Running Routes with the Sacraments

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There are not many things on this Earth that can replace the feelings I experience during or after a great run.  That same statement is true for the sacraments. There is no way I can duplicate the joy I feel when walking out of the confessional or the connection I feel when I receive Him in the most holy Eucharist.  These gifts are so special and unique, given to us by God so we can experience Him more.

Yet sometimes, it is difficult to find the motivation to get ourselves to Church to accept those gifts.  It can also be difficult to find the motivation to get our runs in as well. That is why by combining the two, we are left with a much more fulfilling and meaningful experience overall.

So, let's start by listing a few powerful combos, shall we?

1. The first combination is near and dear to my heart:  the early morning mass and tempo run workout. This is a great duo for those of us that may not be the type that can spring out of bed and into our running shoes without skipping a beat.  By going to Mass first, you are awakening not only your heart and soul to the Lord and His will, but also your body! Daily morning Mass is typically shorter than a Sunday service so as soon as you begin to get antsy about your run, Mass is already getting out and you have Jesus as your fuel for the day. Now you have not only started your day in sacrifice by waking up early, but you have been given so much back by receiving Him in the most holy Eucharist which is one of the most intimate and humbling experiences.

Now onto your tempo run.  For this run I like to ease in with a good mile or so, letting my body adjust to the outside temperatures and the movements of my legs.  Then, as I feel I am warmed up, I will let the adrenaline from the morning take me on a run that is moderately paced but not exactly hard.  This isn’t a slow easy run, but it isn’t an all out sprint either. It should be fairly long and timed about the same pace as you would run a 10k.  I like to take a route that goes from my Church parking lot, across a few neighborhoods and down to the beach. This gives me a few miles along the shoreline before looping back.  The total distance is approximately 7 miles and I try to keep my 10k pace the entire time. This run is great for after morning Mass because it is long enough where I get a solid workout in, but not too hard of a pace since it is still early in the morning.

2. The next combination I enjoy is a classic:  confession followed by a fartlek. Confession can be worrisome and can be stressful, at least beforehand!  I am always so wrecked with nerves before I step into the confessional I can hardly remember what to say to the priest.  Yet afterwards, it is one of the most freeing and lightweight feelings I have ever encountered. There is just something about those sins being lifted off your shoulders that fills you with pure joy and giddiness.  What better way to channel that energy than into a good old fartlek!

To begin this workout you should warm up for a solid 10 minutes.  I usually warm up for at least this long to ensure my body is prepared for the workout to come.  Since a fartlek workout consists of playing around with different speeds, you want to make sure you’re ready to go fast.  So, once you are ready you can hop into the first round. It’s best to think of your speeds in three sections when doing a fartlek.  Separate your speeds into moderate, moderately hard, and hard with hard being the fastest you go. Your hard pace should be above race pace.  Begin with running at the moderate pace for one minute, then go straight into the moderately hard pace for one minute and lastly go straight from there into the hard pace for one minute.  After the three consecutive minutes of running, ease into two minutes of jogging. If you’re able, do not stop moving throughout this workout for it is designed to ebb and flow from fast into slow and so forth without stopping.  After the jog, jump into five minutes of your moderate hard pace and then follow that with three minutes of jogging. Finish this round up with three minutes of your hard pace and then five minutes of jogging. That is one entire round completed.  Depending on your fitness, you can either do another round of that same workout or finish right there and then. A fartlek is a really wonderful workout for post confession because you have all that pent up energy you just let out to the priest and now you are feeling free as a bird, so use it!

3. Finally, there is the sweet sweet experience of Adoration.  Adoration is such a unique and beautiful time spent with God because it is so personal.  You aren’t there interacting with anyone but Him. It’s so cool because God wants you just as you are, you don’t have to pray a certain way to be ‘right.’  I heard the analogy once that spending time with God in adoration is like spending time with your dad. You love your dad so much, and want to just be near him as he works at his desk, but you have a ton of homework or you are super tired.  If that was the case, your dad would never usher you away just because you weren’t chatting his ear off. He would love that you just wanted to be with him.  He would take whatever quality time he could with you because you are his daughter and he cherishes that time spent next to you.  It is the same thing in adoration. If you are feeling sad, tired, overwhelmed, or angry that is all okay. God doesn’t want you to only come to Him when you are in joyful adoration, He wants all of you.  Every emotion and every stage. So adoration is a great place to go to when afterwards you are able to do your recovery run.

I think of adoration as healing for my mind, body, and soul.  Most times when I leave adoration, I feel as though I am walking out of a sauna or a jacuzzi.  My body feels loose and calmed and the last thing I would want to do at that point is an interval or speed workout.  This is why I like to combine adoration with an easy slow run. Enough miles where I can mentally work through whatever I just received in prayer, but a pace that supports my mind wandering without compromising my time.  This recovery run typically is ran at a good two minutes slower than my 5k race pace and should not be too strenuous or difficult. I run for about three to four miles total, including the warm up and cool down. This run is enough where I am breaking a sweat, but instead of being focused on hitting particular times I am more so mulling over the goodness of the Lord.

There are tons of different workouts you could combine with your daily activities but I find these sacraments pair best with the runs previously described.  God has given you the gift and desire to run, so get out there and do it with Him in mind!

Kristin LaBruzzo (or better known as Kritter) is a cradle Catholic, wife, mom, runner, sweet potato and ranch advocate, sports lover, ocean swimmer and secretly introverted lady who is obsessed with all things athleisure. She graduated from Franciscan University and taught special education high school students for a year before being promoted to stay at home mom. Now with a second child on the way, she oftentimes finds herself escaping into the pages of a good book, pounding the pavements for some alone time, or standing in the sweet grace of the Eucharist in adoration. Oh and of course binge watching some Netflix or busting out a board game with her husband. She is eagerly awaiting the birth of this next child so her running shoes can once again be set free to roam the streets and shoreline of Ventura, CA with just a small babe in tow. What a beautiful life this is, making our way back Home. You can connect with Kritter on Instagram here or read her blog here.