Do you want to run for longer? If so, know this: your best running coach is your last stride. In other words, our experiences from running are our best teachers.
It’s like we travel into the unknown, with a blindfold on, using our initiative compass as a guide. We do this through awareness, curiosity, intention, and hope.
Whether it’s your first time on a trail, running a marathon, or wrestling around with the thought of an ultramarathon, new experiences will always allow for great insight.
I’m referring to experiential knowledge, and I believe it’s this knowledge that serves us best.
We learn from wins and losses. Joy and pain. Success and failure. However, if you can develop a learning mindset, every obstacle then becomes a test of how bad you want it and a gift that offers valuable lessons for growth.
All in which you so elegantly stumble your way through during training, to provide you with powerful tools on race day.
Trial and error seem inefficient on the surface but produce self-efficiency at its core. We learn hard lessons from our mistakes, but these downfalls are life’s most promising teachers.
With that, below are three mindful running lessons that will help you run for longer. I express them in a mindful way, guiding your awareness to the body, mind, and soul.
After spending quite some time running ultra distances, I can tell you this: running extends well beyond the physical.
Let’s first start with the body, the vehicle we maneuver diligently toward the finish line.
1. Run With The Body: Stress, Heal, and Grow
I’ll never forget the lesson I learned on my honeymoon in the Caribbean Islands.
On the first day, my wife and I had just finished a round of beach volleyball when I saw a native running down the oceanside barefoot. Hit by a sudden spark of motivation and the smile of approval from my wife, I took off running.
Of course, my light morning run quickly turned into a race around the entire island. Halfway around, my feet began to feel strange. I quickly realized the skin on the bottoms of my feet were ripping apart!
Like calluses on your hands, the skin on the bottom of your feet grows back a thicker and stronger layer from barefoot running if done so gradually.
This was not the case for me.
After my run was over, my feet needed to be cleaned and bandaged quickly.
The medical facility basically asked for my entire life savings along with my first-born child for payment. This led to plan B. I went to a nearby shed where a few locals were kind enough to assist.
They gave me a shot of rum, a towel to bite down on, and ripped the remaining skin off. Afterward, we all shared a good laugh, and I left them with a tip for their generosity.
Walking like a penguin, I waddled back to my wife.
She did not find the story nearly as funny.
Here’s The Point…
Gradual adaptation is the reason someone can go from barely making it up a hill to climbing Mt. Everest or someone like myself who went from running a few miles on a treadmill to one hundred-mile ultramarathons and longer.
Your potential is limitless in a world where possibilities are endless, but our bodies take time to stress, heal, adapt, and grow.
As we express our forever expansive awareness within the narrow constraints of a human body, we learn that one must stress in order to grow.
My honeymoon running story demonstrates how we place stresses on the body, forcing it to respond and adapt to its new demand. My feet did not have time to gradually adapt to the surface like the native of the island.
The body needs time to adapt to barefoot running gradually, it needs time to adapt to long mileage, and it needs time to adapt to a new model shoe.
To prevent excessive stress, pain, and injury, it’s essential to increase mileage slowly.
We’re human beings, and as human beings, we adapt to our environment. By applying stress, we break down, heal, and grow back stronger so we can meet new demands. The key here is “new demands.” We have to continually make progress if we truly want to learn how to run for longer.
Simply put, the human body knows how to run for longer, and it starts with adaptation.
Through the stress, it helps to be patient and try your best to remain humble.
I’m far from best, far from elite, and far from professional. But I do run far, and that’s been my ultimate goal all along.
Gradual progression through adaptation can and will get you there. It requires a diligent effort centered on patience and humility.
Stay patient…stay humble…and you will stay running.
2. Run With The Mind: Transcend Limiting Beliefs
The marathon finish line was faintly visible in the distance. It didn’t make sense at the time, how “someone like me” could finish a marathon. I even began developing self-sabotaging thoughts. And the same self-sabotaging thinking also affected my body.
It was strange, but every step forward felt like two steps backward. I felt stuck inside a pit of marathon mental quicksand, and I was struggling to find a way out.
My brain could not comprehend what my eyes were witnessing. It began to short circuit! I could have sworn smoke was puffing out my ears!
Okay. So, maybe the smoke was a hallucination. Okay…the smoke was definitely a hallucination. But you get the point.
It was similar to a weak leg dream. You know…when you are being chased, but you can’t pick up speed. No matter how much effort you give, you can’t gain momentum. And every step makes your legs heavier than the last.
That’s precisely how the final stretch of my first marathon felt.
But if you dig deep enough within yourself to push through the resistance, you then experience an incredible phenomenon…
It’s rather spectacular.
You see, once your mind starts accepting the impossible is possible, the dynamics change entirely. Suddenly, you don’t just run to the finish line…you GRAVITATE towards it! And then you cross the finish line and here’s where you experience a paradigm shift.
You realize that you didn’t just cross the finish line, but you BECAME the person who could cross the finish line, and that’s yours forever.
That’s because you overcome the self-limiting beliefs holding you back and transcend them into new and empowering ones that drive you forward.
In other words, whatever distance you believe you can run is the exact distance you will end up running.
Here’s The Point….
Run through your identity, concrete beliefs, unconscious habits, attachments, and fear. Yes, you can stress to run for longer; however, you can also let go.
When you cross the finish line, you begin to understand the only barrier that held you back was your limiting beliefs.
You begin to understand that the ONLY barrier that EVER holds you back from running for longer is your limiting beliefs.
