"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lent for Unchurched Trailrunners

People are always surprised to find out that I'm a regular churchgoer (well, as regular as I get). First, I'm a scientist. Second, I'm politically liberal. Third, I'm irreverent about just about everything. That's not the description most people give churchgoers: liberal scientific jokesters.

Everyone is surprised that my favorite season is Lent. Maybe it's my contrarian nature. Most people don't understand the season and think of it as a dark, gloomy period when people give up something as if it were a New Year's resolution. I'm going to try to explain the season and how it actually applies to trail running. I'm writing this three weeks beforehand, because one really needs to ease into the season.

The whole idea is: something big's coming! It might be great, it might be awful, but it's big and you'd better be ready, so make some space in your life.

Most people's lives are cluttered with too much stuff. This is the season to clear out whatever you don't need and give it to someone who could use it. Then give just a bit more; anyone can give from their excess, but charity begins when you make a sacrifice and become just a bit uncomfortable. In these times when people are worried about finances, it's good to discover just how rich one really is.

This is the time to clear out your mind from all distractions as well. It's a time to be quiet and meditate. Eat and drink a little less, so you appreciate it more. Sleep a little less, so you appreciate it more. Talk less, fool around less, focus on what's important and remember that you're not all-important.

When you go running during Lent, don't bring headphones, a phone or even a watch. Just be part of the scenery, no more important than the mud puddle you step in and only a little more permanent. Don't fill your pockets with food or carry a water bottle; you can live without them. Enjoy the silence; if you run with others, say as little as possible, just enjoy their presence. If the weather turns bad, just accept it and finish the run you planned instead of cutting it short.

During Lent, this blog is going to be a little different. Far less random silliness will fill the screen and I hope to write things that might actually help people. Failing that, I'll just give the simple facts of my training runs. Then it'll probably be back to usual after Easter.

Something big's coming! Are you excited yet? Maybe a little run on the trails will get you ready.


Victoria said...

Cool post. I also like the bakery run idea. That appeals to the eating-obsessed AND running-obsessed sides of me. Perfect.

Welcome to the "running a long way is crazy but running with broken bones is probably crazier" club. Who knew there were so many members! (I actually broke my foot and not my ankle, but close enough...)

wildknits said...

Yeah - another churchgoing liberal scientist! We are not alone, nor are we as rare as the right would have it seem ;-> Just don't talk about it much as we get "painted" with a certain brush.

Add on to that homeschooler and I had a lot of explaining to do ;->

Nice intro to lent... tends to be an introspective time of year at my church - working on something in yourself that needs tweaking - keeps you away from god.

My brief run on trails today involved a scary slip and slide downhill. Guess I shouldn't have taken the screws out of my shoes.

SteveQ said...

One thing that I should've added was to make space in one's schedule as well. We tend to program every minute of our lives and Lent's a good time to explore unstructured time.

And for those giving something up for Lent, remember it's 40 days, not including Sundays. You only have to deny yourself 6 days at a time.

Jean said...

Very nice post, Steve. It is a good reminder to us all to take a step back and take stock in what we have. Very well said, and thanks for the reminder!