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Finding faith in every step: A Catholic runner’s journey


Shutterstock I Patryk Kosmider

Daniel Esparza - published on 04/16/24

The next time you lace up your shoes, remember that you’re not just going for a run. You’re undertaking a spiritual task for yourself and your loved ones.

For many Catholics, the act of running or jogging transcends the physical. If you run outdoors, your daily stride can become a contemplative affair. If you are on a treadmill, your activity can become a meditation in motion. But whether indoors or outdoors, running can easily be a chance to find yourself, to delve deeper into your character and your faith. Of course, prayer and going to Mass are central to our spiritual lives, but perhaps unsurprisingly, running offers an interesting avenue for reflection and growth.

The Catholic faith emphasizes perseverance and overcoming challenges. St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Philippians: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Running embodies this spirit. As we push through fatigue, our bodies and determination grow stronger, reflecting the growth of our resolve. Each completed run, whether a short jog or a long-distance feat, becomes a testament to our resolve – and a reminder of God’s unwavering power sustaining us.

Running as self-denial

Just as Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights in the desert, a runner practices a form of self-denial. We renounce comfort and push beyond physical limits. This discipline reflects the concept of stewardship-caring for the body, a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). By taking care of our physical well-being, we demonstrate gratitude for God’s gift of life.

Running also cultivates focus and concentration. As we find our rhythm, repetitive thoughts fade. We eventually enter a state of mindful presence — one that we can tap into when we need to meditate and pray. The quieting of the mind we discover in running opens up to a different appreciation of the beauty of creation: the sunrise on a morning run or the changing colors of the leaves on a fall jog. Running gives us a chance to be present in the moment — a practice at the heart of Catholic teachings on attention and gratitude.

Running as an act of love

In addition, taking care of our physical health is an act of love for our families. This dimension of physical activity is oftentimes sadly forgotten, or simply discarded. But it is true that by staying active we increase our chances of living a long and healthy life, allowing us to spend more precious time with our loved ones here on Earth. This is in keeping with the Catholic value of cherishing family and fostering strong bonds. Each run becomes an investment in a future filled with shared experiences and cherished memories.

Ultimately, running becomes a metaphor for our spiritual journey. We encounter obstacles, celebrate victories, and emerge stronger with each step. It’s a way to connect with God’s creation, develop inner strength, and appreciate the gift of life we share with our families.

The next time you lace up your shoes, remember that you’re not just going for a run — you’re undertaking a spiritual task for yourself and your loved ones.

Catholic LifestyleHealth and WellnessSpiritual Life
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