Saturday, June 30, 2012

Faith-Filled Running

One thing that has surprised me most about running is that I use it as a chance to pray.  As I perform the repetitive act of running, my mind is free of the usual clutter, and I can really focus on prayer.  Especially on a long run, where I have many, many miles to spend in solitude, prayer keeps my feet moving forward.

Occasionally I launch into detailed conversations with God, but most times, I just repeat a single prayer over and over as a sort of mantra.  I pray for strength to conquer the battles in my own life, and I pray for the broader social troubles in our world.  Sometimes I don't formalize it as prayer, but when I run, I always feel gratitude for the clean air, the physical and mental strength that allows me to run, and the peacefulness of the world in the early morning.

Those who hope in the Lord. . . will run and not grow weary.

I think running strengthens my soul as much as it strengthens my body. To me, running is a physical manifestation of our spiritual trials.  While running, I force my body to plod onward climbing one more hill, finishing one more mile.  Likewise, in my spiritual life, I carry on through trials and tribulations knowing that I just have to keep going; I have to sweat through the spiritual miles, trusting in God that He will see me through.  The practice of sweating through the physical miles builds spiritual as well as physical stamina and keeps me mentally capable of enduring the spiritual miles, too.

The spiritual component of running has been significant for me almost from the start.  Yet, this is probably the first time I've shared this part of my running with anyone.  When people ask what I think about during a long run, I never say that I spend much of it praying.  Instead, I say that I enjoy quiet time to think and solve the world's problems.  Why am I afraid to talk about my spiritual connection in running?  Perhaps because most people think running 10 miles is crazy enough; if I told them that I spent those miles talking to God, they'd probably send me to a loony bin.

But I don't think it's crazy.  And I think the spiritual aspect is one of the main reasons I've been so religious (pardon the pun) about sticking to my running schedule.  Running makes me stronger: mind, body, and soul.

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