A letter of gratitude:
Running Medicine Family, my brothers and sisters in sweat and movement and prayer and beauty, a lot to be thankful for, and I wanted to put something on paper before heading to bed. As they say, 58,000 steps is a horrible thing to waste (yes, I took a pic of my Garmin to prove it!)
Well, I made it to the tram without walking, a nice 45 minute stint. 7 minutes to scarf down a sandwich, refill my water and I was off. Now, there became a philosophical conversation with myself, as some of my “running” was no faster than a walk. I felt that the commitment to run, and not walk, was more about the intention than the movement/speed. Weird to say that, but 4 hours into a run on rugged terrain and at 10,000 feet and you really can’t often tell a run from a walk based on speed or stride. But, the intention to run, even at very slow pace, was doing something real to my psyche!
Our prayer run started with a wonderful group of 12, ages 1-65. We talked about those we wanted to pray for on the run – those we have lost, marriages about to be. The sun was hiding behind the Sandias as we set off. Around 2 hours, now running by myself, I was struggling a bit. Mentally and physically fatigued, I was doing as much walking as running. A bit further 2:45 into the run, I simply said “I am not going to walk” and with this simple proclamation, something BIG changed. My mindset was flipped from a “how much longer can I do this” mode to one of positivity and confidence.
A bit further in, I wasn’t even considering walking anymore. My thoughts of how many times I would allow myself to walk without calling the effort a failure had long dissipated. I was just running, and oddly enough, I was running faster and faster. I had a feeling of complete freedom from worry, from time, from all of the limitations I can often place on myself. After uttering that simple sentence, I never walked again in the next 4 hours of the run.In fact, as this continued down the north slope of the Sandias, with Placitas in view, I reflected on the incredible joy I felt in being 100% pain-free 5+ hours into the run. But here is something even more incredible – I was in no way tired or fatigued. Yes, 3 hours more of running from the time much earlier where I was struggling to keep moving, I was now moving fast and feeling zero fatigue. I felt as if I had just started the run, but even better, even fresher than that.
Now, had someone blocked the trail and forced me to stop, sit and lie on a cot, I estimate 90 seconds as how long it would have taken me to fall asleep. So, yes, in a physical sense I was quite tired. But I was not longer a physical being. I was removed from my physical self. And if you wanted to capture the medicine of what running does to us, far deeper than “runner’s high” will ever capture, this is it. An out of shape guy who is 5 hours into a rugged mountain run at high altitude sensing zero pain, tightness, discomfort…but even more amazing, having not the slightest twinge of fatigue. That is beautiful medicine!
I ended up finishing 47 minutes faster than my previous 3 Crest Trail Prayer Runs, or 2 min/mile faster. And while this was about medicine, about prayer, I must say that there is a beautiful thing when you can see the body do amazing things in a very mathematical, stopwatch-defined kind of way. I think that running for much deeper reasons made the record mean something much deeper. I think of Dustin Martin’s recent Boston Marathon, an incredible PR…when I asked him what the key that success was, he simply said, “I ran it as a prayer run.”
I will end with one last reflection from this run today. It was an incredibly perfect day of weather. I descended the north side of the Sandias expecting full blown sun in a stretch that gives no shade. Instead, constant shade and coolness. I am about 1 minute from the finish of my 6+ hour journey and suddenly, there she is – the sun is out in full force, beating down upon me. Creator’s way of humbling me, showing me in a very real way Her Power, my smallness, and the blessings that are so present from Above to keep me protected, sustained, supported, and loved.
In love and movement,
Your brother Anthony.
TO LEARN MORE visit https://runningmedicine.org/
Follow and support Dr. Anthony Fleg’s Native Health Initiative (NHI) program in creating healthier stronger communities through movement.
Hi all – writing to you, running/walking/fitness/wellness colleagues.
Running as medicine…
Running as a spiritual, mental, emotional, cultural, and physical wellness
Running as a stress-reliever on those rough days
Running as a way to give thanks on the best days
NHI is going to start a program to promote wellness and fitness in our Native and larger ABQ community in 2016.Courtesy of Running Medicine, portion of first email
Thank you for taking the time to our read blog! If you liked our first featured guest, please let us know! This truly is a shared journey. – Sasha and Jennifer