Posted by: David Stewart | October 6, 2011

The way of pain, whether running or walking

A friend of mine is walking her first marathon on Sunday. We talk about her training and preparation, what she plans to wear and so forth. At one point she said, "I don’t understand how you can run for a whole 26 miles."

There are plenty of times that I have gotten this reaction. It’s because running involves a certain amount of pain and fatigue and pouring 3 or 4 hours into such a pain producer doesn’t seem rational to most people. But runners, for some reason, don’t think it’s so crazy.

For 1000 years, pilgrims have been walking the "Camino," a journey of over 800 kilometers through Spain which ends at the city of Santiago de Compostela. The Camino is walked today for many reasons, but I can’t help but think, "I don’t understand how you can walk 800 kilometers," just like my friend said about my marathon running.

The Way starring Martin Sheen releases in theaters on Friday and talks about the Camino from the perspective of four pilgrims who walk it. Sheen plays Tom, a widower whose only child is Daniel (played by Sheen’s real-life son Emilio Estevez). When the movie opens, Tom is golfing with his country club buddies when he receives a call from Europe. Daniel has been killed, can Tom come to collect the body?

Upon arriving, Tom learns that Daniel was on his first day of walking the Camino and he begins an interior road trip as well as a literal one as he encounters other pilgrims progressing to Santiago.

Some walk it to simply lose weight or to become less angry or to be inspired. Kind of like the reasons people run the marathon.

Most people who train for the marathon probably put 800 kilometers of running into the effort, spread over months so there is a lot of similarity.

Emilio Estevez was the director and writer of The Way and his craft is superb. The movie is not religious, but it is definitely spiritual. It is also moving and funny and human.

Go see this movie.

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