Thursday, March 18, 2010


“Remember the Sabbath and keep it aerobic”. With these words a Los Angeles area Reverend told her congregation that there would be no services this Sunday due to traffic caused by the LA Marathon. This got the author of the article where is saw this quote thinking about the relationship between running and religion. Specifically, what does one do when there is a conflict between the two?

When I read these words, I immediately thought of all the times I have chosen religion over running. Among those times are the following:

• Not running on Shabbos, either for training purposes or races
• Carrying a bottle in a race, when a kosher sports drink was not available
• Getting up 45 minutes early to pray before going for a run

End of discussion? Not necessarily. All of those are actions. What about in thought? It seems to me that although running is not a religion, it is a devotion of sorts. It comes with its list of rules, both dos and don’ts, goals as well as evaluation of success and failure. There are those, who will say that running can be a spiritual experience. I feel that way myself. What does one do when the values of religion conflict with some part of another important area of life? It is easy to say to always choose the religious value, but how is that determined? One’s health and mental wellbeing are important from a religious perspective as well.

I’d love to have some sort of easy answer of how to find the correct balance, but I’d be lying if I said I think I am there. For now these two parts of me, continue their dance, sometimes easily sometimes awkwardly.

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