The author of the book talks about five stages of running:

“The Beginner” – this stage can be a struggle. Just like any good habits we need to take time and energy to make it a habit. It’s easy to find yourself distracted or find excuses to not get out there. As I talked about on Monday our world looks for the “fast-food” experience and so beginning to run is hard, so when you’re not seeing your desired results right away it’s frustrating and you want to give up. What got me through this phase was that each week I looked at my calendar and planned out which 3 days would be run days, and then I would figure out what time I would run on those days. Some days that meant going for a long lunch so that I could run during my lunch, I put it into my schedule for the day to make it work. I also found some support through my sister who knew I was doing this (not many people did since I wanted to make sure I was going to stick with it before I told too many people!). I would text her and tell her that I ran, a simple “good job” goes a long way when you are feeling like you’re not seeing results. Once I felt I was developing the habit I shared some on social media – where I got lots of support, advice and feedback that helped me to be okay with the little results I saw and hold out hope that bigger results were on the way!

“The Jogger” – In this phase Kay says that a person is more at home with, more comfortable with running. They are enjoying it more and even seeing the psychological, as well as the physical, benefits of running. I am pretty sure this is the phase that I am in now. I enjoy running and don’t want to miss a day! I have started to be more regular in my cross-training and strength training to help improve my running and overall health.

“The Competitor” – Competition drives this person, sometimes to the point that the value of a daily run isn’t so important; it’s seen just as a step towards a better race time. This phase of running can be good as many lessons will be learned, both in running and in life. Pushing oneself can help us to know ourselves better – know our limits, but also see what we can push ourselves to. I see little bits of this phase in me. I want to push harder to get better, but I am also still good with just a nice run day. I have little to no desire to compete in races, but want to keep improving my time and distance. As I write on this one it takes me back to one of my earlier posts where I talked about how I need to keep reminding myself that “I am enough.” I want to do better and more, but how far can I push myself? Can I push myself harder? Am I okay being who I am and accepting my own limits and abilities? This is a constant struggle for me.

“The Athlete” – This stage is more of how a person sees themselves. Competition is not the key here, but getting out there and running well is what matters.

“The Runner” – This final stage is a combination, a balance, of the other stages. Running has become for this person so much more than a physical competition, but a personal enjoyment, a time of solitude and peacefulness.

Each of these stages offers an opportunity to grow spiritually. As a beginner I tried to avoid distractions during a run by calling upon God to help me, to give me the strength to keep moving forward. If a beginner can push away the distractions, they can find God in the midst of the pain, the fatigue, and the struggle. For me, in the jogger stage, I would say finding God here is easy. I go out and enjoy the run; I have found myself able to be open to the beauty that surrounds me in nature. A jogger enjoys the run and sees things beyond the physical aspect of running. A couple weeks ago I was running and saw that beautiful double rainbow, I thought of God’s promises to be with us if we trust in Him, I thanked him for the beautiful reminder of my need to trust Him in all ways as I continued to run. A competitor is going to have a lot more struggle in finding the spiritual especially if they are only relying on themselves to win races and get better times. The competitor stage can steer a person away from spiritual running and only focus on the rewards. The athlete and the runner both are running for a higher purpose so finding spirituality in their running can be a part of any run for them!

  • Look at your running – what stage of a runner do you see yourself as?
  • Where do you find God in your running?
  • If you are past the "beginner" stage - what would your advice be to those who are in the beginner, jogger, or competitor stages?
  • What helped you to grow as a runner? What about running helped you to grow spiritually?**