Allow me to wax spiritual for a moment, will ya? I just launched my newest book with a lump in my throat. It’s a birthing process to see a book Beyond Beliefthat’s been in your computer become a physical object people can buy at a bookstore. This new book is not about running; it’s an anthology about women in religion, a subject close to my heart. And I want it to do well, want people to like it. To get it. I’ve been holding my breath all week as reviews trickle in.

In a book-launching process, you tend to do a lot of interviews to get the word out that a new book has been born into the world. Today a reporter asked my co-editor and me a question that went something like this: “Where do you stand in terms of religion today?”

My answer: “I’m a runner.” I went on to say that every time my foot hits the ground, I connect with the Ground of Being that theologian Paul Tillich named in his writings as a metaphor for God. I’ve struggled for a long time to put words to how running has become spiritual for me, how it is like prayer and worship and repentance all at once. Today when I spontaneously used the term “Ground of Being,” I thought, that’s it! I put myself down on something solid when I run—something more solid that my wavering sense of self or my ever-present anxiety about any number of things (the list is so long, I don’t even want to give examples). With every footfall, no matter how fast or slow, I hear something in my soul: “I’m real. I exist. I live. Right here in this world. Right now.”

So this week, as my new baby takes her first breath and we all wait to see if she will live to be big or small, I run to feel grounded in what is as real as anything I know: No matter what, here we are, all of us, doing what we can to make a difference in the world—all the while knowing that the present moment (each footfall on the trail) is all we really have.

Here was my training schedule for the week:

Sunday: 5 slow miles.

Monday: No running. I drove to Seattle for a TV interview.

Tuesday: 3 miles with a friend

Wednesday: Pace work. 6 miles total. I ran 2 miles at my 10K pace, one slow mile, and two more miles at my 10K pace followed by one more slow mile. For the first time, I did my pace work on the trail instead of on the track so the uphill portions were slower than the downhill portions. My average pace for the first two miles were under 9:25; for the second two miles, the average was closer to 10:15. Hills! Something to work on.

Thursday: No running. I drove down to Seattle for our first bookstore reading.

Friday: Speed work. Three miles alternating one minute at my one mile pace and one mile of jogging for recovery.

Saturday: I plan to do a 4-mile slow run, reserving my long run (16 miles) for Sunday.

How’s your training going? What are your spiritual insights this week?


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