There are many ways to tell someone is a regular runner. For instance, do they talk about running as a ritual rather a form of exercise, while calf-juggling bowling balls? That friend who always has plans Sunday mornings is either at church or worshipping at the church of running. (The third and only other possible reason is that they host a Dungeons & Dragons podcast with their buddy Gary from work.) What might start as a forced, and, let’s face it, probably embarrassing cardio workout, in time transmutes into a cherished ritual.

Anthropologist Dimitris Xygalatas distinguishes between routine, habit, and ritual by claiming the latter is more “causally opaque,” meaning a ritual typically involves special, symbolic actions without obvious relations. Here’s an example: eating a peanut butter toast every morning before a run is a nutritious part of a running routine, but if it must specifically be Crazy Richard’s natural peanut butter then Crazy Richard’s is part of a running ritual. Here’s another one: a few minutes of stretching are an essential part of any running routine, but if you need to dance in circles while holding an effigy of Usain Bolt, that’s a running ritual—one that does little to disabuse non-runners of the impression that running is a mysterious cult but then again neither does a running company called PRAISE.
Here’s a little-known fun fact (a fnact, if you will--and you will) about PRAISE: the company started in the Scandinavian wilderness, as a folksy, community-run operation honouring an ancient evil Norse god named Moder—hence the full name of the company, PRAISE MODER. We heard about this secret Swedish village of immortals who were running around performing ritualistic sacrifices in pretty stylish hiking rags and we thought, hey is there a potential collab there? There was, and you may have heard to rumours that wearing PRAISE makes you immortal, which is a hundred percent factual. (Side note to any Swede reading this: why do you love ritualistic sacrifice so much and how difficult is it to move to Sweden?)
I’m kidding, of course. That’s obviously the origin story of goop. PRAISE may not be in the business of worshipping the moon and making face cream recommendations according to the astrological signs, but we know a thing or two about worshipping at the altar of running. Below, we share the ancient ritual elements necessary to summon the gods of running.
First, every ritual needs ceremonial objects: birthdays have birthday cakes and goop moon sacrifices have woodsy-scented candles. A running ritual is no different. The central object ritualized by all runners is of course the short. Shorts are so crucial to the running ritual that some particularly observant runners will wear them well into the Canadian winter, under the belief that not wearing the ceremonial shorts may displease the running gods. And although like birthday cakes shorts are for everyone, we witness their ritual magic most prominently on the jacked legs of our venerable wizard runners. On the other hand, you can quickly spot a new convert by their leggings.
So, there you are, looking divine in your ceremonial shorts, ready to head out there. But where is there? Where do I go, I hear you whisper to yourself, like a spell, like the little running magician that you are. Rituals have to be performed somewhere—that’s just basic ritual math. Regardless of where you elect to perform your running ritual—the streets, the trails, or the tracks—you’ll want to integrate weather prediction into your ritual sequence. Are your pet toads and bats behaving abnormally? What does the Old Farmer’s Almanac say? Runners love running belts but not surprises. They don’t like to stray away from familiar running paths, and they don’t like to get their shorts rained on.
Structure and frequency are other crucial aspects of the ritual. It takes time and timing to establish the right order of actions that will help you derive the most meaning out of your run. For example, a bathroom visit before each run is highly recommended to reduce the chances of the deceptively quaintly named “runner’s trot,” but our team of gastroenterologists also suggest wearing PRAISE from head to toe. That’s just what the science says.
Now that you’ve evacuated your bowels, donned your PRAISE coven shorts, shirt, and socks, it’s time to get into some ritual chanting. No ritual is complete without sacred rhythms and harmonies. There are many pagan chants to choose from as an accompaniment to the sound of your footsteps and of your breathing: anything by Enrique Iglesias, on repeat; an audiobook of Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust (that’ll put you into a trance); or even a Viking playlist. Silence is another good option, the better to hear the running gods take over your thoughts and plant the idea that you should do this every weekend, nay every day, and you should sleep well, and eat well, and my god, lead a balanced life of self-care? What sorcery is this? 
Like any self-respecting ritual, running comes with sacrifices, not of people necessarily, but activities like staying up all night partying on a Saturday. That kind of self-sacrifice is almost as bad as murder. Nonetheless, what you lose in wine litres, you gain in spades with a loving running community, with whom you might one day find yourself running through a Swedish forest, chasing five British guys standing between you and immortality.


By Jess Elkaim, runner-adjacent, Bill Bruford enthusiast, PhD candidate, and future overly educated 7-Eleven clerk.