Saturday, October 20, 2012


"Run while you have the light of life, that the darkness of death may not overtake you."
-John 12:35

If you had said to me when I was in high school or college that one day I would consider myself a runner, I would have scoffed and quipped, "Running is something I do to get ready for other sports. I don't run for the sake of running."

Since graduating from college, I have competed in a multitude of races - sprint triathlon, marathon, half-marathon, 15k, 5k and 1mi. I run as exercise. I run for the sake of running. I run to have fun. Yes, my 14 - 22 year old self is hanging his head in shame. A runner? Me? Really?

Really. And I really do enjoy it. After football it was a way to shed excess pounds. As a cost savings measure running really only requires a decent pair of shoes - no other equipment required. From an efficiency standpoint, I can run just about anytime and anywhere.
I became a runner...not a particularly fast or well-endured runner, but a runner nonetheless.
As a principal of an elementary school, I find maintaining my fitness particularly important. Parents and families send their children to our school to help educate and evangelize them. But, what good is an educated mind or an enflamed spirit if our earthly vessel is incapable of completing the work that God has called us to do? Encouraging physical fitness and promoting a healthy lifestyle is a third component in the education for which I feel responsible for delivering.

This responsibility takes on even heftier importance thanks to the "Designed to Move" Report (watch the video above, read the report here, see a condensed version in this article), which claims that for the first time in recorded history children are expected to live 5 fewer years than their parents. Sedentary lifestyles, unhealthy foods, instant gratification - the culprits are many. The solutions are simple and schools can and should play a big part in this fight to give our kids those 5 years back.

So, Incarnation Catholic School provides daily recess for all grade levels (PreK to Grade 8). We offer Physical Education classes, again to all grade levels, twice a week. Grades 6 - 8 also have a once per week Health class coupling the physical activity of PE with scientific concepts. These may not seem like rare exceptions to the world of education, but there are a good number of schools, public and private alike, that have decided to cut out these important times for students.

Incarnation Catholic School offers interscholastic sports for students in grades 5-8. We have increased the number of junior varsity teams (Grades 5 and 6) offered by our school over the past two years. This way, even more students are involved in sports and physical activity.

Furthermore, this past school year ICS started a Running Club, called "Sacred Steps" because of its connection to Sacred Scripture (each "Workout" begins with a scripture passage, reflection on that passage and prayer). This club, offered to students in grades 2 - 8 has over 40 members. In a school of just under 300 students, I find this to be a staggeringly high number. There is no requirement outside of parental permission in order to participate, but all we do is run. I have said on more than one occasion during our first 4 workouts that "There are no balls allowed in running club!" Students keep track of their laps on a weekly basis and will receive recognition for milestones that they pass. The school has plans to branch club membership down to the PreK, Kindergarten and First Grade levels as well as invite parent participation.

As Jesus encourages us, "Run while you have the light of life, that the darkness of death may not overtake you." It seems that His words have just as much emphasis on our physical bodies as our spiritual ones. Run (or at least move or exercise) so that the darkness of death may not overtake you.

Run while you have the light of life so that your life may be five years longer.

Are you in?