the weblog of Alan Knox

Spiritual Lessons from Trail Running

Posted by on Dec 12, 2011 in discipleship, personal | Comments Off on Spiritual Lessons from Trail Running

Spiritual Lessons from Trail Running

(Note: You may not care anything about exercising, or running, or trail running. But, please read through this post and series. I’ve learned some lessons while trail running that I think are very pertinent to our lives as followers of Jesus Christ and to our lives together as his church.)

For the past two Saturdays – December 3, 2011 and December 10, 2011 – I’ve gone trail running with some friends. A few months ago, when I first start running with the local running club, I heard about trail running. I’ve always enjoyed the woods and trails and hiking, so I thought I would probably enjoy trail running as well.

A group from the local running club goes trail running almost every week. I’ve tried to join them before, but there was always a conflict. Finally, a couple of Saturdays ago (December 3), I was able to join nine other runners for a seven mile trail run near Falls Lake in Raleigh, NC.

Last Saturday, I joined a different group, including my son, to run 3 miles on a different part of the same trail near Falls Lake. (As a side note, this trail is part of the 1000 mile long Mountains-to-Sea trail that runs from through the state of NC from the Great Smokey Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. My daughter, Miranda, recently entered a photo contest sponsored by the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea trail, and last week they notified her that she had won first place in the Youth Division!)

When I ran the first few steps on the trail and throughout that day of running, then again throughout the day of trail running the next week, I learned that trail running is quite different from road running. I thought about some of these differences while I was running, and I realized that there are spiritual lessons to be learned from trail running. (Obviously, some of these spiritual lessons can be learned in other ways as well. For example, a few years ago I joined some friends on a 3 day hike through part of the Appalachian trail, and I learned some very similar lessons.)

Some of the lessons were obvious, and you may can even guess now about some of the topics that I’m going to write about. But, some of these lessons are not obvious at all. In fact, looking back, some of these lessons are the opposite of what you might expect.

Over the next few days, I’m going to share some of these lessons in a blog series. While you may not care anything about running or trail running, I hope you will find these lessons challenging and helpful, especially to those of us who are following Jesus Christ.

(One final note: I made a video report before, during, and after my first experience of trail running on Saturday, December 3, 2011.)


Spiritual Lessons from Trail Running

  1. Introduction: Spiritual Lessons from Trail Running
  2. Rocks and Roots and Leaves
  3. Leading from the front; leading from behind
  4. It’s a long, hard road, but we’re running it together
  5. Meeting other people on the journey
  6. The Destination, the Journey, and Everything In Between
  7. Look at your feet; look at the path; look further ahead