Monthly Archives: December 2008

Best of 2008: Race Number

Today starts the best of 2008 series. I’ll start by looking at the best race number I posted.  This is completely subjective with no real criteria! I think the TC 1 Mile wins the prize this year!

From May’s TC 1 Mile race.

Do you have a cool number? Send it to me.

Meditation During a Run?

A large statue in Bangalore depicting Shiva me...
Image via Wikipedia

When I say meditation what comes to mind? Yoga? Monks? Probably not Christianity though.  For whatever reason meditation conjures up negative ideas and feelings for many people.  But Warren Kay is willing to take a deeper look at it in his Running the Sacred Art book.

Kay sees meditation as the next step after prayer or a deeper form of prayer. Wikipedia defines it as “a mental discipline by which one attempts to get beyond the conditioned, “thinking” mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness” Kay takes it a step further by including the heart or emotions into your pondering relaxation.  He describes it more of a focusing of the mind and heart on God.

We have all gone for a run during a stressful point in time and come back from that run with stress relieved and if we are lucky – a solution to the problem.  Kay calls this anonymous meditation. We don’t necessarily intend to dwell on something but we focus on it and find clarity.  This is a good component of running and one that many runners identify as a reason for running.

Kay thinks we should take it even further.  Anonymous is good, but we occasionally need to take the time to self-reflect and look deeper inside ourselves. On page 79 he differentiates between meditation and religious meditation:

The aim of meditation is to bring enlightenment and harmony to us as human creatures – a harmony of body, mind, and spirit. . . But for all forms of religious meditation, the aim is to allow God’s presence in and with us to become the reality that gives meaning to everything that we do.

Applications of Meditative Running

One way to listen to the inside is by using Seed Mantras. This appears to be the most basic form of mantra and relies mainly on repetitive sounds. This could be deep breathing, sound of crunching leaves or gravel. Other types of mantras are using a special word or phrase to help concentrate your thoughts. This would be like Yoga where you use different mantras with different body positions and motions. The mantra should be short, easy to repeat, and meaningful to you.  When I lived in New Jersey and worked with an immigrant’s rights organization I picked up the phrase – “Si se Puede.” (wikipedia) You may be more familiar with the more recent use of the English translation – “Yes we Can.” Either way it was rythmnical and easy to repeat.  I didn’t use it a lot but would think about it sometimes while trying to establish a pace.

Meditative running is probably easy for rhythm runners like Ryan Hall, who often talks about worshiping God while running.  Here are a few mantras Kay suggests:

  • Peace to all
  • God will help
  • God is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1)

A final form of meditation is using a “divine reading.” This is using a short passage or story to guide your thinking during the run or meditation. It isn’t that you are trying to grasp the actual meaning of the words or story but that you are letting it inform and challenge you.

Obviously Kay suggests that you read something like a passage of Scripture or something from a piece of devotional literature.  He also suggests that you can read a work of philosophy or theology. But more simply you can pick a story out of the local newspaper or a magazine, letting its content soak in.  Ultimately, he says it doesn’t matter what you read, as long as you do so with a spiritual intent.

The Plan

To make it work, Kay suggests three steps for meditative running.  First choosing a mantra or divine reading to focus on during the run.  Actually running, remembering to meditate and enjoy the run.  Finally stretching and relaxing when you return.  He suggests taking some time to transition back into the normal routine through journaling or some other form of reflection.

I appreciate his reassuring point that if you choose to do meditative runs, don’t be disappointed if occasionally they are dull or boring.  This is part of life!

[tags] Warren Kay, Spiritual Art, Meditation, Running [/tags]

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Week in Review

What a busy week! Getting ready for Christmas and traveling for two weeks made for lots of stuff that needed to get done!

Monday was my rest day. I should have taken advantage of the morning and ran knowing that I’d be busy later, but oh well! I still did my push ups getting Week 5 Day 1 done.  I did the first column resulting in 81 total push ups.  I also did my core workout.

Tuesday I did a 4 mile run on the way home from work. This was along the greenway. It was 2 above! I forgot to record the wind chill but it was windy too. We also got a fresh layer of snow that was falling during my run!

Wednesday I did the downtown 3.25 mile loop and enjoyed watching the sunrise hit the downtown buildings despite the -6 wind chill.  I did a total of 100 push ups on Week 5 Day 2.  I also did my core workout.

Thursday I’m not even sure why I didn’t run.  I think I had an early meeting and actually missed breakfast.

Friday I ran 3 miles around Lake Harriet. I dropped my wife off at work and ran the very snow covered trail.  It was 18 and windy so I didn’t force myself to do anything more than one 3 mile loop around the lake! I did my 120 pushups but forgot the core workout!

