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House of Michael Warren

Designer, Musician, Sculptor

Running to death

From a young age, I've always been an active person. Whether it was my parents dragging me to things, or capitulating to my friends to join a club, it hasn't always been my choice. The only physical activity ever done on my own volition is hockey.

I've been playing since I was an 8 year old whipper snapper. The leagues I played would vary but at one point I was playing hockey 7 days a week. As I got older, this number slowly dwindled down to twice a week. Needless to say, I wanted to keep my cardio up, but I had a major problem. I hate running. It's the worst.

I started running in March, typically running 6-8 miles five days a week. Yes, seriously. It was the worst. My knees and hips will never be the same. After common sense kicked in, I bumped this number down to 4 miles a day. That is where I'm at today. It's still the worst. Hopefully common sense kicks in a second time.

Running may be one of the most difficult things a human being can do. It's not just a game of physical endurance. It's a test of mental endurance. It's you versus your mind. That’s it. There is nothing else in between. You are in constant turmoil with your brain.

"Just stop. It's so easy Michael."
Yes mind, yes it is.

"This is boring Michael. Just stop"
I know!

"She’s not interested in you Michael, so stop looking her way"
Definitely true.

Nike came up with a great branding campaign to sympathize with an athlete’s mental turmoil. JUST DO IT. Well, Dan Wieden really came up with it. Most creatives know the story so for brevity: Dan Wieden founder of the advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy devised the slogan in 1988 for Nike. Was Dan thinking about the mental endurance when he devised JUST DO IT? Maybe. I'll have to call him and ask. But I do know he was thinking about a criminal.

Gary Gilmore was that criminal.

A real lowlife. Three counts of armed robbery, two counts of assault, and two counts of murder. Born in Texas, Gilmore had a depraved upbringing. The son of a magazine selling con man, who had various wives and children, Gilmore fell into petty crimes. Although he sported an IQ of 133, he never had the drive or support to finish school. On July 19, 1976 in Utah, Gilmore robbed and murdered a gas station employee, then repeated the process the next night to a motel employee. Absolutely senseless crimes.

Gilmore was sentenced to death by firing squad in Utah. On the morning of January 17, 1977, when asked if he had any final words right before his execution, Gilmore simply said, “Let’s do it.” He was the first person executed since the death penalty was reinstated in America. The media coverage was quite robust.

Fast forward 11 years, when Dan Wieden was flirting with ideas for a slogan for Nike, he remembered Gilmore’s last words and liked the “do it” part. A slight tweak and a $9.2 billion dollar slogan was born. Talk about finding inspiration in strange places.

Is the tale of Nike’s JUST DO IT a tad morbid? Sure. Is it going to stop you from buying Nike apparel? Probably not. Am I going to stop running? I hope so. Next time you’re gearing up for that run, full Nike regalia, and you’re mentally dying before you even start, tell your mind: let’s do it.

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