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Runner-Monk, Not Runner-Priest

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People know I’m a runner. They see me all shiny and sweaty at various points around town, sometimes quite far from home.

My friends and family know that I sometimes prioritize my running over everything when visiting them or when they visit me. Running keeps me sane.

Inevitably runners, new or experienced, want to talk to me about running. They want to ask me for advice. They want to tell me about their experience. Swap stories. Bond over running.

The truth is, I’m a runner-monk. I’m not a runner-priest. I’m not gonna persuade you to start running. Nor will I gush on about how important running is. I run for my own personal reasons. I’m not an advocate for everyone trying running.

That said, monks may not want chit-chat about their deepest sense of faith but they do write about it occasionally.

So here goes. Over time I’ve developed some principles I run by. None of this is advice for runners. It’s all sayings and phrases that I keep in the forefront of my mind as I run every day. So here they are.

  • Be consistent
    When starting running begin with a minimum of two weeks straight of running – preferably six weeks. The only way to get used to the rhythm of running is to do it everyday. Just pick a route and a manageable distance and stick to it for a while.
  • Remove choice from your running
    About 4 years ago I decided to establish a weekly pattern of routes and stick to it. Same route every Monday, same route every Tuesday, etc. It removed the daily decision of how far to run and where to run. It was the best running decision I’ve made.
  • Shoes are not important
    Don’t spend lots of money on shoes. Better yet, run barefoot every so often. Your feet are wonderful at this running thing. Protecting them with very controlling shoes will only harm the rest of your body.
  • Shirts are important
    I couldn’t run in Iowa without wearing something like coolmax on my upper body. Cotton absorbs and holds too much sweat.
  • It takes 30-45 minutes to be comfortable in your body
    Plan for running this amount at least twice a week. Your body will thank you with more efficient running. Running will feel easier.
  • It takes over 90 minutes to be comfortable in your head
    Plan for running this amount at least once a week. Your head will thank you.
  • Don’t make up for yesterday’s run with today’s
    Run the run you planned for today. Don’t worry about missing yesterday’s run. Don’t fret the failed runs.
  • Your breathing matters
    It was only after my wife started teaching yoga that I learned about the importance of breathing. When you are in trouble spots during a run, focus on your breathing. It’ll help get you through.
  • Plan to run forever
    If you run in Des Moines you are bound to encounter Bill on the trails at least once. Talk to him. He’s in his late 70s and can keep up with most people on the trails. Besides my dad, he’s my running inspiration.

None of this means I don’t want to talk to you about running. I do. I just want to hear what running means to you. Why do you run?


  • ML says:

    Beautifully written!!!
    I could hear and feel your heart and your wisdom.

  • Jim says:

    So well said! So wise. Makes me proud and grateful you are in the world.

    I run because it is simple. A direct relationship between effort and result.

    I run because a run is always good. It may be hard or it may be easy. But it is always good.

    I run because it reminds me that I am a physical animal and I am fully alive.

    I run because it is my spiritual practice. The rhythmic movement and breathing becomes a meditation and a prayer. I do not achieve a “runners high,” but rather a runner’s peace.

    I run because it shows me that my body can do more than my mind can believe.

    I run because it cured my depression. I run because six years ago, it saved my life.

    I run because I can.

  • […] have a running rule I’ve shared with others: “Don’t make up for yesterday’s run with today’s.” What I mean is that you need to be present in the run you are doing. If yesterday’s […]

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  1. […] have a running rule I’ve shared with others: “Don’t make up for yesterday’s run with today’s.” What I mean is that you need to be present in the run you are doing. If yesterday’s […]

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