Michael Stinson – CO CEO Black men run

There are a few runners in the community that are known as game changers or part of a group that are essentially changing the game and breaking all barriers in the running community. If you know me Jesse Spellman, I am a proud member of Black Men Run / Black Men Run NYC and if it wasn’t for Black Men Run, I could truly honestly say there would be no 9-time marathoner, there would be no growth from my younger to my older self and there would be no Mid Strike Magazine. Black Men Run continues to grow exponentially since its inception and for growth you must surround yourself with a team of like-minded individuals that are all looking to become not only successful runners but healthy black men to the people that matter the most, their families. We’ve spotlighted the founders of Black Men Run Jason Russell and Ed Walton. This issue we’re going to chat with one of the core guys of BMR Michael Stinson the CO CEO of BMR as we discuss his journey, what led him to BMR and most importantly what good health not only means to him but the black community.

MSM: We all have our beginnings and reasons for starting our fitness journeys. Some of those reasons can stem from actions that are life changing while others can simply be based on us finding fitness at an early age. Where did your journey begin and what was your reason?

MS: My fitness journey began in 2011. At that time, I was working in insurance sales. I attended a convention and the next day they were sharing pictures in the office. I saw a picture of myself from the back and was like, "Who's that fat guy?". I did not recognize how large I was. That was what prompted me to take control of my life. 

MSM: To have a very in depth understanding and viewpoint of the health of black men and the community in general which usually stems from the lessons i'm sure you’ve learned both personally and mentally. Being a member of Black Men Run, what and who have been some of the people that have helped you along the way to be a better person from both a mental and physical standpoint?

MS: I have met so many influential brothers along the way. I would be remiss if I did not mention and thank Jason Russell and Edward Walton for believing in me and giving me a chance to serve the brotherhood. 

MSM: Going to drop some stats here, 

Black-populated areas are 51% more likely to be obese compared to non-Hispanic Whites.

The leading cause of death in Black Americans is heart disease and 42% of Black people in the U.S. have high blood pressure.

Black people in the U.S. are 80% more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes.

Black Men Run continues to literally change the narrative in various communities one running chapter at a time. As you look at these numbers, what are some of the conversations that the leadership of Black Men Run has when discussing the issues within our communities. Also, what are your thoughts and sense of responsibility as a leader to create these changes?

MS: As an organization we take the health of our community very serious. When we consider initiatives and future opportunities they are always filtered through the lens of, "What will make the race car faster?". Meaning, will these things further the mission of Black Men Run and serve our community? Our focus is the overall health of a person and as such I find it important to be an example. Not an example of perfection as none of us will ever achieve that but, an example of what it means it be a Black man making healthy choices, stumbling at times but having a strong network of brothers around to pick you back up and set you on your path.

MSM: I’ve seen that at one point you tipped the scales at 246 pounds, you’re currently under 200 and that's amazing. Give our readers some insight into this journey and some of the things you’ve been doing to stay consistent and most of all keep yourself accountable.

MS: At my highest weight (June of 2020) I weighed in at 347. Currently I am hovering around 195. It was somewhat embarrassing as a leader in health organization to have allowed my weight to get that out of control. Some of the best advice I learned was that it is not about intensity, it's the consistency. Stay on course and your body will respond. I have also had to learn to embrace healthy eating. Sometimes we feel we can work out enough to counter poor food choices but, you really cannot outrun a bad diet. Posting my workout online especially on the Black Men Run page keeps me motivated because every time I post, I realize that people are paying attention to my progress and looking to see that from time to time. It motivates them and that in turn keeps me motivated. The brotherhood has been the game changer. 

MSM: Let's talk a little bit about your resume. How many races have you run, what are some of your favs and what are a few upcoming ones that you’re looking forward to running in?

MS: I have been running races sine 2012. While I have not counted how many, I know for a fact I have at least 8 half marathons, a slew of 5ks and 10ks, and one full marathon which was Chicago 2015. That one was fun because the course is flat, the city is lively and the crowd participation and support is unlike anything I have seen elsewhere. I have no major races on my horizon at this moment. 

MSM: This year is the celebration of Black Men Run and it takes place in October which is the national meet up for BMR. What are some of the events that everyone can look out for and look forward to participating in?

MS: Yes, ten years is quite the milestone, and we plan to punctuate that point in Atlanta this year. Atlanta is headquarters as that is where BMR was founded. We will have get together’s and prizes. Our corporate partners will be either attending or sending swag for all participants. Of course, it goes without saying that we will be running. The 10-year anniversary committee is still diligently working on a full itinerary of all events. I am as excited as the public. 

MSM: It takes a village to keep us accountable on the pavement but what is it that inspires you to keep going, that makes you want to be better every day?

MS: My answer may sound patent but truthfully it is my family. I have unfortunately lost peers due to their health decisions. I look at my wife and children daily and I want to be here for them for as long as this shell holds up. Though we may not be able to control all variables, our fitness is well within our ability to work on. 

MSM: Naturally as runners if we’re serious about it we progress and become better. I’m sure from your first race up to your last you’ve seen some impressive gains over the years.

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