The Humanity of a Race


On Sunday, April 13, 2014, Raleigh hosted its first Rock & Roll® Marathon and Half Marathon races.  Raleigh’s selection by the national Rock & Roll® franchise was touted as a defining moment for the city. But as one of the more than 10,000 runners competing, what struck me most on Sunday was that the race was a collection of thousands of defining moments that spanned the spectrum of the human experience.

image(1)At 6:00am on Sunday, I walked out of my brother’s house with my dad, brother, step-sister and a close childhood friend.  We headed to the starting line, each with our own story.  My brother was the only one of us competing in the full marathon. He’s a seasoned triathlete (an Ironman finisher in 2012 even), but this was going to be the first time he’d run “just a marathon.” My friend had a very specific goal – to set a new personal record and finish in less than two hours.  My father, a Boston marathoner at age 48, was running his longest race in the last 5 years. For my stepsister and me, this was to be half marathon #2. My father and I planned to run it side-by-side. He could easily out-pace me by 2 minutes per mile, but that’s not what mattered.  See, there was a time 15 years ago – when I was overweight and struggling with my own health – that he could run faster backward than I could forward.  But on this day, we’d be finishing those 13.1 miles together.  Those were our stories.  But what struck me both as we waited for the race to begin, and throughout, was how many other significant stories surrounded us.

While we warmed up and stretched, I spotted three sisters in matching tank tops labelled “older”, “middle” and “little,” who posed as their mother snapped pictures.  Others wore t-shirts emblazoned in scripture, prepared to share their faith while they ran. Many runners had Jimmy V Foundation-sponsored bibs tacked to the back of their shirts – they were running in honor of a loved one affected by cancer. Hundreds of others dedicated their race to the memory of a loved one, with pictures and names displayed on their race shirts.  There were Ainsley’s Angels, a group of runners that would be pushing wheelchairs for the length of the race so that individuals with special needs could experience such a great event of endurance.

As the race started: more stories.  About a mile in, I read the back of an elderly man’s shirt– he was 82 years old, had competed in every single inaugural Rock & Roll® event across the country, and this one was going to be his 166th marathon.  I had to let that sink in – 166 marathons! How many miles must he have run in his life?  At that moment, I realized I couldn’t fathom how many miles all the participants had logged in preparation for this journey of 13.1 or 26.2 miles. It takes countless hours away from friends and family to prepare for such a race. Not to mention money, effort, sweat – lots of sweat. And for more than 10,000 runners, this day was the culmination of all that hard work and dedication.

Further into the race, my attention turned to those who came in support of the runners. Hundreds of policemen and women reported for duty that morning to keep participants and volunteers secure along the closed course. They were running to the aid of fallen runners when one of the many EMTs wasn’t nearby.  And speaking of EMTs, they worked tirelessly, treating everything from ankle sprains to heat exhaustion.

Then there were the volunteers.  Many were there passing out water and sports drinks, no doubt being splashed constantly.  Dozens of bands – a highlight of the Rock & Roll® events – lined the course, sharing their gifts through music.  (To the band at mile 10 who was blasting a cover of “Don’t Stop Believing” as my dad and I passed, I give you special thanks for that perfectly timed tune.)

Next up were the families, friends, and strangers cheering from the sidelines.  My stepmom, in an effort to see and cheer for us all, covered nearly as much ground as we racers did. run w dad A friend stood with her dog at a sparsely populated corner providing encouragement and snapping pictures.  One newlywed couple dressed in gown and tux held one of the many funny signs we saw – it urged us to run faster, lest we be “caught like the groom.” Residents of the Oakwood neighborhood sat in rocking chairs on their porches, sipping mimosas, taking part in their own small way.  My favorites, though, were the seasoned spectators, angels in my mind, who made a point to stand along the course’s many hills, shouting at the top of their lungs that we “could do it” and we “were almost to the top.” We runners needed to hear that, we really did.

Not all the stories were joyous ones. Near the 11th (or 24th) mile, the course was lined with American flags and pictures of fallen service men and women.  And I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the two men who inexplicably lost their lives while competing in the race.  In a day punctuated by so many precious moments, none display the fragility of life more than those two tragic losses, and my heart goes out to the families and friends of those dear men.

