Category Archives: Spiritual

Guest Post: Team One Verse

Today I’m turning over the writing duties to Allison Martin.  We heard from her back in December of 2007 in a Guest Review of the St Jude Marathon. Allison started running in 2005 and slowly added on the miles, completing her third marathon in October 2008. She lives and runs in Indianapolis, works at a running store, and is going back to school to teach high school English.

In the past year, I began to learn about the need for Bible translation. While I own five Bibles, there are over 2,000 language groups around the world who don’t have the Bible in their own language. These groups represent approximately 196 million people. I’m also a runner, though not a fast one, and have completed three marathons now. (Each one a little faster thankfully!) When I learned about the great need for translation, I wanted to find a way to spread the gospel and do it by running 26.2 miles!

I learned about One Verse, an affiliate of Wycliffe Bible Translators, through a friend and reached out to them to see if there was an opportunity to start a running team to raise money for Bible translation. Amazingly, the people I spoke with caught the vision and have allowed me to work with them to start Team OneVerse!

One Verse works specifically with national speakers who begin or complete the translation process for their own people group. Guided by a team of translators around the world, the Bible is steadily being translated into every language. Team OneVerse takes the preparation, determination, and energy to run a marathon and infuses it with the ability to raise funds and awareness for this translation process.

How does it work? We’re starting with a focus on the Chicago Marathon, but any race is great. Runners around the country will train together on their own or in local groups. During their training, every person will set the goal to raise $1500, which is over 55 verses translated into a previously unreached language for $26 each (the average cost of translation as calculated by One Verse).

I want to invite you to join Team OneVerse and be part of the translation process through running. This is a chance for you to use the sport you love to build God’s kingdom and hopefully set a new PR in the process! If you’re not able to be part of the team physically, but feel a call to give and support the team as a necessary encourager, your prayers and involvement is needed. Please share with your friends about the team. Or maybe God has a place for you in the translation process. Please pray about where you can join Team OneVerse. You can learn more about the team at

Happy Running!

[tags] Team One Verse, Bible Translation, Chicago Marathon [/tags]

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Finding Your Running Life Balance

In the final chapter of Running – the Sacred Art we come full circle to the concepts laid down at the onset of this book.  I really like this George Sheehan quote Warren Kay uses to open the chapter:

Don’t be concerned if running or exercise will add years to your life, be concerned with adding life to your years.

We need to find a balance and find a way to enjoy life.  As runners running will be a large part of that enjoyment. I think running for all of us is fun and at some level we all want to improve and push ourselves to our physical limits.  Most of us need help doing that.  I thought I could train for a marathon by myself but at the last minute realized I’d be much better off taking the marathon training class offered by my running club.  That was the right choice.  Not only did I receive coaching, but I also met new people and had others to push me when I was tired and encourage me along the way.

Kay says that it is important for all runners to have a “coach”, but especially spiritual runners.  I put coach in quotes because your coach might be your running group.  I don’t think you need a specific person to coach you but having someone or a group of people to push and challenge you is vital.  I think he used the coach term because it translates better for most of us to the spiritual.  We need someone or a group of people to challenge and push us spiritualy as well as in our running.  This could be a pastor, imam, priest, or other spiritual leader.

In both the running and spiritual realms Kay thinks coaches provide three valuable things:

  1. Proper guidance
  2. Adequate support
  3. The right attitude

Just like it takes pain to become a better runner, it can take some pain and brokenness to become a more spiritual person.  Kay compares it to running up a hill, most people don’t like to do it – requiring an attitude change, you have to adjust your stride – or adjust your life to find balance, and it can be slow going – it takes patience and fortitude.

I think he ties the whole point of his book together with this final quote:

Having made contact with that pat of myself, the spiritual quest – which is the endeavor to find who I am and be truly at home with myself, to establish a healthy relationship with others, and to have a healthy relationship with God – is a natural outcome.

We runners are special and have a unique opportunity to find our way to God through our running.

The last section of the book is a list of suggested readings. I have created an Amazon collection of the books I could find in their selection.

[tags] Warren Kay, Sacred Art, Balance, Spiritual [/tags]

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Running for Pilgrimage

Tibetans on a pilgrimage to Lhasa; they are ko...
Tibetans on Pilgrimage to Lhasa; they are kow-towing every few steps.
Image via Wikipedia

I think pretty much every major religion requires some type of sacrifice. We are familiar with some of them – giving our time in service or our money as alms or charity. But for most of us I bet the sacrifice of a pilgrimage is a little more extreme or even unheard of.  For many Christians and Jews a trip to Jerusalem or a holy site in Europe is a pilgrimage, Muslims are required to visit Mecca during their life (or at least try) and many Eastern religions have holy sites as well.

