Run no. 43 – Running is Freedom


Distance: 4.53 miles  Time: 41’04”   (PB 38’ 28”)

It struck me today how much freedom running gives me.

There is the physical sense of freedom; particularly for those of us lucky enough to be able to run in the countryside. It is great to be able to run through an open landscape, with clear views to the horizon; a real sense of freedom.

There is another freedom running gives me. I don’t listen to music when running. This was something I could never do during the past 14 years when I lived in rural France.

There, running along narrow country roads, you were highly likely to meet farm machinery taking up the whole road and with various spikey and death-dealing implements hanging off it in all directions (sometimes even falling off it!). You had to stay alert with your ears open and be ready to move onto the verge at any moment! So I got out of the habit of listening to music, and actually I now prefer to run in silence. I find it gives me freedom to think. My mind can wander, thoughts can arise, inspiration can come, and solutions can present themselves… all because my mind is free.

There is also the freedom from interruption. The forty or so minutes that I usually run for are completely free from ‘phone calls, texts, social media updates etc. Just an ‘empty’ space in my day. Feels like freedom!

Mobiles ‘phones are great and I like much of what they enable me to do, but they are also an insidious life-controller, unless you can make the technology your servant and not your master.

I remember hearing a man say that if there is any object in your life that you couldn’t give away if God called you to do so, then you don’t own it, it owns you.

I wonder if there isn’t a similar aphorism one could create about mobile ‘phones? The other evening I was watching a film with my wife. Just before the end of the film my mobile beeped. We had had a minor family crisis during the day and a friend was emailing me with some information that might be helpful – information for me to forward to one of my sons.

I didn’t need to forward the email then and there, half an hour wouldn’t have changed anything, I could even have done it the next morning. But I picked up my ‘phone and did it straight away.

I had just finished sending the email as the final credits started to roll. After watching an hour and fifty minutes of the film, I had missed the big ending! I was somewhat mumpy!

It was no-one’s fault but my own. Although I tried hard to blame my wife! The insidious life-controlling mobile had won and had ruined my evening. Two hours I would never get back.

Which is why running, with its enforced absence from ‘phones and other ‘stuff’ is really valuable. Perhaps more so than at any time in human history as we are pushed insidiously to do more and more, without being given the times and space to consider whether it is actually worth doing in the first place.

I am more and more convinced of the spiritual value of running as I see the benefits that it brings to my life.

Keep running. Keep running with God.

Run no. 33 & 34 – One With Everything


Distance: 4.53 miles   Time: 40’12”

Time 39’ 09” New PB (Previous 39’ 39”)

Running is a primeval thing. Shortly after mankind started to walk we started to run.

Running is not just utilitarian. It doesn’t just get us from A to B faster than walking, it can also be a very natural and very pure expression of joy in living. If you want to see the reality of this walk past any Primary School at playtime! I guarantee that not one child enters the playground at a walk; rather it is an explosion of joyful exuberance in life.

Perhaps it is due to the primeval nature of running that we often feel moments of Connection when we are doing it.

  • Connection with nature, a sense of being one with the landscape we are in.
  • Connection with other runners. This is perhaps very natural and merely down to our common experience and shared enjoyment; but maybe also there is a mystical component as we Connect with our running ancestors’ and their experience of running?

This thought of Connecting reminded me of Charles Williams. He was one of the Inklings – that group of writers and poets that included J R R Tolkien and C S Lewis – all of whom are my heroes.

Charles had the distinction of being the oddest of an odd bunch! He was a poet, a novelist and a theologian.

In his theological writings ran along the raggedy edge of orthodoxy, always threatening to fall off into heresy, but always just pulling himself back (or being pulled back?) into orthodoxy.

One of his ideas chimes with my sense of the connections we make in running, it is the theology of Co-Inherence.

Co-Inherence might be defined as a sense that things exist in essential relationship with each other, and as innate components of each other.

He developed this theology from the biblical text;

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.[1]

He felt that this might have a mystical meaning beyond the natural sense of mutual support. Williams felt that people could agree to share, by mutual consent, specific physical and emotional pain.

It is an interesting idea and what parent, seeing their child suffer, would not wish that it were true; perhaps it is.

But if it is true then it is merely a further aspect of the Connection that we feel in many different situations.

And the primal act of running seems to open us up to at least some of these; which makes it rather more of a mystical act than is generally thought.

[1] Galatians 6 :2 NIVUK