Journal Running Spirituality

The Zone: Gratitude, Grit, and God

Lisa Hamilton, fellow yogi runner, writer, and ROO Podcast interviewee #66, asked me to contribute a few words on my understanding of “the zone” for her book, “The Conscious Runner.” Released less than a month ago, I have finally had the opportunity to read through her published piece and am blown away by her honesty, innovation, and thoughtfulness. “The Conscious Runner” is not only a guide that will teach you how to run mindfully, but also tells the powerful story of Lisa’s life, from overcoming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to almost qualifying for the Olympic trials. I am honored to be apart of Lisa’s book and below you will find my reflections on the zone— an abridged passage is included in “The Conscious Runner,” which you can buy for only $0.99 on Amazon!

I had the honor of meeting Haile Gebrselassie, one of the greatest distance runners in history, during my time in Ethiopia in November 2014. Before meeting Haile, I spent hours pouring over his life story and race achievements in preparation for my podcast interview with him. I remember thinking before I met Haile, “this is a man that knows how to be in the zone in gratitude, grit, and God.” To accomplish setting the former 2008 world record in the marathon in a time of 2:03:59, with a pace of 4:43 per mile— Haile has the gift of dwelling deeply in the zone. Accessing the zone when racing, takes a combination of being thankful for the strength of your body, mental toughness to persevere through pain, and a connection to a higher force, which I call God. When I met Haile, we did not directly discuss being in the zone, but he did mention the role of his faith in his running and its impact on moving beyond “the impossible.” Haile’s running is a testament to the decades it takes to harness the zone in accomplishing feats of endurance.

The zone is not only something I experience when racing, but also during yoga, walking, biking, swimming, cooking, and singing— places where I connect my mind, body, and spirit in a timeless space. Right now in my life, running is the activity where I can access the zone most easily. When I am running on a trail, I forget about my to-do lists and worries, but instead feel an all-pervasive sense of thankfulness and connection to my surroundings. Like Haile, I believe that the zone can take us to places beyond our imagination and allow us to tap into a our deepest strength. The zone brings me to gratitude, grit, and God on a daily basis and because of that, I will continue to seek it with everyday to come.