Saturday was a long day of travel.  We drove through inches of falling snow, freezing rain, and finally just rain before arriving in Indianapolis for the first leg of our “vacation.”

Sunday I almost didn’t run because it sounded like it was freezing rain outside, but in reality it was just the house making weird noises and the sun was shining despite the -12 wind chill. I thought we had left those kind of temps behind so I was a little underdressed while running to Fort Harrison State Park but once I turned out of the wind it wasn’t bad.  I ran just over 6 miles, most in the park on nice trails. It was quiet and pretty empty which made for nice running. I had to hop a fence to get in and shortly after hopping back out I passed a police officer driving by.  There were big NO TRESPASSING signs, despite it being a state park. With no snow on the ground it was a nice run.

Weekly Mileage

Running – 16.5 miles

Last Year

Bike: 9.4 Mi
Swim: 400 Yd
Elliptical: 2.6 Mi
Stair Climber: 5:00

Last year I started my Best of 2007 Series. I started with my Best Personal Race Performance, Best Race Event, and a snowy Foto Friday! This was also the week I officially switched blog sites.

Running Prayers

brush drawing on blue primed paper
Image via Wikipedia

I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” (wikipedia) It is kind of a funny things to say, but the point is that under enemy fire even atheists are praying to a higher power.  Continunig to go through Warren Kay’s Spirituality of Running book, the next chapter is Prayerful Running.

What is prayer?

Wikipedia says prayer is “the act of attempting to communicate with a deity or spirit.” That is a pretty straightforward way to say it. I believe Kay would agree with that defeinition, but to make sure we are all on the same page here is how he describes it (pg 64):

Prayer, is an essential part of spirituality. It is perhaps the most important part, because we are not just thinking about God, we are not just seeing or experiencing God in some abstract or detached sense. In prayer we are in conscious communication – or as some would say, communion – with God. (emphasis original)

Prayer can be done in a plethora of different forms – quietly in your head, prostrate on ground, facing East, standing, kneeling, and on and on. It is safe to say that praying while running is best done with your eyes open! But it can be done quietly or out loud.  You may recall a friend encouraged me to pray at every mile marker during my marathon for one of my African friends.  These prayers (when I did them) were silent in my head.

Why pray?

Just as there are different ways to pray, there are a lot of different reasons to.  Kay mentions a few:

– to establish a connection to things and people that are seperate

– to bring wholeness to the one praying

– to see the world as a whole.

I would add that sometimes prayer provides you a different perspective on the thing you are praying about.

Kay compares prayer to thinking. Thinking isn’t prayer but can be close if it is a thinking “in the presence of God, or informed by our awareness of the Holy.” But it is still thinking. How can thinking be prayer?? By including all of your emotions into your thoughts, not just simply using the analytical thoughts that scramble through. Feeling about more than yourself through compassionate thinking – thinking and feeling about others. Thinking about your responsibility in the situation and being responsible with what God has given you. A final way that thinking approaches prayer is through thankful thinking. Being thankful for what you have.

Praying while running can be as easy as consciously letting your mind flow and thinking through the situations and people in your life. This is similar to any other part of your day.  If a sick friend pops into my head, I say a quick prayer for them.

But what if you want to make a concerted effort to pray while running? Kay has some interesting ideas:

  1. T-shirts – when you pass a runner look at their shirt and pray for the charity or cause (if you can tell) that the shirt is from.
  2. Buildings you pass – similar to the first if you pass a non-profit organization, church, hospital, etc. pray for it.
  3. Bumper Stickers – same as the first two!  You get the idea!
  4. Write something on your shirt during a race, when someone cheers for you, say a prayer.
  5. Use something like prayer beads/knots. This could be rosary beads or one of your own making.  Kay suggests having a list of things to pray about, number them and use a string with the same number of knots or beads.  As you run and pray move your hand down the beads saying a prayer each time.
  6. Pace band – especially in the marathon many runners wear a pace band to compare their splits at each mile. Kay suggest making a prayer band with an item to pray for at each mile.  This could be on a separate band or make notations on your pace band.
  7. Talk – this may get some weird looks but Kay suggests talking during your run as if God were running next to you and you were chit chatting about life.

Kay’s research for the book discovered that there are (oddly?) no patron saints for running, despite several references to running in the Bible. Nevertheless, he did find this prayer in Day by Day: The Notre Dame Prayerbook for Students:

Run by my side – live in my heartbeat; give strength to my steps.

As the cold confronts me, as the wind pushes me, I know you surround me.

As the sun warms me, as the rain cleanses me, I know you are touching me, challenging me, loving me.

And so I give you this run; thank you for matching my stride. Amen

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