Exercising Every Day Has Been Such an Incredible Blessing

Adventist pastor has been running for years. Every. Single. Day.

Ryan Teller, Union College, for Mid-America Union Conference Outlook
Exercising Every Day Has Been Such an Incredible Blessing
Craig Carr, a Seventh-day Adventist pastor and leader who hasn’t missed running even for a day in more than five years. [Photo: courtesy of Craig Carr]

On December 27, 2018, Craig Carr, a 1991 Union College graduate and now a pastor and leader, went for a run. There was nothing remarkable about that. He had always enjoyed physical activity and felt the need to exercise after all the excess calories of Christmas. The odd thing was that he got up and ran the next day, despite the rain in Seattle, Washington, United States, where he was then living, and the day after that, and kept going.

“By mid-January, I realized I’d run 20 days in a row,” Craig says. “I wondered if I could make it 30. Then 50. Then I thought, Wouldn’t it be cool if I could run for 100 days in a row?

“The thing about a running streak is the longer you keep going, the more you think it’s going to take something drastic — like a surgery — to make you miss a day,” Craig continues. “The streak is its own reason and motivation. For the last few years, the question has never been if I’ll run, just when.”

Just over five years and more than 9,600 miles (15,500 km) later, he’s still going. Every single day he runs at least a mile regardless of the weather, his health, or his location.

What Does a Running Streak Look Like?

In 2022, Craig left the Washington Conference of the Adventist Church, where he had worked when his running streak began, and came back to Lincoln, Nebraska, to serve as ministerial director for the Mid-America Union. Now he has to contend with more ice and snow than in Seattle. His answer?

“Run slower,” Craig says with a laugh. “It’s a combination of running and ice dancing. Some mornings it’s more about staying upright and not letting gravity win. I don’t worry about my time; I just enjoy the fresh air.”

“A streak is an interesting twist on running,” Craig continues. “If you’re training for a marathon, you’ll take days off to let your body recover and rest. I don’t do that. My days off are just going easy … a rest day run is just a little faster than a walk. You focus on not pushing it.”

There are rules to his running streak, although self-imposed. One is that the run must be at least one mile (1.6 kilometers) in order to count. “One day my wife, Carissa, and I were in the Seattle airport,” Craig recounts. “By the time we’d have our layover, fly to Omaha and drive to Lincoln, we weren’t going to get home until after 10:00 p.m. I realized I might not have time to get my run in. So, to save the running streak, I ran a mile inside the Seattle airport.”

Though a mile is the minimum, he has averaged a little over five miles (8 km) a day. His weekday runs are four miles (6.4 km), but longer distances on the weekends pull up the mean.

Do treadmills count? “Yes, but I’m just not a treadmill person,” Craig says. “All of my running is outdoors, which in Lincoln can be a challenge.” The secret is gearing up for the right weather. “I’ll wear three or four layers. I know if my first mile is a little chilly, I’ll be fine because I’ll get warmer as I run.”

“Exercising every day has been such an incredible blessing physically, emotionally, and spiritually,” Craig Carr says. [Photo: courtesy of Craig Carr]

Why Stay Active?

According to Craig, the discipline of physical activity is as much for a healthy mind and spirit as it is for a healthy body. “The daily run has become part of my daily devotional,” he says. “I get up, drink my 20 ounces [600 millilitres] of water to start hydrating, have my devotional time, then go for my run.”

“I think if I had to give it up, the biggest part I would miss is the emotional and spiritual exercise of the run,” he continues. “That’s a great deal of the reason why I’ve held onto it. I take the same route every morning, so I don’t have to think about where I’m going. I can just reflect and talk to God.”

Though he just moved back to Lincoln a year ago, Craig is no stranger to running there. In 1983, his mother, Marilyn Carr, accepted the position of dean of women, and his family moved into Rees Hall.

“My mom worked at Union for 22 years,” Craig says. “No matter where I’ve gone, Union College is always home.”

Investment in the New Reiner Wellness Center at Union

Many of Craig’s memories from his first year of college in Lincoln are of a brand-new Larson Lifestyle Center. “The pool had just been built, and everyone was excitedly talking about phase two. Phase two! We’ll have a new gym and indoor running track!” Craig says with a laugh. “I’m so pleased to finally see phase two all these years later.”

Craig has contributed funds to the construction of the AdventHealth Complex and is excited to have his donation commemorated on the Wall of Champions with a running shoe plaque. “I wanted to be part of this project, even in the small way I can afford,” he says. “I’ve wanted it finished since I was a teenager.”

“Exercising every day has been such an incredible blessing physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and I want Union’s students to have that same opportunity,” he continues. “I was one of the first people to benefit from the Larson pool, and I know it has been a gift for students and a gateway to the Lincoln community for 40 years now. This addition will be more functional all through the year. When the worst weather hits, you’ll definitely see me on that new running track!”

Working for the church, Craig’s travels take him to a wide variety of Adventist facilities. He says he’s glad that Union College’s leadership has been proactive in not just fundraising for the new fieldhouse but also repairing and updating the existing pool and roof. “The buildings at our academies and universities are a bit like our own health,” he explains. “As we age — and as buildings age — if we aren’t maintaining or improving, we can reach a moment of crisis. We can’t rewind the clock to do things differently. We need to be proactive today. It will save us a lot of pain and money in the long run.”

The original version of this story was posted by the Mid-America Union Conference Outlook.

Ryan Teller, Union College, for Mid-America Union Conference Outlook