Thankfully, there were also beginnings and “firsts” to celebrate: the runners who achieved their first long-distance race… the couple who got engaged in front of the Raleigh Convention Center, just minutes after completing the race.  Remember my close friend, the one who wanted to finish her race in less than two hours?  She bested her goal by more than seven minutes.  And my jovial brother actually danced as he approached the finish line, stopping to kiss his wife, scoop up their baby and went on to complete the marathon with his child in his arms. At nearly six months old, she’s already crossed her first race finish line. It likely won’t be her last.

So many individuals from Raleigh, from North Carolina, and from the country, were joined together in this one event, and in the end that’s what compelled me to share the experience with you.

It mattered that 10,000 plus runners joined each other in one similar goal.  It mattered that siblings and parents and couples were running that race together.  It mattered that the service men and women of the city were keeping everyone safe.  It mattered that complete strangers were shouting words of encouragement to people they’ve never met and probably never will.  It mattered that friends were sending “good luck!” texts and that coworkers on Monday morning were asking “how was the race?!”

It matters when we set a goal and achieve it.  And it matters when we support each other – family, friends, strangers.  I’m certain that we’d all undo the race if it could somehow bring back those two precious lives, but I also take comfort in the belief that they were surrounded by such a profound display of love and support in their final hours.

My other hope in writing about the race is this: the next time there’s a race in your community – whether it’s a small 5k, a sprint triathlon, or a franchised full marathon – participate in it.  If your health (and doctor) permits it, and you have time to train – do it.  If your family, friends, church members or coworkers are competing – support them.  Wish them luck, send them prayers and blessings, stand on a street corner or the side of a hill and shout words of encouragement at them.  Make a funny sign. Volunteer and pass out water along the way or bananas and protein bars at the end. Host a spaghetti dinner at your house or your church the night before and help the runners “carb-load” before the race.cheering_flickr user Joe

Take part in whatever way you can.  Take it all in.  And remember, whatever you do, it will matter.

-Rachel Meyer

Bottom picture from Flickr user Joe, via CC

The benefits of yoga


After having been away from my exercise routine for several months, I’m at a point where I’m ready to get back to the gym.  My body and brain are making it loud and clear that it’s time.

When I think of exercise, images of treadmills, weight machines, and spinning bikes come to mind because that’s what has always been part of my routine.  But in the background, I hear the faint voices of friends (and some pastors, too) urging me to give yoga a try.  To be honest, I’ve never really thought of yoga as exercise and have been skeptical of people who rely on it for their primary source of aerobic and strength training.BodyOnYoga

I came across this infographic on the Eat Smart Move More Weigh Less blog and followed the link to the Huffington post article where it originated.  It was fascinating to see how many parts of the mind and body are impacted by yoga and to read about some of the emerging research to support these claims.  (Click on the image at right to see a larger view and to read the article).

I’m searching for something to fulfill a mind-body need, and I think throwing yoga into the mix of my regular workouts might be just the thing.  If you are a yoga fan, what have you found to be its greatest benefit?

Katie Huffman

10 Things I Want My Daughter to Know About Working Out


4627134131_95949d83af_oBrynn Harrington, of the wellness blog Wellfesto, recently wrote a post that resonated with me about what messages we pass on to our children about health and well-being. She starts by telling the story about being in an exercise class and having the teacher tell the class to picture themselves fitting into “that dress.” For Brynn, this is NOT the reason she works out, and not the message she wants her young daughter to internalize about her body.  She then goes on to write ten things she DOES want her daughter to know about working out:

“I want her to grow up knowing that…

  1. Strength equals self-sufficiency.  Being strong – particularly as a woman – is empowering.  It will feel good someday to be able to carry your own luggage down the stairs if the airport escalator is broken, and it will be important to have a solid shot at outrunning a stranger should you meet one a dark alley.
  2. Fitness opens doors.  Being healthy and fit can help you see the world differently.  The planet looks different from a bike or a pair of skis than it does from a car or an airplane.  Out in the elements you have the time and space to notice details and meet people and remember smells and bugs and mud and rain and the feeling of warm sunshine on your face.  And those are the moments that make up your life.
  3. The bike is the new golf course.  Being fit may help you get a seat at the table.  Networking is no longer restricted to the golf course, and the stronger you are – and the more people you can hang with on the road and trail – the more people you’ll meet.
  4. Exercise is a lifestyle, not an event.  Being an active person isn’t about taking a class three times a week at the gym.  It’s about things like biking to the grocery store and parking your car in the back of the lot and walking instead of taking a cab and catching up with friends on a hiking trail instead of a bar stool.
  5. Health begets health.  Healthy behavior inspires healthy behavior.  Exercise.  Healthy eating.  Solid sleep.  Positive relationships.  These things are all related.
  6. Endorphins help you cope.  A good sweat session can clear the slate.  You will have days when nothing seems to go right…when you’re dizzy with frustration or crying in despair.  A workout can often turn things around.
  7. Working out signals hard-working.  The discipline required to work out on a regular basis signals success.  Someone recently told me they are way more likely to hire marathon runners and mountain climbers because of the level of commitment that goes into those pursuits.
  8. If you feel beautiful, you look beautiful.  Looking beautiful starts on the inside.  And being fit and strong feels beautiful.
  9. Nature rules.  And if you’re able to hike/run/bike/swim/ski/snowshoe, you can see more of it.
  10. Little eyes are always watching.  We learn from each other.  You may have a daughter—or a niece or a neighbor or a friend – one day.  And that little girl will be watching and listening to everything she you say and do.  What messages do you want her to hear?”

