What’s the difference?
between ritual and routine? Superstition and belief? When is it a prayer and when is it just proper form? Efficient breathing? When does a habit become sacred? Does it need: a doctrine? a theology? hymns about souls and rejoicing and kingdoms and conquering and reigning? chants about fathers and spirits and ghosts and sacrificing sons? basement potlucks with seven layer dips? uncomfortable pews? getting up too early on a Sunday morning? Yes, it needs this. Could it be that one defining characteristic of the sacred for me is a refusal to stay in bed? A need to be upright, alive, active, present in the world?

Morning, spring 2016
Wake up at 6. Feed dog. Make coffee.
Write some while drinking the coffee.
Eat: cheerios, banana.
Wash face, brush teeth, comb hair.
Put on running clothes
and running shoes. 
Go outside.
Walk some.

1. clothing
2. a costume characteristic of a calling, rank or function

1. black shorts with white trim. Not black as
coal, they’ve faded in the sun. The
drawstring is gone too. It was a pretty bright blue. Now
elastic is all I have to keep the shorts from
falling down.
2. Green
headphones, if I’m listening to music, and
if I am, that music usually includes a
Justin or two: Bieber or Timberlake. My
kids wouldn’t
like me to admit that,
mostly because it embarrasses them. “Here’s something to look forward to: when you’re 42, almost 43,
nothing embarrasses you,” I say.
Other favorites to listen to: Barry Manilow,
Prince. 3. A
quick-drying tank top, either in black or blue. I
really don’t care which.
Sometimes I wear a green tank-top, but it’s
thicker and not quick-drying, so only if the temperature is
under 70 degrees. Otherwise it’s
very uncomfortable.
4. White ankle socks, with an orange
x on the heel, at the end of the word, “Power Sox,” and mismatched trim that is
yellow on one foot and bluish green on the other. 5. Bright blue shoes with
zero swooshes, only coral swishes.

Getting Dressed
I imagined how a priest might put on his vestments before going to celebrate the Eucharist, doing it very mindfully. So I would approach running the same way if I put on my shorts and T-shirt and then pull on my socks and make sure that there’s no creases in them, smooth them out and pull them up just right and examine my shoes to make sure there’s not any pebbles or dirt inside and lace up the shoelaces very carefully and double-knot them and simply just pay attention to what I’m doing. And so to the extent to which I can prepare my mind and my body to receive, then I think I’ve prepared myself for both the run and for the prayer (Roger Joslin).

No-trip Insurance
Right after
I tie my running shoes, I
Tuck the bows
Under the laces.
Always. It helps keep the
Laces from coming untied.

the garment they wear, the very structure of their body life (Mary Oliver).

I have a baseball cap.
I have a used-to-be-kelly green but now is briny green or olive green or sweaty green or I-should-be-thrown-away green twins baseball cap that I bought at a twin’s game years ago and now, after many adjustments, fits just right on my head, even when the wind is really blowing, and that I wear whenever I run but that is fraying at the top and is causing me distress because I love it and don’t want to get rid of it and fear that there will never, ever be another cap as great or that is as faithful in keeping out the sun and capturing the sweat so it doesn’t run down into my eyes as this one that has been snugly, but not too snugly, on my head through thousands of miles and dozens of running and triathlon races.

My Sauconys (pronunciation: sock-a-knee)
Excellent. Dependable. Cheap. Since I started running almost 6 years ago, I’ve worn Saucony Grid Cohesion shoes. $39.99, if you find them on sale, which I always do. I think my first pair were version 4. Now I’m on version 10. An intense blue with coral swishes. Great for someone with a “neutral”, as opposed to pronate or supine, foot strike and a super wide foot. I used to be envious of Scott and his fancy and brightly colored $100+ shoes. Why can’t I find cool, high-tech shoes like that to fit my foot? But for the past several versions, my bottom-of-the-line basic Sauconys have been available in more than boring white or gray. I’ve worn bright orange, teal and now a deep blue.

Starting out, Version One
Put on your shoes and go outside to
Run. Start slow
And stay relaxed.
Your breathing should be steady and
Even. Focus on finding a
Rhythm and letting go.

Starting out, Version Two
Composed and recorded while running and speaking into an iPhone: At the beginning of my run, just as I try to steady my breath, I try to calm my mind.