Ginger With a J: Running Down Faith

See, waxing philosophical

Since I’ve been coming back from a little injury, I haven’t had an opportunity to write about getting fast. So with all this extra energy, I’ve found myself waxing philosophical lately.

Faith. I thought it was just something to have to ease pain and sorrow, a mechanism for escaping the reality of life; a life that will end. Last weekend, my mind was piqued during a poignant discussion with James. Both raised Catholic, but now having two separate viewpoints, we pushed each other’s spiritual buttons for the first time in our two and a half year relationship. We probably avoided this topic because neither of us are active participants in our beliefs. Prior to our discussion, I assumed spirituality was only for the religious or those at least believing in something.

In the past, it was just easier for me to not believe in anything without proof. I began to lose my spiritual thirst after college. However, I did spend my last semester of undergrad engulfed in a book called, Running the Spiritual Path: A Runner’s Guide to Breathing, Meditating, and Exploring the Prayerful Dimension of the Sport, by Roger D. Joslin. I remember coming back from 6-8 mile runs and highlighting quote after quote. As I started to spend more time running, I found myself feeling a certain closeness to nature. This book opened up my eyes to a new view about our existence through the movement of running. But the endorphins must have worn off soon thereafter as I stopped questioning how we all got here for the next seven years.

Until our little heart to heart.

It felt refreshing and exciting to begin questioning again. While my beliefs have not significantly changed (yet), my mind became open to the idea of faith, in its truest form. As quoted by a good friend of mine, “If faith was supposed to be logical, it would not be called faith.” After our day-long discussion, I decided to begin a new journey exploring this so-called faith. I thought it would be especially interesting to explore what faith and spirituality means for other runners as the two have certainly been known to cross over. Take Ryan Hall for example. He was heavily scrutinized by the running community when he left his coach in 2010 to be, what he called, coached by God. As comical as his approach has been to some (ok, many), I find it quite fascinating now. In this interview with Running Times Magazine, Hall provides the reader with a more detailed look into his faith and how it influences his running. If you would’ve showed me this article a month ago, I would’ve laughed hysterically. But with a giant question mark now over my head, I find it an insightful and enjoying read, one that I can store in my backpack as I embark on a new spiritual journey.

Ryan Hall praying. Image courtesy of runnersworld.com.

Google searches such as “running and meditation”, “running and religion”, or “atheist runners” returns even more information worth exploring. My mind is open to anything at this point. And I would hope that whatever path it eventually decides to take next, that it will remain open to other’s viewpoints, even if I may not agree.

As I continue on this journey with an open mind, I ask you, fellow Salty reader, what are your thoughts or beliefs? As a runner, is faith important to you?

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I write about mindfulness, mental health, and the professional sport of running with the occasional poking fun at the sport. When I am not running, I'm either helping people as a counselor or trying to make them laugh as an amateur open mic comedian.

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12 comments

  1. Great, thought provoking topic! I often use runs as a way to think/pray about those who need it. I’m not good at sitting down and praying/meditating, so maybe it meets my needs as a place where I can open up/think/pray. I also think that as we get older, we can’t help but ponder faith and spirituality all the more. Sounds to me like you are starting an interesting journey!

    1. Thanks for the feedback, misszippy! I have found some of my runs as of late to be very meditating-like! I can’t see myself sitting down, either. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  2. “If faith was supposed to be logical, it would not be called faith.”

    Exactly, and a person of faith believes so that they can see (faith supports thinking), whereas in a scientific or reasoning temper (thinking supports faith), we see so we can believe. The trouble arises when the two get reversed, I think.

  3. Unrelated to this post, thanks for scooping up The Jade Rabbit. And do see St. Ralph. You’ll cry and ball your eyes out at the end, and add the song Hallejulah (spelling?) to your ipod immediately. Well, that’s just me, but it is incredible.