She concludes: “I’ll never talk to my daughter about fitting into THAT DRESS.  But I will talk to her about what it sounds like to hear pine needles crunching under my feet and what it feels like to cross a finish line and how special it is to see the world on foot.  I will talk to her about hard work and self sufficiency.  I will teach her the joy of working out by showing her I love it.  And I’ll leave the rest up to her.”  Read the whole post here.

What are the reasons YOU work out and what messages do you want to pass along to your children and grandchildren about health and exercise?  Try making a list and see what you come up with.  You might even surprise yourself.

Caren Swanson

Image by flickr user Saurabh_B via Creative Commons.

Rev. Dan Gobble: Success With Naturally Slim


This is a guest post by Rev. Dan Gobble, pastor of Providence UMC in Salisbury, NC. It was originally featured in Naturally Slim’s newsletter and is reprinted with permission.  

All Spirited Life participants have had the opportunity to participate in Naturally Slim, and pastors still receiving services (Group 3) will have an final opportunity to enroll in 2014. 

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I recently turned 50 years old. At my annual physical in 2012, my doctor told me, “Dan, it wouldn’t hurt you to go hungry once in a while.” At that time I weighed around 240 pounds. I knew he was right. There is a BMI chart on the wall beside the scales in his office. I knew that, for my height, I was way over my ideal weight, almost in the morbidly obese category. I was frustrated because I wanted to do something about my weight, but I didn’t have confidence in what I knew about weight loss.

Dan collageIn the meantime, my employer, the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church began a program to help clergy better manage their health. Being a pastor is a high stress job, and clergy often have problems dealing with the stress that comes with it. As a result, they often experience weight gain and develop markers for metabolic syndrome like, high blood pressure, high or out of balance cholesterol, and even diabetes, which affect their health and quality life. Since entering the ministry in 2002, I have gained about 45 to 50 pounds. Over the years, my doctor had put me on blood pressure and cholesterol medicine. I was also borderline diabetic. When he told me at my last physical that it wouldn’t hurt me to lose weight, I finally RESOLVED that I would DO something about it. When the church offered the Naturally Slim program as a possible way to help us manage some of our healthcare concerns through weight loss, I jumped at the chance.

I had always been skeptical of diets and weight loss programs because I saw how folks struggled to sustain the results over the long haul. The thing that attracted me to this program was the overall common sense wisdom and the well-organized approach. This program looked like something I could incorporate into my lifestyle by making some “doable” changes. When I tried to lose weight in the past, I had no real success because I had no real understanding of how my body deals with food. Naturally Slim explains how our bodies and food interact and then Naturally Slim gave me a straightforward, workable plan for losing weight that made sense, and which is backed up by nutritional and medical facts. For example, after following the Naturally Slim plan for just a few weeks, I realized that I didn’t need to eat in the morning. I had been a big cereal eater for years, but it was more out of habit than a true need for fuel. Now I have some H-2-Orange in the mornings, plus some coffee, and I can enjoy food when my body needs it later in the day. This cut out a lot of unnecessary food on a daily basis.

Another facet of the program which really helped me lose weight was cutting out the sweets and high sugar foods (especially the constant snacking and grazing on sugary foods). Lowering my food intake, and learning the importance of eating slowly gave me a winning strategy for weight loss. The final component of the program that I found helpful was the pedometer that Naturally Slim sent in the starter package. It made me become more intentional about walking around the neighborhood and working to get a minimum number of steps in each day. As a footnote, I have now walked over 1,000 miles since April of 2013. I’ve always wanted to do more running and jogging. I am happy to say that I can now run a 5K (something that was impossible prior to the weight loss). I also enjoy an active lifestyle, including walking with my wife and our dog, running, and riding my bicycle.

