Posted by: Karen | December 16, 2008

Running on the Inside

Sometimes during my runs it seems I’m more conscious of what’s going on inside my head and my heart than what is happening outside them.

Running is still a physical activity in which I savour the fresh air, negotiate challenging terrain, and struggle to keep all the biological systems involved in the movement in harmony with each other. I have days when, once I achieve a comfy momentum and my breathing settles down to a hypnotically sustainable rhythm, my awareness of the physical world fades as the part of me in charge of it goes on autopilot.

I have mentioned before that I really enjoy the hyper-focus that a trail run brings. Often I don’t think of anything else but making sure I get past the next root or rock or ice patch, but at the Okotoks race in November, even the gorgeous, snowy route through the ravine was not enough to distract me from my inner meditations.

In the weeks leading up to that race, I read two books that reminded me of how lucky I am to be living in this place, in this culture, in this time; Three Cups of Tea and Kabul in Winter. The first book gave me hope and inspiration about what one person can do to make a global difference. The latter one grounded my thoughts with concise history and a bleak view of how and why westerners’ aid attempts there have been less than successful.

I realize you probably came here to read a race report, but my efforts on the course that day merely provided a scenic backdrop to the wrangling going on inside myself.  It was a good race. I enjoyed hanging out with my friends. The snow, hills, and encouraging volunteers made the run challenging and enjoyable. It was a cold day, but not nasty-cold – just cold enough to make the soup and cookies afterwards taste great.

The books reminded me of a local organization, Light Up The World, whose founder regularly frequents our cross country races. As it happened, I got to chatting with Dave before and after the race. I didn’t really know what I wanted to ask, but those of you who know Dave understand that his passion for LUTW shines brightly through any opening one might give him.

Dave gave me some good stuff to think about. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it, but I’m looking forward to finding out. 


  1. three cups of tea had a huge impact on me, It was hard not to jump in and DO GOOD WORK AND SEND MONEY and then I realized what this book was about was the community level, if we don’t start at home, then how can we change the world, and I realized my place right now is a Mama to two little boys, as they grow I can move on to community and maybe farther. But right now I’ll hold three cups of tea close to my heart and keep thinking of Jim Henson and how he wanted to bring peace to the world and did it through puppets….we all have our thing even if it is just running for a cause or our selves..

  2. Biological systems in harmony with running – I struggle with that too.
    Hyper-focus requirement of trail running – it’s a nice change from the mind-wandering, work through your trails and stress of life mode (although that is necessary too).
    We’re all looking forward to the race report when you get around to it.
    Merry Christmas!


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