Because through adaptation, steady progress, and patience…ANYTHING is possible. Even running a marathon or longer.
And it all begins with your thoughts…
Remember…Keep moving forward, no matter how much adversity you face. Through the storm, keep moving forward! Through the discomfort, keep moving forward! Through the self-doubt, keep moving forward! Connect with that deep longing brewing underneath the surface of your thoughts, and allow a greater sense of hope to pull you to the finish line.
3. Run With Your Soul: Suffer, Let Go, and Align
“People mistakenly assume that their thinking is done by their head; it is actually done by the heart which first dictates the conclusion, then commands the head to provide the reasoning that will defend it.”
~Anthony De Mello
After running a few 100-mile races, I followed my intuition and signed up for a longer distance.
It was exhausting when I ran 116 miles across the state of Florida. When running such a long distance, your body gives up at some point, and your mind takes over.
But on this occasion, my mind struggled as well due to the course’s repetitious manner. The course was one straight road across the entire state. The road had the same slight incline the whole way, and every mile of the last 30 miles looked identical.
The trees all looked similar, along with the corresponding painted line. The bushes appeared identical, along a road with hundreds of sewer pipes the exact distance apart. The sky stayed the same color blue. The road was the same color black.
I kept running and running, and the end seemed it would never come. It began driving me insane!
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well, after 100 miles of running and the repetitive nature of the course, I felt stuck in a perpetual time loop. I began losing it!
Fortunately, somewhere far past the physical and just beyond the mind lies the power of the human soul. And when spirit ignites the soul, the impossible DISINTEGRATES.
If you’ve read some of my other work, you know how I pushed through to the end and finished in first place. But it wasn’t my feet that brought me to the finish; it was my soul, empowered by spirit. The spirit was there, it was always there, and it’s there for each one of us if you’re open to it.
As I like to say…
When running an ultramarathon, the first 50 miles I rely on my body and run on the trail. The next 40 miles I rely on my head and run in the mind. The last 10 miles I rely on my heart and run in the sky.
Here’s The Point…
We can run with so much more than the physical body.
We can push well beyond the boundaries of the mind.
However, we must be consciously aware of this ability. Otherwise, these potentially powerful tools become nearly fixed self-constructed barriers.
You can lose your freedom from the weight of worldly attachments; however, you can never lose the freedom of your eternal soul.
Through an expansion of awareness, you run for longer from a place that’s so spacious, so infinite, so free…
The problem is that it’s relatively easy to mistake worldly excitement for joy and happiness. In this way, we find ourselves stuck in binary thinking, knowing happiness only by sadness, good only by evil, and pleasure only by pain.
You are already happy. It just takes becoming consciously aware.
Sometimes we live so high up on our ego that the descent can feel like dying. That’s the death of the false self, and a necessary humiliation one must endure on the path to self-discovery.
It’s not the distance you must conquer in running, it’s yourself.
This loss of the false self is one way, through suffering, that we dig deep to find the true self, and align with the soul’s purpose.
This purpose is self-discovery, and I think, the most influential path to running an extraordinary distance.
The Path To Self-Discovery
I don’t run for speed, I run for self-discovery. It’s not about being the best comparatively. It’s about aligning with my higher self. The journey to self-awareness has been the journey of 1,000 miles.
When your running journey is powered by self-discovery, there is no distance too long to overcome. The race then becomes a fulfilling adventure into the unknown. This produces a powerful pull toward what lies ahead.
It’s like I enter the morning mist of race day not to finish a race, but instead, to wake up and discover the depths of my eternal being. I race for self-awareness, not self-satisfaction.
This longing for self-discovery stretches you forward by hope. Each finish line removes one more mask of the ego. This is a transcendent experience.
Will I run my whole life?
I don’t know.
For now, I continue to go off into the wilderness to get lost to find myself.
The discovery is right there, a knowing, sitting right under the surface, but in plain sight, often clouded by the ego.
It’s like when you’re running a 24-hour ultramarathon, and you’ve been running over 20 hours and catch the radiant sunrise just off the side of a cliff.
You know the experience is what it is, but at the same time, you know it’s something much more. You are witnessing a beautiful scenery, but you are also witnessing what dwells beyond this enchanting experience.
You can not find the words to explain it because there are no words to explain it. It’s both near and far; subjective and objective; personal and impersonal.
The finish line of an ultramarathon is not the destination. It’s the vehicle. The destination is the realization of the Divine.
It’s not a cold static place to find, but a warm dynamic reality to realize.
The best word to describe this is LOVE.
If you learn to experience this while you run, you will run for longer because you will not want to leave this divine state.
Can you imagine the possibilities?
Final Mindful Thoughts
I know nothing for sure, but I surely know love is the way.
Run away limiting beliefs until you find an alignment with infinite love. It’s here where you experience eternal certainty. This awareness is peace.
It can be found through self-emptying. This is why I fast while running long distances.
Running an ultramarathon, for me, is not an athletic competition, but instead, a spiritual journey.
Once I began ultramarathon running, I never looked back.
Ultramarathon running is the art of adapting the unbreakable conscious mind to the unbearable stresses of race day, fueled by the forever expansiveness of the invincible human soul, expressed through the simple forward movement of a pair of legs.
With that, I hope you enjoyed this mindful running motivation and have found a piece that will empower you to continue moving forward on your running journey.
Remember….. Stay patient…stay humble…and you will run for longer.
And if you would like to begin your mindful ultramarathon journey today, Click an option below to get started today!