I never really thought I would come close to attaining these results at this point in my life. I thought there was no other option for me but being overweight and in declining health for the rest of my life. But Naturally Slim has helped me reverse some negative trends in my health. At my last physical in June, my doctor took me off blood pressure and cholesterol medicine. I’m at the recommended BMI for my weight & height. I’m wearing the size clothes I wore when I was in my early 20s! I look and feel so much better and I have a much better self-image (I took my shirt off and body surfed the waves at the beach this summer, without being self-conscious about my appearance). My family is really proud of my weight loss. I get asked on a regular basis to reveal my secret. I tell everyone who will listen, “If you’re really interested in losing weight, then you need to check out Naturally Slim”. I’m a believer!


Since Dan started the program in late March of 2013, he has lost 63 pounds.  At that time he weighed 233. He now weighs 170 pounds.  His waist has been reduced 10 inches from 44 inches in March of 2013 down to 34 inches in Oct 2013. He also reports that he is off all medication to control his cholesterol, and all cholesterol numbers have improved to the point that they are better than they were when he took the medication to keep them under control. 

How Walking May Lower Risk For Breast Cancer


Any regular reader of this blog knows that we champion the benefits of walking frequently. Well, not to be a broken record, but there may be one more reason to lace up those walking shoes and head out the door–breast cancer.  A study from the University of Minnesota, written up in the New York Times, found some encouraging links between walking and a decrease in breast cancer rates.  From the article:

Exercise, by altering the ratio of estrogen metabolites and also reducing total body fat, may change the internal makeup of a woman’s body and make it harder for breast cancer to take hold.

But, of course, exercise, is not a panacea. Some of the women in Dr. Patel’s study who dutifully walked every day developed breast cancer. Many who rarely if ever exercised did not.

“There is still a very great deal that we don’t know” about how cancer of any kind starts or why it doesn’t, Dr. Patel said.

“But physical activity, and especially walking, are so simple and so accessible to most women,” she continued. “And statistically, they do seem to reduce breast cancer risk. So why not?”


As stated, exercise of any kind, and walking in particular, is not a sure protection against cancer.  But if it consistently lowers cancer rates, than that is one more great reason to move!  What motivates you to exercise?

Caren Swanson

Image by flickr user Temari 09

Pairing Motivation


Making time to exercise regularly is difficult, especially when other commitments begin to mount. In my work with Spirited Life participants and in my own efforts to make fitness a priority, few strategies have been more successful than pairing motivation. The concept is simple: in order to increase your motivation to exercise, you pair the activity with some other source of motivation. It sounds elementary, but it can be highly effective.

For one pastor I worked with, the early morning was his only time available for exercise, but a morning person he was not. We tried various techniques to raise his motivation, all to no avail, and then he had the revelation to try paring his time in the gym with one of his favorite hobbies: reading political thrillers. He began listening to audiobooks while he worked out on the elliptical machine at the gym, and in no time, he found himself awake and alert in the morning, no longer negotiating how he might sleep more. His first thought was, “I wonder what will happen next to Jack Ryan?”

Another pastor had similar success with exercise after pairing motivation. She had been struggling to set and maintaining a walking routine until we discovered the power of her love for music. Once she converted her walking time to worship time–singing along to praise and worship music from her audio player–she had no problems creating this habit. She had a new practice that nourished her body and her soul.


There are all sorts of motivations that can be tacked on to exercise: getting some fresh air, exploring a new neighborhood, listening to a favorite preacher, watching reality TV on a tablet, spending time with a friend, praying over a community, or paying attention to creation’s beauty. I’m much more motivated to put on my running shoes when it’s to spend time with my wife (on a run) than to go on a run (with my wife).

So get creative, pair your exercise with something way more interesting than…ugh… exercise, and share your attempts in our comments.

–Tommy Grimm

Image by flickr user John Carleton, via Creative Commons.

To Bike or Run?


