Why we run

Recently, I came across a video of “The Running Pastor” that inspired me to jot down a few of my own thoughts on running.

Twenty-six years ago, with the birth of my son, I started running.  Before that, I had never run more than a mile—I didn’t get it. Growing up, the only thing I really knew about running was that my father would do it on weekends, leaving early in the morning to meet some “guys” for a “run around the lakes.” For those living in Minneapolis, MN, we know what this means. For everyone else, this means running along the paved pathways around the inner city lakes of Isles, Calhoun, and Harriet. I can remember that my father always seemed refreshed and lighter when he returned from those runs.

After twenty-six years, running has taught me a great deal about “who I am” and “why we run.” However, answering this question, or explaining why we run has proved a somewhat elusive task—which is why, when I saw Tim Kemple’s documentary The Running Pastor, I thought “this is why we run.”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DieTkVMO-8k&w=560&h=315]

In the documentary, Sverri Steinholm states that even he doesn’t know why he runs, adding: “Somehow, I am driven to it [running]. The body needs it, or my soul, [or] my mind. I am driven to do it. Something almost magical.”[1]

Listening and watching Steinholm run through the elements and across the Faroe Islands landscape brings home why we run.  And I am not talking about the treadmill. Running is something that happens outside. Exercising is what takes place on a treadmill. To be outside and to run is to be part of nature, the nature of man.

So perhaps you may watch The Running Pastor and you will know why we run. It will answer the question that your spouse or friend cannot when they tell you they are going out for a run.  To run is to become part of nature and, in so doing, one learns about one’s self.  The pace, the rigor, the weather “scratching” you, allows your mind to go somewhere that no other activity allows. Running is fundamental to humans—we have been running for eons. 

So the next time a friend or spouse says “I am going for a run” know that it’s more than just keeping healthy and fit; it’s about staying centered and present with the world around you. And if you run on the treadmill, try to be adventurous and run outside, even if the weather is hard and the terrain is rough. Have a mindful purpose, even if that purpose is as simple as running. In order to provide the grounding, we all need to keep moving in life. Running can unlock the human body and psyche, awakening your higher self—propelling you forward one stride at a time.

Finally, I would ask you to stay tuned, as I will soon be announcing my new purpose—again grounded in running.

[1] The Atlantic, The Faroe Islands Runner – https://youtu.be/DieTkVMO-8k