As you already know, as a Christian man it’s vital that we have a fitness lifestyle that empowers our hearts, develops virtue, and ultimately moves us forward on our paths to sainthood. If you ask me the best fitness lifestyle will have a balance between spending time in the gym and time outside, some time training and some time exploring, working out with your brothers and working out in solitude.

Now as a 15 year veteran working as a fitness professional I’m fortunate to have come across a lot methods and tools that I can apply to developing my personal life and the lives of my clients and hopefully to you, my readers as well. As a 6 year convert I have continually grown in my understanding and practicing of our Faith and searching for ways to infuse the genius of Catholicism to all aspects of my everyday life. With my passion and profession of health and fitness I’ve found it essential to contemplate ways to train and have experiences that develop both the physical and spiritual as well as the intellectual and emotional.

Over the last few years I’ve come to discover how essential it is to spend some time outside the gym and add mini-adventures to my fitness routine. Now I started with hiking and running in local trails once a week…no music, no iPod, just me, God’s creation and the classroom of silence. I’d start with an Our Father and turn the first 10 minutes or so into a dedicated prayer time, then open my mind and heart and just listen and enjoy every bit of natural beauty that I could. These sessions offered me a space and time for some deep thinking as well as quiet time to listen to what God had to say. Every time I’d have thoughts and ideas that we’re “game changers” and as soon as I’d get back to my car I’d quickly scribble my mental notes into my journal.

If you have not added this to your physical and spiritual training I urge you to get started. Overtime I figured out that this time was most valuable spiritually and emotionally as a mini-retreat. Investing an hour or two per week of this short, active retreat has been a key for me to have the right mindset and restorative energy to pursue a consistency in cultivating my virtues, and executing my roles as husband, father, business owner, etc.

Now the weeks where I miss this I can feel a tangible difference. I have a shorter fuse, I am a little less sharp and creative, I’m less empathetic of the needs of my 3 toddlers and more lethargic in general. So I’ve found it necessary to have these excursions not just for my sake but for the sake of my family and clients. I also grew to needing longer versions every quarter or so for 4-6 hours to go deeper.

Tips to Getting Outside:

So here’s a few tips on how add some running/hiking adventures into your lifestyle that I’d like to share with you.

  1. Start with silence. Over time add music that helps you acquire the mood of tranquility that you need on that day or listen to the rosary. You can also you use this time to listen to a spiritual podcast.
  2. Have a home base. As you go to various parks and run on different trails find one or two that are your “go to” places, places you can master.
  3. Have a rotation. Develop a patter of training on a home base trail or a new trail. You might grow into having some secondary trails that you do once a quarter or once a year.
  4. Always search out and run on new trails. In order to keep the adventure spirit lit you need to explore new areas of creation.
  5. Casual runs vs. training runs. There’s a time for both, but I suggest starting with casual sessions where you’re not concerned with collecting any data like time, distance, heart rate, etc… I do a combination based on what my needs are and the context I want for my session.
  6. Have a rosary in your pocket.
  7. Invite a super-friend once in awhile. Matthew Kelly says, “Relationships are gifted with care-free timelessness, that’s time together without an agenda.” Some time hiking or running out in nature can super charge a friendship, a marriage, or a parent-child relationship.
  8. Get a Donut. Once in awhile stop and get a donut and a cup of coffee to savor your experience. Life is too short not to enjoy donuts here and there.
  9. Bring a ruck. A ruck is like a military grade backpack. I have and suggest the GR1 from GoRuck but any backpack will do. You can add some extra load for some added “mental toughness” when hiking with bricks or “ruck plates”. I suggest having a small bible, a journal, a book your currently reading and some snacks/water as well. My beautiful wife just got me a nice camera for Christmas so I have added that to my gear. And just be open to the experience. If you see a beautiful area where there’s a place to sit check into your heart and search what you need in the moment…read, pray, journal, take some pictures or any sort of combination.

There you go fellas, now get out outside and grow!