As we head toward fall, many people who gave up exercising outside in the heat of the summer are getting ready to lace up their running shoes or pump up their bike tires. Recently, on the New York Times Well blog, a reader asked if either biking or running are superior forms of fitness from a weight loss perspective. The conclusion of the response is that it depends on the individual. In terms of calorie-burning, you expend more calories by running for an hour than you do by biking for the same amount of time:

Someone weighing 150 pounds who runs at a brisk seven minutes per mile will incinerate about 1,000 calories per hour. That same person pedaling at a steady 16 to 19 miles per hour will burn about 850 calories. Meanwhile, walking requires far fewer calories, only about 360 per hour at a four-mile-per-hour pace.


That being said, running isn’t for everyone.

Running has a downside: Injuries are common. Biking, meanwhile, is gentler. “Cycling is a nonweight bearing activity, so it is better for your knees and joints,” Dr. Tanaka said, “and it does not cause much muscle soreness.” Walking, likewise, results in few injuries, unless, like me, you are almost comically clumsy.

The most important thing, when considering taking up a new exercise, is to find something that you enjoy. As we move toward cooler autumn days, try different activities that get your heart rate up, and see what is the most fun for you. Remember, the best exercise for YOU is the one that you actually do!  Any activity is better than none!

–Caren Swanson

Image by flickr user Ed Yourdan, via Creative Commons.

Pastor’s Reflection: The Best Walk of My Life


The following post is by Spirited Life pastor Matt Smith, who serves as the Associate Pastor at Guilford College United Methodist Church in Greensboro, where he paces himself on runs of moderate distances.  A version of this story appeared in the Crossroads Chronicle.

Matt w. Green STole 2In each of the last three years, I have run in Western Carolina University’s Valley of the Lilies Half-Marathon. This year, for the first time, I wasn’t able to run that whole distance. On a seemingly endless hill, my calves got as tight as bowstrings, and I was forced to walk the last two miles. It may have been because I started too quickly or because I ate too little or (more likely) due to my inadequate training. I was disappointed, but my disappointment didn’t last long.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHaving never walked much on Western’s campus, I had never realized how beautiful it is. I learned why the event is called “Valley of the Lilies” as I enjoyed the hundreds of white and yellow blooms lining the path. I encouraged the other runners as they passed me. I savored an energy bar. My feet were no longer racing, but my mind was. As someone who was gearing up for a new appointment, I thought about how it felt like my best running in this area is behind me.

My mild disappointment at my performance lead me to question other areas of my life where my efforts come in fits and spurts. In terms of my health: wouldn’t it be better for my health to commit to running three miles every other day throughout the year, rather than gearing up for such a long run annually? In terms of my motivations: in running so far this one day, was I just trying to prove something to myself or to others?

In terms of my work: hadn’t some of my most heroic efforts to do something novel and exciting fallen flat? In terms of discipleship: is it better to read a whole book of the Bible in one sitting or read a chapter every day? Maybe that’s why Eugene Peterson calls discipleship “a long obedience in the same direction.”

In a funny way, facing the answers to these questions wasn’t demoralizing but freeing. I beamed as I crossed the finish line, having been reminded that my worth doesn’t lie in my pushing myself to my limits or beyond them. It’s not our backbreaking toil, after all, but abiding in Jesus that enables us to bear great fruit.

Image by flickr user Jason A. Samfield, via Creative Commons.

The Contest of Faith and the Christian Athlete: Reflections on Hebrews 11:29-12:2


Welcome to the seventh in a special summer series of guest posts featuring lectionary-based reflections on health. We offer these reflections in the hope that in the coming weeks, you’ll consider the lectionary readings in a new light — one of health and wholeness. We will post the reflections on Wednesdays, a week and a half prior to the Sundays on which the readings fall.

Our sixth guest post is by J. Warren Smith, reflecting on Hebrews 11:29-12:2.* 

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As a teacher of early Christian history, I often hear students who have an introductory knowledge of the early Church pose two criticisms of the Church Fathers. First, they feel that the early Christians disregard the literal meaning of Scripture and instead focus on the spiritual meaning of the passage. The second criticism is that the Church Fathers have a dualistic view of the soul and the body and so denigrate the body and glorify the soul.

Yet when we, as modern Christians, read in Hebrews the comparison of Christian life to an athlete running a race, we are the ones who are quick to offer a spiritual interpretation. We see the image of the race as mere metaphor, so we interpret the advice about “laying aside every weight and sin which clings close” not as instructions concerning the bodily disciplines, but the spiritual ones. We tell ourselves, “It simply means that we must eliminate any form of sin, any excessive or inappropriate love of anything other than God.”

