Tag Archives: Olympic Games

Spirituality: A Running Definition

A sadhu performing namaste in Madurai, India.

Image via Wikipedia

I had hoped we were ready to move past the point of defining terms and such, but I guess we had forgotten the most important term.  This term is actually in title, no it isn’t running or art.  Confused? Well it is actually in the series title – Spirituality.  Keeping in mind that Warren Kay is a Christian, but is writing to a much broader audience I really liked his definition of spirituality.

The way you live your life in light of your beliefs and values is what I call spirituality in a general sense.

This definition actually pulls together several elements of the definition provided by Webster. It is simple and broadly applicable.  Kay comments on the spiritual experience – making it clear that it doesn’t have to be dramatic like Paul’s conversion in Acts or the Angel speaking to Mohammed but that they are “far more common… and are usually something much more down to earth.”  He says that a spiritual experience can be something as “simple as the appreciation of beauty and friendship.”  Again I would agree with his ideas about the spiritual experience.

Kay devotes several pages of Chapter Two to talking about reductionist points of view.  He offers several arguments against reductionism, including a running one. The thrust of his point is that reducing running to a simple biological activity takes away much of the experience itself.  The runner’s high – simply a biological process.  While the biology is accurate it does seem that there should be something more.  I may be a little biased by my WASP point of view but I don’t want anything reduced simply to neurons and microbes.  Every living thing was created for a purpose, every chemical reaction has a reason, including the runner’s high.

Taking a look through history Kay claims that:

Running has been an activity of necessity and enjoyment for thousands of years, and in a number of cultures, running has had a close association with spirituality and religion.

I’ll assume these are correct.  He claims that the Olympic Games were originally created as a religious ceremony.  He also talks about a group of Buddhist Monks in Japan called “Marathon Monks” who were swift and able runners taking on a 1,000 day running challenge, which is quite extraordinary, as their ultimate spiritual prize.  His final example come from the Lung-gom-pa runners of Tibet who often run 200 miles in a day and can run for 48-hours nonstop.   Either of those two groups would be quite amazing to see.

His closing thoughts for this chapter are good so I’ll go ahead and quote them here:

… running, unlike many other sports or human activities, doesn’t need external tools or devices: you have your body, and that’s all you need.

Running encourages simplicity – a principle that tends to foster spiritual growth.

This, [simplicity] in turn, helps you experience a feeling of freedom and joy when you run, a feeling that is different from anything you experience through any other purely human activity.

I can’t agree with that last point enough.  Whenever I slip off the watch and mp3 player and just go out for a run it can be a totally different experience than any other run. My run this past weekend at the Louisville Swamp is a great example of one of these moments.

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

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August Highlights

I can’t believe that it is already September.  The summer has flown by and school is getting ready to start back up.  Yikes! I think I joined with everybody else out there in throwing off my sleep schedule to watch the Olympics – including an amazing marathon performance, lots of new world records, and some great examples of the true Olympic spirit. Watching the Olympics raised the question in my mind, do I have what it takes?  Despite adding on 4 more weeks of marathon training I doubt I’ll run anywhere close to a 2:06, at least not for the full distance anyways.  Weeks 9 10 11 12 are all in the bag.  I’ve now run increased my longest run ever to about 21 miles and I’ve done the distance twice now!

When I wasn’t busy increasing my long runs I threw in some races.  I almost got a 10K PR while running the Hennepin Lakes Classic.  I managed to get a 15K PR two weeks later in the MDRA 15K.  Two weeks and a 20 miler later I set a new PR in the half-marathon distance, by a minute and a half at the Rochester Half Marathon.

I’ve been meeting and getting to know a lot of runners through a tool called Twitter.  It has been a fun way to connect and share about running and other random bit of life.  I even introduced the idea of tagging runs in Twitter so we can see each other’s better.

