew so many women wanted a safe space for Latina runners, so I felt it was important to create one. That’s how Latinas Run was born.
UD: Can you tell us more about the Latinas Run Summit and why you created this event?
MS: After years of traveling the country and having visited nearly all 50 states, I wanted our members to have the opportunity to experience the adventures I did while running. Many of our runners come from urban areas where there is no easy access to trails and mountains and I wanted them to have that opportunity to connect with nature and experience an adventure with other like minded female runners. As an organization, we also wanted to promote trail running within our community and change the face of this sport by helping to make it more inclusive and diverse.
UD: How can the running community support or get involved with Latinas Run?
MS: There are a lot of great ways the running community can support or get involved with Latinas Run.
- Join us for an event or co-host one with us.
- Highlight our community (Either through social post or a blog).
- Consider making a donation. Funding our local chapters can help spread the word and also make running more accessible to Latinas.
UD: Can you tell us about your personal running journey? What does running mean to you?
MS: I started running at a young age. My parents would take us out for walks around a local track and to a park and I always wanted to race everyone. I realized at a young age I was fast and eventually my parents put me on soccer leagues where I would only make the teams b/c of my speed. In response to this I had in my head that I wanted to be a runner, not knowing what that even meant. During my 30’s, for my birthday my twin invited me to do a local race with her. That kicked off my desire to get back into running as an adult and I immediately joined a program to run a marathon. From the first race I started looking for a group to join, but was unable to find one that catered to Latinos, so I decided to start my own.
For me personally, running is what gets me up in the morning. I am out the door by 7 am and running gives me the energy I need to get through long work days. It is the foundation for all I do. It is a stress relief and it is also the connection to the community that I serve.
Words to describe what running means to me are: Adventure, Consistency, Endurance, Outdoors, Happiness, Dedication, and Community.
UD: What does run your own trail mean to you?
Run Your Own Trail can mean a lot of things to different people. To me it mostly means Freedom. The freedom to move and choose how fast I am going or when to stop. It’s a chance to explore. A chance to push my boundaries and make my own decisions. The opportunity to take chances. To choose my own path.Maria Solis, Latinas Run Founder
When I started my running journey, run your own trail meant something different for me. I was working a 9-5 job with limited funds and unable to travel. As I worked for years to build my organizations from the ground up, the one thing I wanted more than anything was freedom. I wanted to travel and make decisions on my own and for myself. I wanted to get in a car and meet more runners and explore more trails. I knew that I never wanted to work for someone else again. I wanted to make my own rules and I became relentless in that pursuit. Within a few years I found that freedom which gave me the opportunity to leave my employer. I would spend the last few years visiting countless cities and meeting thousands of runners along the way. I got to choose what direction I wanted to go and how long I wanted to stay. It has been one of the most liberating experiences and journey I hope to share with many.
UD: What gear is a must have when you hit the trail?
MS: Whether a trail or road, I cannot leave home without my hydration pack. After running with a fanny pack for years, I bought a hydration pack one day and it was a full game changer. Depending on where I run and the milage, I switch up my packs. For short distances I use the Marathon Vest V2 and for long distances or where I need to carry more items, I use the Ultra Vesta 5.0. In addition, I make sure to wear trail sneakers for more stability and grip and use my vest to carry my essentials especially hydration and nutrition on all my runs.
UD: What gear do you suggest someone to have when they are just starting trail running?
Most of the time when I travel, I can be outdoors sometimes for hours. So for myself I would suggest people start off with the essentials. Get a hydration vest if you will be on long trails. You can carry your hydration in a reservoir which is a great option these days. A light jacket in case the weather changes, like the Ultra Jacket from UD. Snacks, plenty of them depending on how long you might be out. I typically cary protein waffles or bars. Your phone plus a very light backup phone battery. Headphones if you need to listen to music or a podcast, but make sure you can hear your surroundings. A watch to check your pace. ID and money. Proper sneakers. I made the mistake once running in the wrong sneakers during a trail race. I spent the entire race slipping. Comfortable socks. A map of the area so you don’t get lost and so you know in advance what the terrain will be like. And last but not least, the right clothes. Always check the weather and know the area before you leave as conditions and environment may change.
Trails can be easier or more challenging depending on the runner. It’s always best to be prepared as you get started. The more comfortable you get, adjust to items you know suits you.