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Jayvon Johnson is the new executive director for GO FAR, the after-school running program founded by Robin Lindsay in 2003. He is the subject of today's Runners profile.
Wife, Shontia; son, Parker, 2
Executive director, GO FAR; hired in July
Click on the video below to hear Johnson not only describe his mission with GO FAR but to discuss a pivot for the organization going forward.
Why I run
"I run for legacy. I believe in there being a strong correlation between your health and your future. And I want to make sure that I'm around a long time for my kids, my children. My dad (James Johnson) had a rough health start; at 14 years old, he was on drugs. Got cleared from drugs at 34. But that residue from being an addict for all those years caught up with him. ... I always want to make sure that I'm able to be around for my children for years to come."
The middle miles
What I'm doing when I'm not running
"Family. Family. Yeah, yeah. Simple as that. Family."
"Since April, I've had 45 men join me collectively. But close to me is Marieno Brisbon. Sam Hall. James Anderson. Those three men keep me lifted, keep me encouraged, keep me on the right track, hold me accountable. I'm actually getting ready to respark my running club probably next month, because of those men. Those men are like, 'Hey, Jay, you gotta keep doing it. I love 'em. Other men need this.'"
"The best thing for me is this community of men who run, men of all ages, who have just dedicated their time and sacrificed their time to get back in shape. And in more ways than just physically getting in shape but mentally and spiritually and emotionally getting back in shape, not only for themselves but for their families and for their friends. That's No. 1 for me.
"My own self kudos is for me actually doing it. I ran for 110 days straight, a mile or more. I'm not necessarily a natural runner. I did track in middle school; I ran around the neighborhood. But I'm not a person that just goes out and starts running."
Where you'll find me
"Roads. I love neighborhoods and seeing stuff when I'm out. I'm getting ready to start doing trails next month, in the fall. I started out doing running in the spring and summer, so I was all neighborhood-driven. So I'm looking to actually explore some trails."
Must-have piece of gear
"Headphones. I have to listen to music. I can't do it alone. I can't just run freely. I have to have headphones."
On my playlist
"I'm a gospel buff. For me, running is therapeutic. I'm not running just to get a good burn in. I'm running because it helps clear my head, it helps me refocus, it helps me re-energize. So I listen to worship music; I listen to gospel, old and new."
What I'm streaming
"My wife and I just finished binge-watching four or five different shows. 'Clickbait' was one of them. We finished 'Manifest' last month. We just finished 'L.A.'s Finest.' And 'Money Heist' just came back on. We finished it one day."
A difficult workout
"I think it's working out, period. We added a personal trainer (Marlowe Wood), maybe two or three months into me running. He kills us every single time. But when I work out with him before I run, I have more energy, and when I work out throughout the week, I have a better breathing pattern. He's giving us full-body from minute one to minute 45. It's non-stop cycles and things of that nature. ... A full-body workout has done me wonders. It actually adds great value to me. I thought it made me more tired, but it actually helped me in my running."
"I don't eat before I run. I normally just drink a bottle water before I run and something sweet. Like a pack of Skittles, for energy purposes."
"After I run, I eat protein. It's normally like four or five pieces of turkey bacon, something like that. And two or three boiled eggs, to replace anything I might have burned out."
Click on the video to see Jayvon Johnson discuss his favorite race:
"I'm preparing myself for next spring. I'm going to find a race, probably looking to do a running club here in the area. Join one probably with Fleet Feet. I know Stevven (Anderson) has some clinics that I'll probably end up looking into for conditioning purposes. I want to make sure I have some right skills, some right behaviors and techniques down, before I throw myself into there. I'm a novice. I'm just running to run. So I want to make sure that I'm well put together before I go out on my own."
My father and his legacy
"James Johnson. Phenomenal man. My best friend. We actually named our son after him, Parker James Johnson. ... My dad passed away when I was 21 (his father was 54), and it was devastating. As I've kind of grown older, I definitely want to be sure that I put some things into implementation, to help my son be more athletic and be more active. ...
"He definitely used his story to help others. He was a functioning addict, had a job, just outstanding. Turned his life around and ended up serving the community with his story, asked and unasked. He's the mayor of my neighborhood. Every young person, every family, knew about him. ...
"He saw guys he was in the streets with and would just go up talk to them. He would see guys that could potentially be on the same track as him and just go up and talk to them. He had friends call him and say, 'Can you talk to my son,' my brother, whoever it is, and he would just do it. No formal program. It just was what was laid on his heart. I think it was his ministry. It was how God called him to be a pastor. He never had a formal type of ministry or training but was just always open to sharing his heart with other people. ...
"The funeral was packed, I mean, jam-packed to the point where people had to sit outside and put chairs in the aisles because of his impact, because of his reach. So I'm not just talking about legacy as far as what I do for my children, but also to stand on his shoulders and to be just as much of an impact to community as he was, but be able to do it longer and do it in a way that creates a sense of wellness and wholeness in other people around me. So the same way he did it, but we've just had two different stories and two different methods of reaching people."
The magic of running
"It's euphoric. If you'd have asked me at Day 10 of me running, I was like, 'I'm tired of this. Why am I doing this? This is stupid.' By Day 20, it felt organic and natural, almost as if I should be doing this. 'Why haven't I been doing this? This feels a part of my life.' ...
"I'm not a video gamer. It's hard to get out and just go play basketball: I've got to find a court and get the stuff together. But I found that running gives me a high every single time that I have not come down from."
What I've learned about myself from running
"I've become more patient. I lacked patience. I thought I was patient. I thought I was dedicated. And I thought I was willing to sacrifice something until I started running. And I realized that running has some attributes and skill sets that you develop that can really help apply to your life, but you have to hit that wall in running. And you have to hit a place when the weather's not quite the way you want it to be. And your feet hurt. ... Where you don't feel like it but you still get up and you still run. I've learned that I become more patient, more dedicated and more sacrificial through running."
Words to the wise
"For new runners, just do it. Don't worry about your pair of shoes. Don't worry about what you don't have, or the equipment that you don't have or the uniforms you don't have. Just literally get up one day and do it. And that's what happened to me in April of this year. ...
"For current runners, stick to it. ... I've seen so much great reward not only for myself personally, but for those around me because of their dedication."