I work out a lot, like 6-7 times a week. Weights, resistance training, and running…it’s no doubt that I’m addicted. Of all the exercises, running is by far my favorite, and if I don’t run three times a week, it shows in my mood.
I started running in high school, and the summer after I graduated I broke a vertebra in my lower back in an alcohol-related car accident. All of us in the SUV were ejected into the woods where I miraculously made it around trees to land in an ant bed. After 3 ½ weeks in the hospital and back braces for 6 months, and the doctors said no more running and to take it easy. Decades later, on afternoon strolls with my infant daughter, I decided to see what would happen by walking fast…then jogging. I started researching my injury, started strengthening muscles around it, checked it out with my chiropractor, and away I went.
For me, running fast takes concentration, because if I don’t, my mind will go 1,000 directions and I’ll get lost and off pace. I can also get distracted by different motives for running like to impress, which I see when I pick up the pace around others, or taking out my frustrations on the road. I really don’t enjoy the act of running, and during most runs, I battle with part of myself that wants to slow or go short. I want to run on the brink of cramping, and I consider it a really good run if I gag at the end. At 49, I don’t think I’m going to break my 43:49 10K best, but I’ve got to train like I can. When I run, I want it to count, and after a good run, the endorphins bring an amazing feeling of calmness and mental balance that lasts all day and makes it all worthwhile.
To focus, I concentrate only on my stride and my breathing, and in doing so, I get into a peaceful, gliding meditation. This meditative place is where I can make the best pace. Also, over time, I have found that this place is where I interact most clearly with God. It’s where I work through issues in my life, I’m most known and accepted, and all my emotions come out. Running has really helped me go deep in my thoughts and feelings and be comfortable with my existence, which has allowed me to have more peace.
This goat venture has given me lots of practice going to this place. Like when I realize that some goats at the end of their milk cycle just stop producing milk themselves, and if I don’t adjust their milking, I stress them, which increases their chances of getting sick. And managing sick goats is a real hassle and time drain. So, through meditative running, I get to kick and scream, get mad, have a fit, feel sorry for myself, blame others, and hide and all these emotions get heard and honored. It’s a big relief to let all this out and allows me to get back to thinking more clearly. Here, I also am reminded that this venture is not about succeeding at making the best operating, most efficient farm business (or money), but the success is in having a deep connection with my wife and kids’ hearts, doing life together as a family, being authentic, loving unconditionally, pursuing deep relationships, and living from a place of joy. I wish I didn’t have to be reminded of this so often.
Running and exercise have big spiritual and mental payoffs for me, and they motivate me to take on a lot of dreaded aspects of everyday life and also encourage me to make a positive impact on this world, especially my children. Like the Avetts, I dream to be able to say at the end of my life “we came for salvation, we came for family…we came to leave behind the world a better way,” and as Paul told Timothy, “I have fought a good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”
Viva the Run-