I am almost a 1/4 of the way to my goal for raising $2,000 to support the great work of World Vision around the world.  This month’s related posts included:

August 2008/2007 Monthly Mileage

Running – 175.5 / 123.26

Biking – 184.1 / 25.3

Swimming – 700 / 0

Last year was an eventful month as well.  I raced a few times, not doing as well as I did this year.  It was also extremely hot last year in Indiana, while my summer here in Minneapolis hasn’t been too bad! So to help deal with the heat I offered some tips to avoid the inferno. I raced a 5K and a 10K. I got a Sansa MP3 player and talked about the other “equipment” I used to run in.  This was pre-Garmin days! In the Olympic build-up year I took a look at an unusual banned substance – Caffeine. Yes, in high enough quantities, caffeine is considered illegal. A fun and popular post that I wrote was titled “Ways to Ruin Your Next Race.”

I hope you had a good August and are looking forward to fall coming!

[tags] Highlights [/tags]

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Can You Be An Olympian?

Two average guys, Dennis and Christian decided as part of the 5 in 5 Challenge that they would see how they fared against Olympic athletes in 5 different events. You can read more about it at the 5in5.com blog.

The 5 events were:

  1. 100m freestyle,
  2. 100m dash,
  3. 110m hurdles,
  4. long jump and
  5. the rings (in gymnastics)

It is a pretty neat video, so be sure to watch it.  I won’t spoil the fun, but I bet you can guess the outcome!

Finally, there is some bonus footage at their blog entry.

HT: Get Fit Slowly

[tags] Olympics, Video [/tags]

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Reflections of a 20 Mile Run

Image from stock.xchng

The first 20 miler maybe the toughest. That was the topic of discussion at the end of the run as we all stood around recovering from a nice 21 mile run.  I was the novice in the group as this was my longest run ever and everyone else has several marathons already under their belt (with some impressive times to boot!) I think we decided that the first one might be the hardest, but they never really get easier.  Not overly encouraging as we have 2 more 20 mile runs in the upcoming weeks.  But their points were well taken At this distance it is easy to have a bad day and feel it. Runs of this distance require a little more thought and preparation than an easy 10 miler.  I plan to prepare well for all of my upcoming long runs!

Preparation – We spent a pretty quiet evening at home on Friday night, eating Pasta and watching the Olympics. I can’t say I hydrated excessively, but felt pretty hydrated.  I actually woke up Saturday morning with “pre-race jitters.” I hit the bathroom several times and ate a bagel with peanut butter and half a bowl of oatmeal.  Then I hopped on my bike and rode the 2.75 miles to where we were meeting. It was a nice easy ride on a cool (low 60’s morning).

The Route

The Route

Run Time – I loaded up my shorts with a package of cola flavoredClif Shot Blok and off we went.  The plan was to take a Shot Blok every 5K.  I managed to do that and felt like that was a good mixture for most of the run. We actually did take the pace nice and slow as we started out.  We had a group of about 10 runners which was a nice size.  We started approximately at the 1.5 mile mark of the Twin Cities Marathon. We followed the course pretty accurately hitting the official water-stop around mile 3 where I picked up some CLIF SHOT Energy Gel of the Chocolate persuasion – they offered both Chocolate and Double Expresso. They did this for all the runners about a month ago.

We made some course deviations to throw in some soft trails but hit the hills along Minnehaha Parkway so we wouldn’t be surprised by them during the race. That was actually a good thing because I didn’t realize there would be any on that part of the course, so now I can plan for them. We hit them about 7 miles into our run which places them approximately in the 8-9 mile range.

Pace Chart

Pace Chart

Coming back from the turn around point I noticed on my Garmin that we were in my Marathon pace range (my goal is 7:15 so Marathon Pace runs would be between 7:30 and 7:00).  The pace chart shows us hitting 7-flat for a brief moment of time in the 9 mile range.  I wanted to stay with the group but also knew we had a long way to go still so I was willing to let them go, knowing eventually we’d catch up.  I never really got gapped by the group and had someone to run with for most of the run, which was nice!

The trails were quite crowded on our return run as many training groups were out there hitting the roads. On the return we “closed” the lakes – running around them on the opposite side so that we essentially ran around the entire thing. I started feeling bad when we got to Lake Calhoun, it had been about 5 miles since the last water stop and I was tired.  I stopped to pee real quick and caught back up to the group at a water fountain.

