It was November 1, 2015. At mile 21 of the New York City Marathon I felt a sharp pain go straight through my left foot—a pain that shot all the way to my teeth. At that point of the marathon everything hurts, so I ignored it. That sharp pain turned out to be a stress fracture in my metatarsal. Over the next two years, I would break my foot two more times while running.

These injuries had me wondering if I was Mr. Glass. After the third injury I became discouraged, and my goal of running marathons in different countries was over. Even if you’re not a pro-athlete making millions of dollars and operating at the peak of human capabilities, suffering setbacks like this can be debilitating both physically and mentally. Especially if you’re trying to get your health together. The longer the rehab, the longer the fear of re-injury takes a mental toll on you.

The only running I’ve done in the past three years has been to happy hour or Chick-fil-A. I totally gave up on my health journey and became the Blacktino version of Fat Thor. I wanted to make a change, but it was just so easy sleeping in late, eating, and drinking that it became my new norm. Despite everyone around me getting more active and living healthier lifestyles, change comes from within and I didn’t have any motivation to make a change. It became intimidating to even think about running again. 

Nike Joyride
Image via Sergio Santos

That was until I got an invite to Santa Monica, California—the birthplace of Nike's first store—to test a new technology called Joyride, a cushioning system made for rookie and reluctant runners alike. At first look, the platform reminds me of Nerds candy, but instead of 5 ounces of delicious sugar, the midsole is filled with 10,000 beads that conform to your foot and are supposed to make recovery runs or running for the first time easier.

As excited as I was to try out new tech and get rid of Fat Thor, I was equally concerned because I haven't ran in years. I was unsure what to expect in terms of the shoes and my body full of Chick-fil-A, but I set nerves aside and began to look at it as an opportunity to reset my lifestyle.

Now for the shoes:

Nike let it be known that the Joyride is designed to make running suck less and actually fun. That’s great for me since the thought of going back to running again made me feel like when you run into your ex that you love but don’t like. At first sight, the Joyride Flyknit gives me heavy Presto vibes. I’m not a fan of the launch colorway—white running shoes after a few runs got you looking like you’re straight out of The Walking Dead. But when I put the Joyride on it felt like my foot was getting a massage, which offsets the angelic colorway. What surprised me was how light the shoe is—I thought with all the cushion it would be heavier. With every step I took the Dippin Dots were conforming to my foot. After walking about a one-yard radius, I said to myself, “This might work. My confidence is rising. I’m feeling good.” 

Nike Joyride
Image via Sergio Santos

The first run back happened on a treadmill. I’ve never been a fan of treadmills because they remind me of a hamster wheel, and it's been about five years since I’ve run on one. The dashboard on the treadmill screen was covered except for the speed, so I never knew the distance while I was running. I kept it around a level four or five on the speed level and then maxed out at 8 on the last interval, which was a full-on sprint for me. Before I knew it, the run had ended and the coaches told us we ran about two miles. That boosted my confidence through the roof—I felt that I bodied it with ease. I may or may not be over exaggerating that part, but mentally I felt good despite my heavy breathing after I got off the treadmill. I’m glad the coaches had us doing intervals because that made the run a lot easier than I thought it would be after gassing myself up thinking the run was going to be hell. Half the battle when it comes to running is mental, and I basically saw it as an L before I even laced up my shoes. 

After the run, I felt I could have legit ran about another mile and would have been fine. Everything about my first run back was good—I didn’t feel like a hamster but a champion. And most importantly my foot didn’t hurt. The opportunity damn near eliminated all the excuses I had, and gave me motivation move all at once. During the run I thought my shoelace became untied; I kept getting a tapping feeling on the shoes similar when your laces are flying around when untied. I looked down the laces were good it was the beads moving around in the shoe.

Then it was time to put the Joyrides to the next test. My second run was with a big group where we did a recovery run along the Santa Monica boardwalk. During the intervals, we hit Muscle Beach where we ran circuits in the sand, which I was really hoping we wouldn’t do since I’m not a fan of getting sand in my shoes. We also climbed ropes, or other folks climbed ropes as I watched from the bottom. I’m not quite about that life yet. 

Sergio Running Joyride
Image via Nike

Running on pavement felt good, meaning I didn’t feel too much impact. With every strike on the concrete the Nerds automatically shifted to absorb the impact where I needed it. The back to back runs did catch up with me, and near the end of the second fatigue began to set in as I found myself walking more than running. The closer I got to the finish line, the further it felt— almost like I was running towards it but it was moving away from me. I ended up finishing with the last of the runners. When it was all said and done my feet felt great, I got the runners high, which will have you feeling accomplished, your mind and body are working in perfect harmony. On top of the high, I felt hopeful again. 

I got the runners high, which will have you feeling accomplished, your mind and body are working in perfect harmony. On top of the high, I felt hopeful again.

The trip ended, but the work has just begun. I plan on keeping the same energy from Santa Monica back home at least until winter hits, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. I want to become the best version of myself, starting by redownloading my running app then taking it one run at a time. Eventually getting to the point where I can do a 5K for breakfast without having to nap afterwards. Once I get to a level to where I’m comfortable, I might mess around and join a NYC run club. If the Patriots can come back from being down 28-3, my goal of running marathons in different states and countries is still achievable. 

You can cop the Joyride right now if you’re a Nike member, if you’re not then you'll have to wait until they drop on August 15 for $180.