Soaring through the trails, with a smile on my face, finally…I figured out how to run longer! The sun was on my back, and the inspiration poured out from my soul—it felt unreal.
The morning breeze was electrifying. I was unsure if the goosebumps shooting down my arms rose from the cool morning breeze or the perception of the impossible transforming into my new reality.
The final stretch of your first 100 mile ultra marathon is beyond words. It’s a uniquely gratifying journey. Your body and mind feel broken in pieces. Yet your spirit…yes, your glorious spirit is still shining bright. And the closer you come to the finish line, the less you can feel your legs.
You would think the numbness was from the brutal beating of the last 24 hours of quad crushing mileage…but it’s not. Instead, it’s from the intense joy that flushes through every cell of your being as you levitate to the finish line.
In that sense, you don’t run across the finish line of your first 100 mile ultra marathon…you float across it. That’s the power of running from deep within…that’s the power of the invincible human soul!
Is running an ultra marathon easy? No, it’s not. It’s a rather challenging experience. Running an ultra marathon takes a significant amount of training and dedication. But is it doable for you? … Yes, it is. You are capable of more than you could ever imagine.
Because as long as you have a beating heart, anyone can run any distance. It just takes patience in the journey, faith in the unknown, and a belief in your abilities.
Do you know what else helps you to learn how to run longer?
The answer: understanding some of the natural powers that are available to each of us. The fact is that we are human beings, we are born to run. In one of the best-selling running books of all time, BORN TO RUN, Chris McDougall tells us…
“Running was mankind’s first fine art, our original act of inspired creation. Way before we were scratching pictures on caves or beating rhythms on hollow trees, we were perfecting the art of combining our breath and mind and muscles into fluid self-propulsion over wild terrain. And when our ancestors finally did make their first cave paintings, what were the first designs? A downward slash, lightning bolts through the bottom and middle–behold, the Running Man.
Distance running was revered because it was indispensable; it was the way we survived and thrived and spread across the planet. You ran to eat and to avoid being eaten; you ran to find a mate and impress her, and with her you ran off to start a new life together. You had to love running, or you wouldn’t live to love anything else. And like everything else we love–everything we sentimentally call our ‘passions’ and ‘desires’ it’s really an encoded ancestral necessity. We were born to run; we were born because we run. We’re all Running People.”
And after running over 100 ultra marathon distances myself, one distance of 200 miles in length, I can confidently say I agree with his examination. Running doesn’t feel as much as an act of achievement, as it does, a way of life.
Human beings are runners, just like we are walkers, standers, and eaters. And although running is natural for us, some take it to its extreme…
Just look at some of the incredible bouts of human endurance that have taken place on our planet…
Whether it’s the runners who race in The Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race each year.
Or the 200+ runners who have ran across the United States.
Or even running from a spiritual sense, like the Marathon Monks who run 1,000 marathons in 1,000 days.
As you can see, individuals from all sides of the globe are reaching far beyond their perceived limitations for all different reasons. And if you take advantage of the powers available to you, then you will begin to see measurable results. Soon running a longer distance transforms from a slight possibility to an absolute certainty.
So read on for 6 natural powers available to you for learning how to run longer. And remember —if you keep reaching past your perceived limitations, eventually, outside your comfort zone becomes the new inside, and what once seemed difficult is now what you do best.
The Power of Adaptation
How can someone go from running a schoolyard hill to climbing Mount Everest?
How can a person go from barely getting out of bed in the morning, crippled from the stresses of life, to running their first marathon?
And how can someone like myself go from running a few miles on a treadmill to a 200 mile ultra marathon?
What’s the secret? Is it magic?
Nope…no hocus pocus here.
There are a few reasons how, but what makes it possible physically is through “adaptation.” We as human beings are adaptation machines! We stress, heal, and grow back stronger to withstand new stresses. Because of this, I think it’s fair to say that adaptation is quite possible the genius of the human animal. It’s survival.
An adaptation is a mutation, or genetic change, that helps living things survive in its environment. The adaptation can be physical (body) or behavioral (mind).
What does that mean for runners? It means that if you gradually increase your mileage then you will gradually adapt. And that goes for your body as well as your mind. Soon mile 10 feels like the old mile 5, and mile 15 feels like the old mile 10, and mile 20 feels like mile 15, and so on.
Simply put, the human body knows how to run longer, and it starts with adaptation.
Let’s summarize: we’re human beings, and as a human being, 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 figure out how to run longer. And that’s where the second power comes in…
The Power of Progression
The word “progress” comes from the Latin word “progredi” meaning to “walk forward and advance.” It’s a forward and onward motion. No, it doesn’t have to be forced, but it does require ACTION.
