A Little Crazy Is OK (And Other Lessons From The World's Most Incomparable Runner)
This past February I returned to Miami Beach to get a bracelet. No, not a diamond bracelet for my wife (although maybe next year), but a simple rubber bracelet that marked a pretty cool accomplishment for me. With my wife and parents in tow, I met up once again with Robert “Raven” Kraft and completed two more eight-mile beach runs with the legendary streak runner: numbers twelve and thirteen.
To commemorate run number thirteen—which means I’ve now logged over 100 Raven Run miles—Raven presented me with his Run Free 100 Mile bracelet, an unpretentious momento that carries a lot of meaning and really represents the sort of soulful simplicity that makes Raven and his run so special in the first place.
In case you haven’t read any of my previous posts about Raven, he is a man who has run eight miles on Miami Beach every single day since 1975. That’s over 45 years straight without a day off! He’s run through crime waves, sickness, injury, and hurricanes. His story has been covered by ESPN, HBO Real Sports, the Wall Street Journal, and numerous other media outlets, and a few years back I happened to stumble upon a book about him (Running with Raven) at my local library. Intrigued by his story and deeply steeped in my new fitness passion, running, I vowed to show up at the 5th Street Lifeguard stand on South Beach to attempt his run the next time I was in Miami Beach. Over 3,500 people from all over the globe have become Raven Runners, and I wanted to become one, too, if I could hack it.
I followed through on that vow to complete my first Raven Run in 2018 (anyone can show up to try the run on any given day), and since then I’ve gotten to know Raven pretty well and am proud to call him a friend. If you complete his run, he gives you a nickname—mine is Overworked Mind—and after you get a taste for running with him, chances are you’ll be back.
Raven’s life and his story are totally unique, and while some people think he must be crazy to run at the same place and time every day of his life, I think that “craziness” is one of the great gifts he gives. Or rather, because of him I’ve learned that it is okay to be okay with being a little crazy, because we all are. The right kind of crazy is good.
Here are a few of the other lessons I’ve learned from Raven:
Find what makes you happy and do more of it.
Raven loves to be outdoors. He loves to run. He loves to BS with people on the beach, he loves to write country western song lyrics at two in the morning, and he loves to watch baseball. And guess what, he basically does all of these things each and every day of his life. He isn’t trying to be someone else or constantly tweak his lifestyle or goals to meet the expectations of others. His goals are to work out every day, keep his running streak alive, and maybe have his songs recorded (a goal that is actually coming to fruition as I write this). He knows what makes him happy, and he does it. No second-guessing, no changing directions, and no apologizing. No matter what else is going on in the world or in his life, he knows that at least a large part of his day will be good because he is doing what makes him happy. We can all learn from that.
Don’t care what other people think. You do you.
Raven’s life isn’t for everyone. Not everyone would forego travel to run at the same place and time each day, and not everyone would be open to meeting strangers seven days a week and running eight miles with them (no matter what sorts of personalities show up, and there have been some doozies over the years).
Truth be told, Raven looks homeless when he arrives for his run wearing his tattered black jeans and cut-off shirt, but he jokes about that and doesn’t stress! He doesn’t worry about fancy clothes or what other people think. He knows who he is, and if people take a minute to talk to him, they will actually find out that the “homeless-looking” man on the beach is pretty famous and a really nice guy who can tell you just about anything about the history of South Beach. He does his life and appreciates anyone else who is friendly and peace-loving, a great testament to the “live-and-let-live” attitude that is supposed to permeate the ocean air.
Simplify to find sanity.
Raven doesn’t have a car, or even a driver’s license. He’s never been married (although he has a longtime girlfriend, Miracle), and he doesn’t have any children. He lives in a small condo in South Beach that he purchased in the 1970’s. He still has a landline telephone with an actual answering machine, and he still sends handwritten, hand-addressed letters (I always look forward to getting something from him in the mail, always addressed to Overworked Mind.) He lives a simple life, and that is another lesson that we can all take from his story: Stop complicating life. Simplify to find sanity.
On my first run with Raven, when we were taking about how difficult it is to make decisions in life sometimes, (a personality trait that he attributes to Libras, by the way), he said something that has always stuck with me.
“Years ago I made things simpler for myself by cutting back on the decisions,” he said. “I figured that I’d no longer have to decide what to wear every day because I’d always wear black (Johnny Cash is his favorite artist), and I wouldn’t have to decide what to do every day because I’d always run.”
And many years later, that is what he does. Wear black and run. Simple.
Make fitness and getting outdoors a priority.
There are some crazy people in the world, including in Miami and Miami Beach. Not crazy in the affectionate way the term is used to describe Raven and his uniqueness, but crazy in the “unhinged, black soul, drug-or-drama addicted, I’m going to snap on you at any minute” way of people who have no God, no goals, no love, and no anchors in life. Raven has anchors in his life, namely his dedication to fitness, creativity, and the run he has created for others; and that allows him to survive and thrive in an environment that swallows up the minds and souls of others less tethered to things positive.
Physical fitness—regular exercise most days of the week—is something that is simply physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy. If you make this a priority, you will find greater hope, joy, and balance in your life.
And if your exercise can be done outdoors, all the better. We creations of God weren’t meant to stagnate indoors—in cubicles or in front of computers or phones—all day. We were made to breathe fresh air, to appreciate nature, to feel the freedom and inspiration that come from getting out of the darn house or office more often than not. We might not all have the beach and ocean as our backyard like Raven does, but we all have something: lakes, parks, rivers, a garden, etc. Use those things to your benefit.
If we work exercise and fresh air into every day, then we have just put two important pieces of wellness into place.
Consistency leads to success.
Raven is nothing if not consistent. If he says he is going to do something he does it, and he never takes a day off. Yes, he’s run every day since January 1, 1975, but he also goes to an outdoor gym before his run each day to do pushups and bar hangs. And, he has kept writing his song lyrics for decades, even though nothing brought him instant publishing success.
But it isn’t about instant success. With consistency, the success comes in some shape, sooner or later. As I said earlier, in 2017, after having been at his running streak for over four decades, Raven had a book written about him that then brought him further renown. Just last year he was hired by HBO Real Sports to narrate a biography of famed NFL running back Frank Gore, and also last year he signed a contract to record some of his country western songs and create a running podcast.
No matter what your passions and dreams are, don’t worry about overnight success. Just focus on being consistent, and the success part will come in some way, shape, or form.
I could go on and on about the lessons I’ve learned from Raven and his run over the past few years, but for today I’ll leave things here and circle back to what I said at the beginning of this post.
“It’s okay to be a little crazy, because we all are.”
Or put another way, as Doc Holiday (Val Kilmer) said to his friend Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) in the 1993 movie Tombstone, “There’s no normal life, Wyatt. There’s just life. Get on with it.”
Just focus on finding the things that work for you. Just focus on finding your best life, one day at a time, and don’t worry about the rest. Good things will come that way.
Take care until next time,
Michael Priebe is a writer and wellness coach who has studied psychology, literature, and print journalism. He holds a journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he graduated with honors, and over the years he has helped people from all over the world understand antidepressant withdrawal and benzodiazepine withdrawal and find healing in their lives. He puts out a variety of spiritually inspiring content at The Lovely Grind, and he blogs about his life at www.michaelpriebewriter.com. He invites you to find out more about his coaching here, and he hopes you'll reach out to him on Facebook and Instagram.
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