Peace in exertion

Photo courtesy of lululemon athletica (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of lululemon athletica (Creative Commons)

It is counter-intuitive that the exertion of running long distances can be so peaceful.

I know it doesn’t make sense at all, but somehow it is one of the most peaceful things that I do.

I run in the early morning when it is still dark, which is somehow very comfortable. Granted the route I run is well lit by street lights so it’s safe, but that shroud of darkness is conducive to thinking, clearing the clutter in my brain, and prayer.

In the heat of battle during the day, I don’t always notice what’s around me, and typically focus on the current task or the next challenge or the two after that. I am preoccupied and busy pretty much nonstop during every day.

Which may be why running is so serene for me. One focus, the opportunity to let my mind wander, the chance to soak in my surroundings.

Now that spring is coming, there are birds singing. The smell of newly blooming trees and bushes hangs in the air. After a rain overnight, the air smells of sweet spring rain.

I hardly notice as it gets light most mornings until I glimpse the changing colors in the sky. Some days there’s a light veil of fog. A train wails in the distance.

Toward the end of the run, the rest of the world is starting to awaken, so I am jarred by the whoosh of traffic. My focus starts coming back to the demands of the day ahead and counting down the end of the run.

Back to the real world.

Maybe that’s where the peace comes from. Running is like stepping through a barrier into an alternate world, where the sound of my steps and the timing of my breath sets the pace. The cares of the day melt away and for just a little while, my mind can let my body take over. It’s a nice place to spend time.

I am running in the Country Music Half Marathon on April 27 with Team First Pres Franklin and Team World Vision to raise money for clean water in Haiti. Please consider supporting my efforts. Click here to donate. Thank you for your prayers and support.