Philosophy and running may look as very different activities, but below the surface they share a common ground. Based on a recent article we will explain it in more detail.
Firstly, philosophers and runners dream about getting “somewhere”. Achieving the desired goal becomes a demanding process that may take years.
“The meaning of life is not offered to anyone. Everyone has to acquire and create it”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Behind every story of sport success there is a lot of work in physical training, but also at a mental level.
Let´s think of a runner getting to the magical kilometre 35 in a marathon. Something overcomes the fatigue and withdrawing thoughts pushing him forward to overcome retreat. Let´s call it “inner strength”.
On a similar way, philosophers are often only appreciated long after death, despite a long work process searching for answers. Their “inner will” doesn´t allow them to abandon their goals.
Sports and philosophy remove us from the issues of daily life, contributing to promote our personality. Additionally, long-distance running also provides a lot of time for thinking about life.
“The only reality for man is life and his goals”
Sports practice involves at a certain level a search for body perfection, where will, courage, and perseverance are important.
Runners undergo a transformation process as they get to know themselves better. Only a person aware of his abilities and limitations can set goals and follow the path to their realization. Having a goal motivates us to work.
The goal can be constantly modified while improving and enhancing the capabilities. It is important that it is achievable and within reach. Otherwise, it could have a demotivating effect.
Additionally, the goal doesn´t have to be uniquely connected with improving the body. A social or psychological motivational background may also be considered.
“Physical activity in its original psychophysical meaning is the fulfilment of human freedom” Hans Lenk
Achieving sporting success is the result of hard work and commitment.
A sense of freedom is achieved by overcoming our personal weaknesses, and/or winning against the opponents or the challenge ahead of us, whether the distance, environment or weather conditions.
Sport has been recognised as a great economic and social tool for development. Additionally, there are countless scientific publications recognising the benefits of physical activity towards health-promoting lifestyles.
Longer lifespans in good psychophysical conditions contribute also to the development of civilization.
“Sport is intimate, even spiritual, reaching the peak of human existence, giving room to discover the self”
The human body is not always prepared for what an athlete can do. It needs first to master its abilities. Thanks to training, the body gains new capabilities.
Proper practice will cause progress and avoid injuries. It is a transformative process, usually not exempt of internal conflicts while trying to reconcile work and family life.
Too little training load will not provide physiological effects, and too much can only do harm.
“The best way to face the long distance is to accept its hardship”
Running is the simplest form of physical activity. It can be practiced anywhere and by anyone. As a psychosocial therapy allows us to break away from everyday reality. It offers relaxation and oblivion from our worries.
Within limits running increases fitness and health, offering the opportunity to compete with ourselves and overcome our weaknesses.
During the difficult moments of a marathon run we must remind ourselves that although feeling bad, we will soon feel better again.
Philosophy of marathon runs
Health Promotion & Physical Activity 2020, 10, 1: 1-6.