Friday, July 27, 2012

Mindful Running

Did you know that Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan was variably inspired by the last words of convicted killer Gary Gilmore before he was executed by a firing squad in 1977?

It’s a piece of trivia to ignore considering how these three words now move people to action.  I haven’t learned of any catchphrase more compelling than this to propel anybody from 0 to 60 mph. You know what I mean. You want to run but are feeling lazy to get up from bed in the morning, but you just do it! You’re close to the finish line and your legs are burning in pain, but you just do it! You just don’t give yourself a darn second to analyze the situation, you just do it!

It’s a blitzkrieg of the mind that really works when you just want the run done and over with. You think  just do it! But how about a more subtle approach? Instead of a mental short circuit to do a run, how about planning out a more purposeful run? Try this. Before you run, condition your mind to receive some small pleasures along the way. During the run, be attentive and purposefully find something good, even how small, on your running path. Then, after the run, as you cool down, be thankful as you are satisfied, for getting a run in for the day.

Some people call it Mindful Running. It’s an alternative to just do it running. There are a handful of inspirational slogans that suit mindful running. Running is a journey not a destination.  There’s more to life than increasing its speed.  Stop and smell the roses. At least you can say these slogans without thinking of a firing squad.

Last weekend, I had to do a long run. My instinct as an athlete told me to just do it! But instead, I deliberately prepared to be mindful as I run. I planned my long run around other things which are just as worthwhile as covering the mileage I needed to do. Throughout the run, I would smile at every runner and passerby I meet and utter a blessing prayer. (I counted 9 people.) At every turn, I would sing a favorite song aloud as if I was singing in the shower. (Not too many turns this route. Whew!) And I also planned on remembering a number of people who requested prayers. I wrote down their names on my booklet which I tucked in my fuel belt. There were 11 of them to ponder over their prayer intentions and ask for God’s mercy and blessing on their behalf. (A mile for each of them and added one of my own in my list to pray for.)

So if you ask me how my long run was, here’s what I would say. It was awesome! I smiled at 9 strangers, I sang 6 favorite songs, and I prayed for 12 people in my list.

And speaking of prayer list, I am offering my marathon in San Francisco on July 29th for your prayer intentions. You can email me at or post it on my Facebook page or here in my blog. There is nothing more that inspires me to keep going than to remember and pray for other people.

Please pray for me, too, and God speed!

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Do you remember Jim Fixx, the consummate runner who preached about the value of exercise in the 1970's? He wrote a gospel of a running book called "The Complete Book of Running" which popularized running to the masses. Well, he died of a heart attack at the age of 52 while doing his routine run. His death created an irony of sorts which was picked up easily by the pessimist of people: If I'm going to die anyway sometime, why bother to exercise or run?

The Jim Fixx argument, as it was called, lingered in my head for the past few weeks. But thanks to a friend of  mine who helped me bust the creeping defeatist attitude in me. He knew I was struggling to get back to running. So, a few days ago he agreed to run with me. I like his company, even when not running, because he's a bundle of energy and jolliness. Nothing seems to disparage him, even my litany of negativity. He saw beyond my rambling. He encouraged me that I could gradually start over and reminded me about achieving my running goals. It was reassuring to come from somebody who has supported me so many times - when I moved houses three times, when I needed to start a garden at my school where I teach, when my wife was on treatments until the day she died. What struck me most about my friend as we talked was his indomitably positive attitude.

Then there it dawned on me was a counter reasoning to the Jim Fixx argument. Look at the bright side of life.  Be in the moment. Stay optimistic. For all you know, it was because of his exercise and running that Jim Fixx lived a full life until the age of 52.

Praying Runner to run/walk his 27th marathon
in San Francisco, CA on July 29th
Since that day I ran with my friend, I've logged in 32 miles of running. Also, I've been tracking my diet, something which went wayward the last two months, and am trying to be in "performance" shape in time for my 27th marathon in San Francisco in two weeks. My "performance" here will be nowhere close to a personal best, but so what? There comes a time.

I will run San Francisco with an optimistic heart. Set aside the mental strategy. Because in reality, I really have little control over outcomes of events. But I know can always find something good in everything.

To my readers, I still offer this run in prayer for your special intentions. If you have any prayer requests, you can post it here or email me at You can also post it at my Facebook page Feel free to "like" the page or share my page to help me reach more people in need of prayers. And most of all, please pray for me, too. God speed!

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Place of Trust

Many years ago when I first started running, a friend of mine who's an avid cross country and trail runner invited me to run the trails with him. He took me to the outskirts of a regional park just outside of the city where we live. The terrain was undulating and the paths rugged with branching twists and turns. I was trailing my friend closely for the past five miles or so when I started to get winded. I urged him to keep going as I stopped to walk and catch my breath. I turned my back to scan the area behind me to see if anybody else is around. Seeing nobody, I looked forward on the trail to find my friend but he was nowhere in sight. Breathless and unaccustomed to trail running in an unfamiliar area, I suddenly felt deserted.

Panicky and confused, the strait-laced runner in me reacted. I knew it - I shouldn't trust trail runners! I swore I would never give up my reliable routes - the paved roads that I can run on any day with my eyes closed. Before long, my friend appeared up from a distance and summoning me with his arms to come up the hill. I raised my hand in agreement but I actually wanted to wring his neck. I fussily jogged up the rocky and steep hill; but when I reached the top I was instantly transformed. There was a spectacular view of the landscape around us. My friend and I stayed there for awhile to enjoy the view to our heart's content.

It took the beauty of creation to wipe out my weariness after a difficult run. Somehow, beyond the ruggedness of the terrain; past the troughs and crests, was a wondrous sight and a place to rest. It also became a place to restore trust in my friend. He became my running buddy for a many years to come.

Right now, I see myself in a similar situation - running an unfamiliar and disorienting and perhaps lonely trail. Perhaps, we all every now and then are faced with a similar path. But let us not be discouraged because the path eventually leads to a place of trust. It's a place where I believe we are all called to go. To trust.

Where can I run from Your love?
If I climb to the heavens You are there,
If I fly to the sunrise or sail beyond the sea,
Still I find You there.
(From Psalm 139)