“More than Just Exercise” -By Maren Christensen


People run for many reasons: to lose weight, training for sports, for fresh air – the list can be very long.  While most of these are true for everyone at certain times, for me, running is spiritual.

I was lucky enough to grow up among the beautiful Wasatch Mountains of northern Utah. As a young girl, my family spent as much time as we could on long walks and hikes on the miles and miles of trails by our house. It was a family tradition! When I was in high school I started running on the trails. They became the place I went to sort out my thoughts. Running outdoors became a place where I felt most like myself.
After my husband and I got married, we moved across the country to Oklahoma. There were so many changes, but one constant was running. It was still the thing I could do to feel at peace. Running helped me grow to love the place that I now call home.
Running always reminds me how lucky I am to have a healthy body that can carry me so many miles and it combines two of my great joys: being outside, and exercise!
When I am surrounded by the beauty that God created for us, I am in awe to see my legs, muscles and lungs carry me, almost magically, long distances. My mind becomes clear. My heart becomes full. My faith is strengthened.
When I go back to Utah to visit, I always have to spend some time on the trails. It can be 12 degrees and snowy, muddy and slick, or hot as hades. It doesn’t matter. Nothing is going to stop me from running on the trails of my youth. I am grateful I got to grow up in such a remarkable place. Those same feelings of gratitude are with me as I run along the trails, rivers, and shoulderless roads of rural Oklahoma. They are all places that showcase God’s beautiful Earth.
Being outside is like a balm to my soul. Whenever the world seems crazy and upside down, I know that if I can get some time outside with my thoughts, that I can sort through everything. The beautiful earth is one of the greatest gifts that God gave us! Get out there and explore it!