We then swung by the Marathon Water Stop at 17.25 already 1.25 miles farther than my longest run.  I grabbed 2 cups of water, a cup of Powerade, and ate a Chocolate Gu (I didn’t eat the first one).  I had gotten a little hungry somewhere in the early teen miles, but not the hunger that can really be satisifed while running.  I over did it at the last stop and felt it within the next mile. I was still moving along fairly well but could feel my hip flexors getting tight, my toes getting blisters, and my stomach was a little off.

I hung in there and finished at the consistent pace we had been going.  I ran the last mile pretty much by myself, with a group right in front of me and a guy behind me who later said, “My GI tract finished the run before I did.”

Reflections – Those are my thoughts from my first 20+ mile run.  Here are my take-aways:

  • Eat a bigger breakfast,
  • Don’t try to “cram” for the final miles,
  • Be consistent with nutrition on the run,
  • Steady pace throughout the run, try to avoid spiking the pace,
  • Relax and have fun!

Here is a list of my mile splits if you care! Oh, I guess I should note that my Garmin had the run at 20.5 miles but pretty much everyone agreed that it was at least 21.

  1. 9:00
  2. 8:14
  3. 8:20
  4. 8:14
  5. 8:11
  6. 8:12
  7. 8:03
  8. 7:49
  9. 7:47
  10. 8:12
  11. 7:33
  12. 7:54
  13. 8:03
  14. 7:55
  15. 7:37
  16. 8:00
  17. 8:05
  18. 7:59
  19. 8:14
  20. 8:01
  21. 3:52 (8:07 pace)

[tags] Running, 20 miles, Reflections [/tags]

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True Olympic Spirit

So far there has been a lot of great competition in the 29th Olympiad. For me this is the first Olympics where I have seen any controversy or even thought about boycotting the Olympics. Ultimately, after reading comments from both current and former Olympians about the decision I think the world has made the right choice to not boycott.

Yes, China has a lot of policies that are really messed up and harmful to many people around the world. Every country has some policies that someone would vehemently disagree with, but the Olympics are about overcoming.  Overcoming adversity to triumph.  Overcoming fear and getting personal goals.  Overcoming politics and creating peace and unity.  The theme for this year’s Olympics is One World, One Dream.

Yao Ming & Lin Hao

Yao Ming & Lin Hao

I’ll step off my soap box and highlight some great stories about the Olympics and Olympians.

1) Opening Ceremony was pretty sweet – lots of colors, emotions, and powerful stories about the flag bearers. Including the story about Lin Hao, one of the students in May’s deadly earthquake in China.  According to the reports, this little guy pulled 2 classmates out of the school building.

2) Lopez Lomong has an amazing story. He was selected by the US Olympic Team Captains to carrying the red, white, and blue into the Olympic stadium.  You probably have heard this but he was a “Lost Boy” from Sudan. He literally ran for his life to flee the terrible violence that has killed millions.  He arrived here and has built a great running reputation.

3) Sudanese Athletes are competing and trying to overcome the violence in Darfur. Training with logs, boulders, and paint cans several athletes are in contention for medals, including Abubaker Kaki Khamis in the 800m. From the Washington Post:

“We see this as an opportunity to bring us together and lift up the country,” said [Abdullah] Nyala [Sudanese 1500 meter runner], whose parents are farmers in Darfur. “We have all tribes on the team, and there is no problem.”

“I’ve got nothing to do with the government,” Nyala said. “I’m running for Sudan, I’m running for the whole country, and I’m also doing it for myself.”

4) Ryan Hall has an amazing story and I am a big fan.  I’m sure you have heard about him! Runner’s World recently did a great spread about him. As did The New Yorker. He is a solid athlete and a medal contender in the marathon.

Lots of information is available at NBC’s website. Track events start Friday, Aug 17. The USATF has a lot of information at their site as well, including a complete roster with bios about most of the athletes.  The Final Sprint has and will have more information and stories about athletes and “live coverage”. Finally, Down the Backstretch, a Minnesota focused blog has a list of some great links to follow Olympic coverage (the links focus on more than just Minnesotans!)

[tags] Olympics, Sudan, China, USATF [/tags]

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