Everyone runs in her own way, or his own way. And where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within.
Eric Liddell, Chariots of Fire
“It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” goes the old adage. Or, as my 19-year-old cheered to his fraternity brothers tonight, “It’s not a marathon, it’s a sprint.” (Ugh.)
Sometimes we have to move, and fast. Our bodies just need it. Energy begets energy, as hard as that is to believe or accept. I’ve had long periods of my life outside of the groove of exercise. (Like all four years of college.) Fun was more the focus than self-care.
On the other hand, I’ve experienced some phases of physical motivation, and I’ve seen and felt those rewards. Running, or anything invigorating, is an incredible outlet. Increased dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline are all benefits, as we know, along with cardiovascular and metabolic wellness and increased immunity. Have you ever felt like you were coming down with something, forced yourself to exercise, and felt stronger afterward?
What fascinates me is the focus and sheer will power it requires. I’ve participated in races a handful of times throughout my life: a triathlon, a 10K, a half marathon. Each time someone has encouraged me, suggesting, coaching, enabling (in the best sense of the word). And some people have inspired me, just by being.
One friend comes to mind first. She started running (like, really running) after she lost her sister as an outlet and a way to clear her head. It is her moving meditation. Call it a runner’s high or perhaps something much deeper. She set a goal a few years ago to run a half marathon in every continent. (She is well on her way.) She also encouraged me to run a half marathon a few years ago: she coached me through some of my training and ran the race with me (with a case of pneumonia, no less!).
I picture her on the trail above the Middlefork River, deep in the remote landscape of the Frank Church Wilderness, running miles ahead of our rafting group, fearlessly alone out there in the wild.
Then, there’s Steve. I don’t know Steve’s last name, but I see him most days. He is always running, plugging along. He doesn’t run very fast (in fact, his pace is just one iota above walking). He is also young. A few months ago, he and I found ourselves on the same road. As I rounded the corner, he crossed the street, and there we were, together. Not saying hello was not an option, though I was a bit intimidated to do so, as we were clearly going to be together for a decent stretch and his body language did not indicate he was interested in conversation.
So I did, and here’s what I learned, in broad strokes. Steve was a competitive runner. A very good one, I suspect. He was ranked. He had an unlikely emergency event. I believe it was an embolism and a stroke. It has affected all aspects of his life. It’s been a couple years since it happened and he’s skeptical about the trajectory of his improvement. He runs everyday, to the lake and the cemetery and home again, which is something like five miles. He runs slowly, head down, because he falls a lot. His gaze is just ahead of him because he can’t afford to look too far forward. His feet don’t work like they used to, which forces him to be present and focus on every step.
He keeps his eyes on the ground beneath him. This bystander always thought he looked like a downer. Boy, was I wrong. He inspires me. Every day, rain or shine.
Orison Swett Marden said, “The athlete trains for his race; and the mind must be put into training if one will win life’s race.”
Today, get moving! Rain or shine, sore body or not. You can figure out how to invigorate your life. And you will, if you do. Meditate on it; ask for the strength to motivate (“God help me with my unbelief” can translate to “God help me with my un-motivation!“)
Running is most certainly not the only moving meditation (if the body is old or out of shape). Walk fast enough to get a rhythm to your breathing, as that is what will get you out of your head. Bike, swim, do anything to get your heart rate up. And as you release the clutter from your mind, and create a little space in there, you may find yourself a little closer to your “power Source.”
There are many ways to get there…
The I AM Meditations by Jacob Glass
This is a day of meditation and stillness for me
Even as I go about the normal world living my life.
I take my eyes off the bigger picture and focus on each
Small sacred step as a holy action infused
With love, love, love.
~ ~ ~
What got Forrest going (not overthinking):