At a profound level, that is true. But by spiritualizing the metaphor of the runner in the race, we fail to take seriously the relationship between disciplines for the soul and disciplines for the body. We do not see that because the soul and body are united, the spiritual disciplines include care for the body as well as the soul. The body, as Gregory of Nyssa said, outwardly mirrors the emotional and mental stress of the soul. Yet we act as if the soul is unaffected by what happens to the body, as if our intellectual judgments can be detached from our bodily habits.

In the area of spirituality, this bifurcation of the soul and the body often begins innocently enough. For example, to help people get beyond the childhood forms of prayer (kneeling with hands folded by their bedside) we tell them, “That you pray is what is important, not how you pray. You can pray anytime, anyplace, in whatever posture is comfortable.” While the basic point is certainly right – that we should not get hung up on the forms of prayer – we are naïve if we think that the position of the body has no influence on how well the mind can concentrate in prayer. As if we can be as attentive to God lying down in a soft, warm bed as we can while sitting upright on the floor with legs crossed! An athlete knows better; she knows that mental and physical disciplines are inseparable. And so did the teachers of the early Church.


The image of the athletic contest (agôn) occurs repeatedly in the letters attributed to Paul. In I and II Timothy the author, writing as an old man, speaks of having “fought the good fight of faith” and having “finished the race.” In I Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul tells his readers that he possesses the virtue – self-control – required of all athletes who run the race to win the victor’s crown. For without self-control, the athlete would never endure the rigors and hardships of training. The regimen of diet and exercise not only conditions the body by building up strength and endurance, it also prepares the body for the contest by simulating the pain and adversity of the contest. Because of this preparation, the athlete will be not be surprised by the strain and pain of the race or the boxing arena. Indeed, Paul says that he can endure the hardships of his apostolic ministry because he disciplines his body, “I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

This athletic self-control is necessary for the contest of discipleship. For the goal of self-control is subduing our bodily appetites, making our body, as well as our mind, captive to Christ. Only if the whole person is ordered toward one prize can the Christian finish the race. As Jesus said, “A slave cannot serve two masters. For he will hate one and love the other.” Likewise, we can’t do whatever we want with our body while still faithfully serving God with our minds. When we live into the metaphor of the athlete and view the physical regimen of diet and exercise as a spiritual discipline, the body and its appetites can be ordered to the service of Christ and his Church. Only then can the body be an instrument for the Kingdom. Then at last we will discover true wholeness, the unity of soul and body under the headship of him who is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.


J. Warren Smith is Associate Professor of Historical Theology at Duke Divinity School.


Questions for Reflection

• To read John Wesley’s journal is to marvel at his energy. He rose early every morning, prayed, read his Greek New Testament, wrote and answered letters, then kept a list of appointments. Often he spoke of walking miles from one place to the next, thinking it nothing unusual. Do you think his care of the body strengthened him spiritually for the work of the ministry? How much weariness of soul might be healed by following Wesley’s example?

• American culture is sometimes criticized for its emphases on youth and beauty, setting up ideals that are beyond the reach of most people. Do these cultural ideals discourage us from honoring the bodies we have? Why do we cede so much authority to secular ideals at the expense of appropriate self-care? Is this a theological problem that we need to name and confront?

* These reflections first appeared in the collection, “Connecting the Mind, Body and Spirit: Reflections on Health,” produced by the Duke Clergy Health Initiative in summer 2010.

Fun Run


This past weekend I was invited to do a community race with a friend. As the weekend drew nearer, I was feeling pretty nervous about it. What if I didn’t finish? What if I was last? What if I didn’t get the time I wanted to? I had wanted to run a race for so long but had never found the courage to try it. So when the invitation came along, I knew I had no excuse. I said yes. I did it.

Surprisingly, I had so much fun! I didn’t care about my time. I didn’t wear a watch. I just moved my body as fast or as slow as I wanted to. I even smiled, flashing grins to bystanders. People were cheering for me. I had such a wonderful time.

My older friend, who had invited me to race, said one of her favorite parts about racing is that it it brings back memories. Sometimes during a race she remembers her childhood and what it felt like to swim, bike, and run as a little girl.

Exercise doesn’t have to be boring.  Remember when running felt more like this…


…and didn’t leave you feeling like this?


Somewhere along the way, most of us lose the sense of joy that comes from moving our bodies. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here’s some inspiration if you want to re-insert a little fun into your exercise routine:

Let us know what YOU do to keep movement fun!

Kelli Sittser

(Top image by flickr user Pensiero, lower image by Anna Loverus, both via Creative Commons)