Again you ask, how does this apply to running? I’ve never taken a pilgrimage and I don’t think it would be safe for me to run around any of the sacred sites I mentioned above. But combining all we have talked about so far – prayer, sanctuary, meditation, etc – pilgrimage is a major step, think of it as a spiritual quest.

As I was reading the background on pilgrimage in Running the Sacred Art, my mind started drifting to the marathon.  Yes, Warren Kay agrees with me on that and links the two!

To ensure we are all the same page, Kay defines a pilgrimage as a journey made to a sacred shrine for spiritual purposes, such as healing, blessing, prestige, camaraderie, and a source of faith.  He sees three major steps to a pilgrimage – separation from the routine, being at the shrine, and the journey home.  The following quote about pilgrimage really hit me as being similar to many of my running experiences:

You find yourself among like-minded people who are making a similar quest, and through the journey, you recognize and respond to the humanity in them. You are likely to open up easily, talk to strangers and engage them as people, even as friends. This realization of community can become so profound that you may also experience a compassion for the whole of humanity.

Does that sound familiar to you? Let me quickly highlight the comparison of a marathon (or other run) to a pilgrimage.

  1. For many the marathon is a “holy grail” to obtain.  They have a specific location they want to race it at with a purpose behind it.
  2. You go through a long process of training, sacrificing and separating yourself from others to accomplish it.
  3. You often travel to a different city for a race, meeting and interacting with other runners at the expo and pasta dinners.
  4. The level of excitement and community grows as you jam into the starting corrals.
  5. You become separated from the mere mortals (aka spectators) as you run the course.
  6. Everyone running beside you has the goal of accomplishing this 26.2 mile quest and often will help you make it if you stumble.
  7. Crossing the finish line brings ecstatic joy, even as you collapse into the waiting arms of medical personnel.
  8. You become transformed by calling yourself a marathoner.

I want to make sure I don’t take too lightly the idea of a pilgrimage because I have heard from others that it can be a profound experience.  I know in accomplishing the marathon my perspective on running and life has changed even if just a little.  Previously we talked about running as sanctuary, but sanctuary and pilgrimage are different.

Kay describes the difference simply.  A sanctuary run is like going to church – you go regularly because it is convenient.  It can be powerful but is also part of the routine.  A pilgrimage run is something more unique like visiting the tomb were Jesus was buried.  It is unique and not part of the routine. A pilgrimage run could be going back to your old stomping grounds and running an old trail or cross country course from your past, like I did over Christmas.  It was a time of remembering and reflecting, even though I didn’t necessarily intend that at the start.

Have you ever gone on a pilgrimage run?  Could your first marathon experience equate to a pilgrimage?

[tags] Warren Kay, Sacred Art of Running, Pilgrimage, Spiritual [/tags]

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Running as a Sacrament – What?

The Last Supper in Milan (1498), by Leonardo d...
Image via Wikipedia

So far in this series on the spiritual side of running we’ve talked about a lot of issues that are pretty forthright.  The next topic in Running the Sacred Art is a little harder to talk about because it has more theological underpinnings and isn’t as widely acknowledged across religious groups – sacraments.

First, lets look at Warren Kay’s definition of the sacramental thinking which occurs during a “sacramental run.”

An experiential kind of knowing that involves your heart, your emotions, even your instincts and intuition.

Sacramental runs occur when you have an intimate experience of God.  Kay’s definition of sacramental is:

When God is revealed and when we are ready and waiting the sign is received. Experiences like that are called sacramental. They are possible not only because the Divine reaches out to us, but also because we have been given the capacity – the grace, if you will – to respond. (pg 91)

I told you this was a little harder to grasp! The Christian tradition has two major sacraments – baptism and communion or the Lord’s Supper.  The Catholic church has 5 sacraments. Kay quotes St Augustine, a 5th century scholar, who defines sacraments as a “visible sign of an invisible reality.”

So what does this have to do with running? Excellent question. I think what Kay is getting at is that through running when can get a glimpse of the divine presence around us. He talks about the runner’s high and how it is something “magical” that sometimes happens while running.  It can’t be forced but it happens.

One thing he suggests is to ensure that you live a balanced life.  More than just making sure to balance work and family commitments, Kay suggests we seek balance between the spiritual and material – the body and soul.  He believes, and I think it makes sense, that when we are running we are expressing our bodies in a physical way that can open our heart and mind to the spiritual realm.

I feel this is the hardest section for me personally to grasp – what do you think? I’ve been a Christian most of my life, even attending a Christian university and the idea of the sacrament is still not something I completely understand. Let alone the connection to running. Do you have any insights??

[tags] Warren Kay, Spiritual, Sacred Art of Running, Sacraments [/tags]

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