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November Project: Creating a movement to get people moving

Posted by Chrissy Horan  November 10, 2013 11:15 AM

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At some point shortly after I moved to Boston, shortly after I started running, I learned that working out first thing in the morning was the best way for me to fit a workout into my day. With the exception of 2-3 crazy friends over the last 13 years, many of these morning workouts have been solo. Even at the gym, the crowd is thin before 6am.

Having trouble finding one person to workout with before sunrise, I would have never imagined I would find, oh, 400 or so others who had the same idea. But that’s exactly what November Project is about and why the other 400 folks were at Harvard Stadium when I showed up for the first time this past August.

November Project was started by Brogan Graham and Bojan Mandaric, pals and former college teammates looking for some motivation to stay in shape as the weather got colder, without having to spend money.

I had heard about the group about a year ago when my coworker, Renata, began attending their workouts. Here is what I knew before my first workout:

  1. Workouts are Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays at 6:30am.
  2. Mondays require running to a different location each week where the group meet to workout together and then running home. (The locations are usually more than 5 miles from home for me and don’t allow me enough time to get home and out to work, so I admit, I have yet to make it to a Monday workout).
  3. Wednesdays are sets of stairs at the Harvard Stadium.
  4. Fridays are repeats up the hill at Summit Ave.
  5. They hug a lot.
  6. They drop F-bombs a lot.

My first workout was on a 90 degree Wednesday back in mid-August. I was expecting to see a lot people at Harvard Stadium, yet I was still shocked when I got there and saw the number of people stretching, chatting, and waiting for Brogan to kick things off. There were many others who began with the “early group,” already making their way around the stadium.

Equally impressive was the number of newbies present that morning. I know because while the “big kids” started their workout, Brogan pulled all the rookies aside. After introductions and some hugs, followed by exchanges of “I’m glad you’re here,” he explained the drill. With a final “F#$% yeah!” we were set loose.

I do think a lot of the success of November Project has to do with the leadership of Brogan and Bojan, at least initially. Whether it is by rallying the “tribe” (as they refer to the group) before a workout or using social media to share stories from the morning, they have built a community that people want to be a part of.

What I thought would be one or two visits to November Project quickly changed when I completed only ½ of the 37 sections, and with uncontrollably shaky legs at that. At the very least I would be back to finish a full tour.

The competitive thing may be the biggest driver getting me to November Project. But I can’t ignore the people. SO MANY PEOPLE. I don’t have a group of friends who meet up at November Project, so no one but me really knows if I show up. That’s not the case for everyone. Whether they run every hill or stadium section together or just arrive together before taking off at separate paces, in many cases, its knowing others are there that get people to show up in the first place. However, even if I never met 399 of the 400 people in the stadium, I know when I leave my house of a cold, dark morning that I won’t be out there alone.

November Project is not just exploding in Boston, but has started up in 6 other cities in the US and Canada. They are the cover story on the December issue of Runner’s World (on newsstands and being delivered in November, of course).

Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 11.32.13 PM.png

I recently asked November Project about their response to the cover. They told me, “If someone reads about our movement and it gets them out the door one extra time... well that's a win.”

I’ve since been to at least one Wednesday or Friday November Project workout each week but one since that mid-August Wednesday. I’ve completed a max 42 stadium sections and 6 hill repeats up Summit Ave. Nobody really cares except me. But to beat those personal bests, in a setting where someone encourages me to keep going at least as many times as I swear at myself, is why I keep showing up.

This November Project is on to something.

As always, let me know what you think and what’s going on in your running community. Post comments here or email me at

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

     Chrissy Horan has been running around Boston and nearby neighborhoods since 2000. An athlete through high school and college, she has found the running community in Boston to More »

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