>Judge my running

>Judgement as a form of asceticism. To judge between good/bad, profitable/unprofitable (“all things are lawful”) is a way ot leading a holy life. Always discern, always choose the better and the best. Be strategic, which is the same as being efficient – pick a goal, identify the path, and do things which will take you closer to that goal. That is strategic living. Let’s say you want to run a marathon. If you spend all your time on the couch or pumping weights you will never get there. Both results are equally worthless in light of your goal. Your goal determines the value (good/bad) of all you do.

One more thing – know your enemies so you can forgive them. Any goal will have its allies and its enemies (or a tleast detractors). This includes people you know as well as forces beyond your control, or even beyond your ken. The “enemies” of running are: distance, time, conditioning, mental strength. There is not a lot of strength required in running long distance, but a lot of mental strength. So get to know your enemies and forgive them. Forgive distance and make it your friend. Look at the space between star and finish lines as opportunities to explore, as blank pieces of paper to doodle your life energy on, the opportunity to be creative, to express being, aliveness, joy. It always amazes me when I see runners who are scowling and tense as they run. It looks painful!

Forgive, also, time. You will not always get your PR. You will not always have the time to run all you wanted. Embrace finitude. Use the opportunity to bring more value to each second. Use time to encourage you (or spook you into running faster). Play with time against distance, and distance against time. Can you reach that next mailbox (distance) before you hit 45 minutesw (time)? Can you run up this hill (distance) in less than 1 minute (time)?

Forgive conditioning. This means your body. The body is often an ass and refuses anything to do with consuming energy. But sometimes it is also Balaam’s ass and you should listen when it speaks. You have a certain body, and while you are able to remove some excess fat and increase some strength and aerobic conditioning there is a limit. You can only rise to the highest level you are capable of given your genetic-social history. When I was running my first half-marathon I realized that I could only run with my body. Now this sounds trivial and downright stupid, but to me it was a revelation. I was running with my hopes and dreams and running from my fears and humiliations (what if I pull a muscle? What if I bonk? What if I have to go pee?). But suddenly I realized that none of those things were running for me, if anything they were distracting me from the one thing that was runnign – my body. It was an incarnational moment. I ran with my body [note: by “body” I also mean mind, but mind-focused-on-activity, not mind-unfocused-daydreaming]! It was freeing, and somewhat humbling. This poor old thing! It was a moment of fragility, of recognizing mortality. And then a moment of triumph as I crossed the finish line, limping a little from a slight pull of my calf muscle, tired but elated. I did it! “We” (body and I) did it!

“We”: body, time, distance. We did it. It felt like a jubilee. All debts between these parties were forgiven.

So what is your goal? What should be your goal? What are you doing now to get you closer to your goal? What should you be doing now? What will you do soon?


About spaceloom

An urban monk, and an experienced spiritual director with a Masters in Psychology. Married with two children. Want to know me better? Read my thoughts.
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