“And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”
I know it’s not reverent, but I still chuckle when I hear this quote. These words are from Eric Liddell, the Scottish runner and Christian missionary celebrated in the movie Chariots of Fire.
I’m no Eric Liddell, but when I run, I kind of understand where he’s coming from.
When you’re running, your body is conserving oxygen, energy, water – all the things needed to keep you alive. Your mind gets sharpened to a point, and the extraneous falls away. You notice more and less at the same time.
You focus on your breathing like a Buddhist monk two hours deep into meditation. You don’t have a choice. The breath becomes the only thing that matters when you’re deep enough into a run – the next one, and the next one after that. You depend on the gift of each breath.
You become an animal – something far more basic than your everyday self. You feel amazing, transcendent even – and you also feel desperate. You are being tested and rewarded. You sweat out your distractions, your pettiness, your greed, your insecurities.
There’s a sacred space you can only find at the speed of 6+ miles per hour by foot. And it feels something like prayer, or the pleasure of God.