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Running While Black

Running While Black

Finding Freedom in a Sport That Wasn't Built for Us

Alison Mariella Désir
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A searing exposé on the whiteness of running, a supposedly egalitarian sport, and a call to reimagine the industry


"Runners know that running brings us to ourselves. But for Black people, the simple act of running has never been so simple. It is a declaration of the right to move through the world. If running is claiming public space, why, then, does it feel like a negotiation?"


Running saved Alison Désir's life. At rock bottom and searching for meaning and structure, Désir started marathon training, finding that it vastly improved both her physical and mental health. Yet as she became involved in the community and learned its history, she realized that the sport was largely built with white people in mind.


Running While Black draws on Désir's experience as an endurance athlete, activist, and mental health advocate to explore why the seemingly simple, human act of long distance running for exercise and health has never been truly open to Black people. Weaving historical context--from the first recreational running boom to the horrific murder of Ahmaud Arbery--together with her own story of growth in the sport, Désir unpacks how we got here and advocates for a world where everyone is free to safely experience the life-changing power of movement.


As America reckons with its history of white supremacy across major institutions, Désir argues that, as a litmus test for an inclusive society, the fitness industry has the opportunity to lead the charge--fulfilling its promise of empowerment.


Alison Mariella Désir is an endurance athlete, activist, and mental health advocate. Currently co-chair of the Running Industry Diversity Coalition and the Director of Sports Advocacy and an Athlete Advisor for Oiselle, she is the founder of Harlem Run, an NYC-based running movement, and the Run 4 All Women, an organization that has raised over $400,000 for non profits focused on social justice work. In 2018 Alison wrote the foreword for Running is My Therapy, by New York Times best-selling author Scott Douglas. In 2020, she launched the highly successful Meaning Thru Movement Tour, featuring mental health experts and fitness professionals, with a third season planned in person for 2022.


  • Publisher: ‎Portfolio (October 18, 2022)
  • Language: ‎English
  • Hardcover: ‎288 pages
  • ISBN-10: ‎059341862X
  • ISBN-13: ‎9780593418628
  • Item Weight: 1.11 pounds
  • Dimensions: ‎6 x 0.72 x 9 inches
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