Tag Archives: George Sheehan

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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Why do you Run?

Sanctuary of Oropa from Flickr

We all have different reasons for our running, but many of us run to get away from life for a short moment.  Maybe it is the routines of our life that we are trying to get away from.  When you run maybe you become a different person, soaring above the ground as a super hero or something…  Maybe when you run you can’t stop, Forest Gump style! What do all of these have in common?


Keep reading, what was the first thing that popped into your mind? Most likely it was the image of a church sanctuary or maybe a wildlife sanctuary.  What is a sanctuary? Webster gives it several definitions, but the ones I like and are the most relevant are a consecrated place or a place of refuge.

Continuing with my reading of Running – the Sacred Art, Warren Kay shares the story of Henri Nouwen, a Roman Catholic Priest and spiritual writer.  Nouwen took some time away from work deadlines to find rest at a monastery.  As his time there was ending he realized that nothing would have changed when he left so he talked to the head monk about it.  Their solution was that Nouwen needed to spend time in prayer every day (a lot of time actually, 90 minutes).  This would allow him to “create his own sanctuary in the midst of his everyday life” (pg 52).

Warren shares this story because well-known runner and author George Sheehan uses this story as an example of how running can be like finding your own sanctuary amidst the crowds and the hustle and bustle of daily life.  Running…

… is a place

… takes you out of the often mind-numbing cycle of everyday routine

… is a place you can go to regardless of where you are

… can be your sanctuary.

Kay says that “our runs can also be our sanctuary if we intentionally incorporate ritual into our routine” (pg 56). He suggests taking one run a week and making it a “sanctuary run”, do something a little different and truly focus on getting away.  He suggest making it a ritual and including these elements:

  • A special time
  • A special place
  • Music (before, during, or after)
  • Other activities (such as reading scripture, praying, or meditating)
  • Reading your journal
  • Finding a good pace (I’d call it a cruising pace)
  • Focus (on a poem, song, scripture, etc)
  • Write (after the run take some time to reflect)

That is a lot of elements to include in any given workout but I like the idea of trying to create a focused time to get away.  The biggest draw back that I see is that this might become just another routine or rut that you’ll fall into.  Running is a great form of sanctuary, but for me it is more important to occasionally shake things up and not run with my mp3 player or watch and just relax and enjoy it.

Some of my best “sanctuary runs” were unplanned and just kind of happened.  I don’t think Kay would say there is anything wrong with that but he is just offering some tips to make it easier or more likely to happen.

What do you think about “sanctuary runs”?  Or running for sanctuary??

[tags] Sacred Art, Running, Spiritual, Warren Kay, Sanctuary [/tags]

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