Starting a religion has to come out of the personal belief of an individual. Whether the religion spreads depends on many things, such as the degree to which those personal beliefs are shared by others. This section is about the personal beliefs and motivations of the person who decided to start the religion, Kaj Arnö. He continues the text in first person.
In the announcement of Runnism, I describe why I see running as a religion. Or rather, why I see running as a spiritual, religious experience. What it doesn’t explain is why I want to launch — preach, if you will — Runnism as a religion.
Let me start by explaining my relationship to sports:
I always belonged to the last ones picked for team sports at school. A mediocre, sub-average athlete in any form of sports for most of my life, I had never run more than 3 km (two miles) in one until in 1999, at the age of 36, when I decided to run a marathon. I completed my first marathon in 2000 in just below six hours. Since then, I have gradually improved, currently running over 100 km (60 miles) each month. Running has allowed me to enjoy various winter sports, climb the Mt Blanc and Kilimanjaro, finish my last three marathons in less than four hours, and above all provided me with the energy for a hectic career at MySQL AB and later Sun Microsystems.
Point one: When I run, I have time to think. Running rests my soul; when running, simple answers to complex questions often appear to me; I’ve learnt a lot from the community of runners. I think there’s a lot of similarity between running and religions.
Point two: When enjoyed in moderation, running is healthy. In the late 1990s, my wife was taken ill with a life-threatening disease that isn’t thought to be influenced by lifestyle. In contrast, perhaps half of the diseases in today’s Western world are related to our own habits. One common habit is lack of exercise. Running not only prolongs life, it enhances the quality of life.
Point three: I like to share the pleasure of running with others. Many relate to running as something boring, tiresome, a burden. Before I became a runner, that’s how I thought of it myself. Yet, there is no need for any such negative thoughts. Today, running gives me inspiration, variation, a source of energy and of freedom. Running is a gift.
Point four: I believe that social media enable the spreading of that thinking. Through my work I have been exposed to and acquainted with what’s called Web 2.0; the human contacts that grow from social media are unbeatable in both quantity and quality.
Consequently, I’ve decided to combine the above thoughts. I’ve decided to establish Runnism, the Religion of Running.