Meet Steven. After an overdose in 2007, Steven came to a crossroad in his life. It was then at that moment he took off running on his journey to recovery. Literally. Now the successful co-founder of Bond Running and of Parkdale Roadrunners, he bravely speaks his truth on addiction and mental health to inspire hope and educate others that recovery is possible.
UR Enough: Tell us about Bond Running – What is your mission and what was your inspiration behind starting it?
Steven: Bond running was conceived as a hub for running culture. We operate a café, a retail space and an event space in the heart of Toronto’s Chinatown.
We’ve seen a cultural shift in running in the last few years and my connection to the running community has given me some insight into what today’s runner is looking for. From a product perspective but also from an experience perspective. We try to incorporate as many of these ideas as possible while also maintaining a contemporary aesthetic that’s free of clutter and visual distraction.
UR Enough: Besides your venture with Bond Running, you also formed the running group Parkdale Roadrunners. How has running helped you with your mental wellness?
Steven: When I started running in 2007 I was three days out of the hospital after a drug overdose. I didn’t know exactly what benefits running was going to bring to my life but I knew I needed to do something in order to change the path I was on. The thing about being a drug addict and quitting drugs is that you also have to quit all of your friends because your friends are really just drug buddies. So from 2007 to 2010 I didn’t have a lot of friends to hang out with and when we started Parkdale Roadrunners in 2010 I found my community. I found my friends, I found my family.
Running has this incredible ability to help you process information. The time spent out there on the road, whether it’s by yourself or with friends, is very meditative and your brain is actually able to work through quite a bit in the background. This allows you to be clearer in thought, less reactive and more proactive. I thought the benefits of starting running we’re going to be physical but it turned out in the end that was just a bonus. The real cherry on top are the mental benefits. I feel much more self-aware, I feel more at peace with myself and much more confident in who I am as a person and what I have to offer.
UR Enough: Along with running, what are some of your other mental wellness rituals?
Steven: My most consistent mental wellness ritual is to take time for myself. I try to take the first hour of every single day to be with myself, with my thoughts and free from distractions. I feel much better going into my day knowing that I reserved the first part of it for myself. Lately I’ve gotten into spinning at Ride Cycle Club and I’ve been spending time at Float Toronto. It’s very meditative and it’s great for your muscles and skin too so that’s a plus.
UR Enough: You have mentioned on your website that Parkdale Roadrunners and Bond Running is a crew that takes much pride in being inclusive. How can others get involved with Parkdale Roadrunners and Bond Running?
Steven: Honestly, all you’ve got to do is show up. We know how hard it is to get out the door the first time or if you’ve been off for a little while but really if you show up we will do the hard work together. It’s so much easier when you run in a group because you’ve got the support, the admiration, and the accountability of the group. Parkdale Roadrunners runs every Tuesday night from the Gladstone hotel at 8 PM and we have a ladies only group on Saturday mornings at 9 AM. At Bond we run Monday’s, Thursday’s and Friday’s at 7 PM, and we run on Saturday mornings at 10 AM.
UR Enough: What is one thing you love most about yourself?
Steven: The thing I love most about myself is my ability to be self satisfied and what I mean by that is my ability to ensure that my happiness comes from the decisions I make not the decisions that other people make for themselves that affect me. By no means am I perfect and from time to time and find myself feeling unfulfilled but I know how to take agency over it to ensure that I’m getting what I need from each day first and foremost. As a result that allows me to do more for the people around me.
UR Enough: In five words, what does the messaging and community of UR Enough mean to you?
Steven: None of us are alone.
Watch and listen to Steven speak his truth in The #UREnough Campaign, and become inspired to nurture your own mental wellness and speak your truth, too.