Continue, improve, and practice. These are of course the actions we must take in Steps 10, 11 and 12 of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Step 10 – Continued to take personal inventory and when we wrong, promptly admitted it
Step 11 – Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out
Step 12 – Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs
And how closely these words ring true in a sustained life of running. Let’s take a closer look.
Continue – Yearly, monthly, weekly, daily, and even minute to minute, we take inventory of our running goals, our progress, our pace and especially our mechanics. In order to continue on this life-long running journey, we similarly do what is recommended in the Big Book: we make an “effort to discover the truth about the stock-in-trade. One object is to disclose damaged or unsalable goods, to get rid of them promptly and without regret. If the owner of the business is to be successful, he cannot fool himself about values” (64). Just as in continuing sobriety, our running inventories become nearly automatic and more frequent. We become attentive to what we’re doing incorrectly and we keep moving forward, making the necessary corrections as we go. It becomes a lively challenge to keep moving in a way that is both gentle and efficient – we get hurt less and we can go longer. At the end of the day, we’re content with “patient progress” and that the “steps” we’ve taken have gotten us closer to the Creator who has given us the gifts of running and sobriety.
Improve – We get to a certain time in our running when the act of it becomes an expression of prayer and meditation. Spending hours and eventually years on the roads and the trails, we come to rely on the healing power of running. It no longer matters so much what our times are or how fast we can run the next set of intervals – we are seeking to “improve” in a much more existential way, in a way that brings us closer to our Creator again so that we can better go about our lives and be of service to others. We seek the paths on road or trail that for this very day we feel is right for us and for giving expression to the thankfulness in our hearts for one more day of running and sobriety.
Practice – Can we have a “spiritual awakening” as the result of many miles, accumulated over many years and experiences? I would argue that we can indeed. To spend so much time alone in quiet contemplation and meditation while running, we have the opportunity to search ourselves and find that “He was as much a fact as we were. We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 55). Before coming to AA, I already had a deep feeling for God – though this feeling could not keep me sober without The Steps, Unity, and Service, the feeling was inside nevertheless from the many miles, and it was not so difficult to “come to believe in a Power greater than myself” when I arrived at the doors. Of course, this isn’t the case for everyone and I was fortunate in this, but it shows that sobriety linked with running can open new doors of perception. Are we able to “carry the message” of running? Possibly….if we live it day by day, we may be able to pass our passion on to those are hungry for it in their own lives. Just as in AA, we might think that everyone needs it, but only those who truly want it will get it, and when they ask for our guidance to see what we did and what mistakes we made along the way, we are more than willing to give it. And finally, can we “practice these principles in all our affairs?” I hope so – when I claim that running makes me calmer, more intuitive and easier to be around, do my actions match my words? The “acid test” is in my day to day relations with people, just as it is in sobriety. I ask such questions that are in our Big Book: Was I resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do I owe an apology? Have I kept something to myself which be discussed with another at once? Was I kind and loving towards all? What could I have done better? Was I thinking of what I could do for others, of what I could pack into the stream of life? (Alcoholics Anonymous, 86).
Amazing that while I am continuing, improving, and practicing my running on a daily basis, I can do the same in my sobriety. And even more amazing then, are Bill’s words when he stated, “We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 164). Keep trudging friends – and may we meet on the roads and trails or in the rooms where we work together for a common solution.
AA Grapevine’s “At Wit’s End” Joke of the Week
A man walks into a bar and orders a shot of whiskey then looks into his pocket.
He does this over and over again.
Finally, the bartender asks why he orders a shot of whiskey and afterwards look into his pocket.
The man responded, “I have a picture of my wife in there and when she starts to look good then I’ll go home.”
New to the Site Lately
- “Running in the 4th Dimension” – Running video about Harry Cordellos, a blind runner in the 1970’s competing in the Dipsea…incredible!!
- Lots of new XA Speakers under “AA