Spirituality Running on The Beach

“If you live on the edge of an enormous mountain or an enormous body of water, it’s harder to think of yourself as being so important. That seems useful to me, spiritually.” – Heather McHugh

After 200+ posts it seems impossible at times to find something original and fresh to write about running. Think about it: what aspect of running hasn’t been observed, contemplated, analyzed and over-analyzed to death by coaches, exercise physiologists, trainers, writers and runners themselves? When I’m in such a brain-freeze, I wait until a story comes to me, as it did running on the beach this week. I’m not referring to The Beach, as in the fragrance Kramer created, but the strip of land bordering oceans around the world.

The inspiration to write about the beach struck slowly and naturally in the midst of a long run along the coast in Sea Isle City, New Jersey. Running guru George Sheehan used to talk about the hour run like it was a religious experience. The hour run alongside the vast and mighty sea is outright spiritual. The ocean is powerful, serene, timeless and omnipresent.

The ocean can swallow a cargo ship, crush a nuclear submarine, wipe out entire towns, yet it can create the tidal energy to supply power to communities of every nation.  Meditation and yoga practitioners use soundtracks of crashing waves to sooth their minds, relax their bodies, feed their spirits. The picture of a sunrise or sunset is therapeutic. I’ve run the same beaches for decades and they are the same today as they were the first time I set foot on them. The ocean’s waters wash the sands of every shore around the globe, all at the same moment.

Running along the beach, the power of the universe seeps into your blood stream, flows with the electrons and neutrons of your brain waves; endorphins flow, sweat oozes from your pores and drips onto the sand, some fall into the water to become one with the sea–the ocean’s equivalent of ashes to ashes.

Beach

At any moment in time somewhere around the globe, runners stride along the beaches in Scotland, the Ivory Coast, Norway, Lithuania, Ukraine, North and South Korea, China, Australia, Bali, New Zealand, Argentina; the beach at Normandy, France. Beaches connect us, refresh us, restore us. The ocean is a Baptism of sorts, not in the traditional sense, but a spiritual experience practiced since the beginning of time. Ancient writings on stone tablets document cleansing rituals and purifications linked to water. It is inherent in our nature.

Anytime you run a beach, early in the morning or at late at night, you join runners around the world on adjacent coasts in other lands. Your heart beats, breath pants, sweat drips, all in unison with theirs. Running the beach is a solitary act, yet connects all of humanity.

Beach - Sunset

The hour run. The hour run on the beach–breathe it in.Seagull

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About Jim Brennan

Jim is a Philadelphia-based writer, author, poet and editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.
This entry was posted in Health, Running, Travels and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Spirituality Running on The Beach

  1. It’s been hard not being able to run as I once use to do at sunrise every morning for nearly 20 years. The peace, the breath and the connection to earth and nature were always the most incredible way I could imagine to start my day. I’ve missed that but truly Jim, when I read this post I experienced all of it in my mind once again. Thank you for this amazing gift of your images, words and dedication to running and passion for life. ~ Rick

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  2. LB says:

    The photos are beautiful, but I loved the image that came to mind of people from all over the world, running along the beaches at any given time … pretty cool thought.

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  3. Lovely post Jim. Your description hits the nail. I must have missed this one in the reader.
    I run on a beach which inspired somebody famous if you’re interested. I wrote a very short post about it a few months back.
    http://truckerturningwrite.com/2014/02/26/amazing-forgiveness/

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  4. Mark Mangan says:

    Nice post Jim, as usual. “The hour run. The hour run on the beach–breathe it in.” I forget where I read this….but, every breath we take we are breathing in not only the ocean but a piece of everybody ever living on this planet….the breath of Benjamin Franklin, Shakespeare, even Jim Brennan….however… not to put a downer on this….but also Hitler, Idi Amin et.al…..But let’s not forget Jesus Christ!

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    • Jim Brennan says:

      Mark, thanks for making such a poignant point. Yes, we are connected with all of humanity–the good, the bad, and the, well, you know. It is up to each one of us who to follow. I believe most of us follow people who inspire us to be better human beings, and avoid those who are toxic to our soul. Be well.
      jim

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  5. AinaBalagtas says:

    Incredible images, and very well written words–all thumbs up to you, Jim!

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  6. briapittman says:

    Wow, well said.:) Makes me yearn to live closer to the ocean.

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    • Jim Brennan says:

      Thanks, Bria! Or as poet Heather McHugh says, the mountains or a large body of water brings that spirituality. Of course running guru George Sheehan would say the hour run is a spiritual experience regardless where you run.
      jim

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