I have been reading a lot about running lately. Not really the mechanics of running, although I do enjoy that kind of thing too. But more about the inner work of running. Before I started running I thought it was just about my physical self. And running is good for that, for sure. I’m not one of those super skinny runners but I can definitely feel muscles in my calves and thighs that weren’t there before I started running. I also know there are other parts of my body that have benefited from my running.
But that’s not really that interesting. I mean, who would read a book dedicated to talking about how awesome your calves get when you run? No one. What interests me about running books is what happens inside people when they run. For me, running is when I do a lot of business with myself, it’s when my weaknesses and selfish bits seem to pop up. It’s when the deep down little things that have been bothering me seem to work to the surface and demand attention.
Running is also when I do business with God. There’s nothing like a long run, especially the end of a long run, to bring you to you knees (hopefully not literally) and highlight how dependent you are on God. It seems like I have felt God’s presence in a physical way mostly when my own physical self has been tested in some way: at the birth of my children, at the side of my Jeep after flipping it in an accident, and when I’m at the edge of my limits on a run. In some ways, I think this is one reason for kneeling or participating in some other physical way when praying.
Sometimes I have tried to separate my physical self and my spiritual self. As if they were somehow apart or unconnected. But I have come to realize more and more that I am just one: body, mind, spirit. And Jesus said, in Mark 12:30, that I should “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” So that’s what I’m doing when I run.
Some running books I’ve enjoyed:
- Mile Markers by Kristin Armstrong
- What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
- 4:09:43 by Hal Higdon
- Eat & Run by Scott Jureky
- Run Like a Mother and Train Like a Mother by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Shea
Some books on the Spirit/Body connection that I’ve enjoyed:
- Every Body Matters by Gary Thomas
- Eat With Joy: Redeeming God’s Gift of Food by Rachel Marie Stone
- Made to Crave by Lisa Terkeurst
- Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist