Off the Clock—Philip Speer on Running & Spirituality

A column dedicated to what the industry loves, outside of the kitchen. This round: Philip Speer.

March 1, 2016 ● 2 min read

You know why I run? I run so that I can eat queso.

If I ate queso at the rate that I'd like to eat queso, and I didn't run, I would have severely clogged arteries and be on my way to death.  

Okay for real: when I went to rehab, we were urged to meditate and to find a higher power as part of the 12-step program. I really had trouble wrapping my head around the notion of this all-knowing higher power that I was supposed to resign my life, my will, my decision-making process over to.  

My rehab was out in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of Texas hill country, where it's not only gorgeous, but there's literally nothing out there. You would go out at night and you could see every single billionth star in our solar system. You could see shooting stars everywhere you looked. It was complete serenity and chaos at the same time. When I was trying to wrap my head around what a higher power could be and learn how to get through this addiction that I had, that's what I related to.  

That turned into running and walking out in the trail. Out in the wilderness I really felt like I was one with nature. That became my higher power. It also became my meditation moment, so when our group would go out and meditate up on the hill and do prayer or hymns—I would go up there sometimes to be with them—but the majority of the time I went and I Zenned the fuck out, running.  

I would see the millions and millions of shooting stars and the nature and the trees and the wind and the weather and the rain and all of it and that was like my way of being inside and outside of my body at the same time. No music, no headphones. I would just run in the silence by myself in nature and that was my meditation. That was my higher power.  

I started enjoying it for the sport that it is. I still enjoy trail running, I still do it as much as possible, but I've now also started marathon training. I started doing long-distance running because no matter where I run, I now relate it to that Zen aspect of being alone. Really meditating, having some real rational, serene, clear thoughts. I just love it.    

As told to Roxanne Webber | Original image via Philip Speer on Instagram       

Missed Speer's episode of Elevated? Hear the story before running was in the picture, below: