If you know me, you know the role that running plays in my life. It’s not just a hobby or a social activity, although it is certainly both of those things. For me, running is the deepest form of meditation and reflection. Running is contemplation in action.
Running is my church, my therapy, and what challenges me
Running is my church. It is the space in which I commune with something greater than myself – Mother Nature, my Best Self, all of life. It is the space in which I express awe and gratitude for everything.
Sarah Khasawinah: “When I’m running, I feel like I’m actively expressing gratitude…sometimes I’ll sort of spread my arms out and just think, “Thank you, God. This is beautiful.”
Running is my therapy. When I am out there with nothing but my thoughts, I can process and work things out. Without distraction, I am able to focus on whatever issues I have and figure out how I can manage them.
Ashley Hicks: “The best thing for you to remember [about running] is that the blessing is outside of your comfort zone…If you stay and do what you’re comfortable with, you’ll never experience something new and incredible.”
Running is my personal challenge. Running long or hard or in a race, I push myself beyond what I think I am capable of. I get stronger physically and, more importantly, mentally.
Christina Torres: “I always used to tell people, I’m not a runner, my body could never do that. And once I did it, it was this feeling of, What else have I been hiding from [be]cause I was scared?”
Running is contemplation in action. My body moves, my mind opens, my universe expands, and I grow myself.
Running through the good and the bad
I have run through my darkest depressive episodes, because running was the only place I felt I could put my energy and let my mind roam unfettered. Running was my escape in those bleak times.
I have run through my happiest moments. My husband and I met in a track club. We got married on the beach after we ran the Beach to Bay Marathon. Running is one of our strongest bonds.
Mallary Tenore: “A lot of times, people will say that runners run away from things, but I’ve always found that I’ve been running towards something.”
I have run in silence, all alone. I have also run in crowds, surrounded by friends, competitors, and training partners.
I have run on the track, the road, and trails.
I have run in snow, sand, headwinds, and rain.
Mike Stavlund: “For me, running is an inherent good. It’s good in and of itself. It’s essentially beneficial.”
Running is contemplation in action
Recently, on a run, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, On Being. It was an episode titled Running as Spiritual Practice. I could relate to this concept of running, and I could relate to every person who spoke on this show, how he or she identified with running. The quotes in this post are their words.
Christy Marvin, “My running time is my alone time, and it is my time when I rejuvenate my mind and my body, and when I really do feel like I not only come back from my runs with what they call a runner’s high — I come back with a spiritual high as well.”
Listening to the podcast helped me articulate what running is to me. Running is contemplation in action. And, 20 years of running has stretched me, shaped me, and healed me, just as a spiritual practice should.
Running is who I am, and I am a much better person for having this practice in my life.