Every Sunday when I’m faced with the choice of going to church or going for a run, I choose running. Because running offers me more peace of mind than church. In fact I think I encountered God more often during my runs than in church! Sometimes I see him in a beautiful sunset or in a friendly greeting from another runner.
I read somewhere that doing your Sunday morning long run may very well be more spiritual than going to church. Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest. So one might argue that going for a run is not resting. But in fact for many of us it is. Running is a way of resting our minds. Of finding ourselves again after a busy week. The repetitive movement of our running feet helps soothe our worries, and has a meditative effect. Many a runner finds answers during a (long) run.
Religious elements in running
- Runners like to come together in groups. Like religous people gather in church runners, so running groups gather in running groups.
- Once someone has become a runner and has discovered all its joys, she may feel the need to spread the word! Much like people who found God want to spread the joy. I’ld like to call this Runner’s Evangelism! I suffer from it myself.
- The word of God can be read in the bible. But runners have their own bibles too. Like Lore of Running, 4th Edition and No need for speed!
- Running has its own disciples like religion does! My favorite one is John (The Penguin) Bingham
- Like religion there’s an element of suffering in running
- Both hold a promise of enlightenment in them
- The keeping of a running diary offering insights and reflection
- Like religion running can alter your state of mind
- Dedication and devotion are elements in both religion and running
- The belief that it is good for body and soul
- Medals which cost about a dime but have great symbolic meaning. Religion is filled with symbols too
- Like going to church, going for a run can mean quiet time. Time to contemplate life and life’s big questions
Like any religion, the religion of running has its own schisms.
- Barefoot running vs. running on cushioned shoes
- Running with music vs. running without music
- Running with gadgets vs. running without music
- Running for speed vs. running for peace of mind
- Stretching before a run vs. stretching after a run
Luckily most runners are a friendly bunch, so the different groups haven’t come to blows.
And running even has its own disbelievers! Those people who say you must be crazy to go running.
I use to be one of them.
And then I found running.