Remember this: Every one of your dreams is patiently sitting right outside of your comfort zone.
If you reach beyond your limitations, then guess what? Growth is a guarantee! And even more so, new limitations are created. In that sense, growth is a way of life. The renewal process IS life as we invariably evolve, reproduce, and progress.
A person who wants to learn how to run longer takes action. They put in the miles. And why not? Because if you aren’t moving forward, then you are moving backwards.
What do I mean exactly?
Well, life is dynamic, it’s far from static. If you’re not becoming more enduring, you are becoming less. If you are not becoming stronger, you are becoming weaker. And if you are not stepping outside of your comfort zone regularly, then your comfort zone reduces in size.
Having hope for a brighter tomorrow provides us with more joy for a promising today.
Progress is the lifeblood of long distance running. And here’s the good news: you can simply follow a running program to progress to race day. The 10% rule is king.
The 10% rule states a runner should progress their mileage only by 10% each week. This way you cover your mileage and run just farther enough to grow but not too far where you do more harm than good. For example, injury or burnout.
I offer many guides and training programs for reaching new distances in my books. The guides are always here for you. The only question becomes…will you take action? That’s a question only you can answer…
These guides will surely teach you how to run longer and steer you across the finish line. No matter the distance.
And when discussing progress, I’m not only referring to running. Progress is essential in all aspects of training. Try to gain ground in everything you do.
Jump out of bed faster each time before your run. Or make healthier choices more often. Or replace more of your energy-draining negative thoughts with more self-empowering positive thoughts.
Here’s the point. Unless you progress, you’ll digress, and you may not even realize it. Also, progress is the fuel for teaching your body how to run longer distances. And if you make it a constant, you will find your running goals come much easier.
Why do they seem easier?
The answer: momentum. And that’s your next power, that is, the power of momentum.
The Power of Momentum
Have you ever tried pushing a broken-down car? I have, I can think of a few occasions. In fact, one time I helped push a car off the road in the middle of a training run.
Here’s the point: when you try pushing the car from a standstill, it takes a lot of energy. But once you get it rolling, pushing becomes much easier. As long as you have momentum, it takes less energy.
So what happens if the car stops? What happens then?
When the car reaches a standstill, you’re back to square one. Now it takes much more energy to get the tires moving again.
That’s momentum. It’s the force of strength gained by motion.
And it doesn’t only work for car tires, it works for running shoes as well. That’s right, momentum also helps you increase running stamina. Think about it. When you first start running, how do you feel?
Usually not so great.
But then you find your groove, and how do you feel then?
If you’re doing things right, chances are, you feel pretty good. And your mindset does a one-eighty. Suddenly, you can’t BELIEVE you didn’t want to go for a run in the first place. It’s here where moving forward becomes easier.
Now…what if you stop in the middle of your run and sit down to rest? Well, starting back up takes a substantial amount of energy. You lose momentum.
There’s a saying in ultra marathon running: “beware of the chair.” That’s because if you sit down in the late stages of a 100 mile race, it becomes incredibly difficult to find the energy to start running again.
But guess what? Even with a pummeled pair of legs, once you get moving, you gain momentum. Now running becomes relatively easier than it was when you first left the chair. I’ve been there many times—trust me.
Okay, so you may be thinking: I get it, but it takes time to find that groove. The beginning of my run is always tough. Is there a way I can gain momentum faster?
And the answer is…ABSOLUTELY!
To do so, consider “priming the pump.” In other words, gain some momentum before your run. This teaches your body how to run longer before leaving the house.
How do you “prime the pump”?
To do so, close your eyes and perform a quick meditation. About 10-15 minutes is enough time. During your meditation, focus on your heart and visualize all the things you’re grateful for in your life.
This doesn’t have to be a time to consider all your accomplishments (although, feel free!). It can be as simple as finding an appreciation for the warm morning sun on your face. Or a leaf on the outside tree. Or the clean drinking water that pours out from your faucet.
Why does meditating on gratitude create momentum? Why does gratitude enhance your energy?
First, it shifts your focus to the present moment. In the present moment, your past and future worries —that have the tendency to wear you down—VANISH.
Also, gratitude pulls you away from any possible disempowering stories you may live with and creates a new story of love and appreciation. That means no more excuses or self-limiting beliefs that prevent you from mastering how to run longer distances.
And lastly, you will find that gratitude improves your mood and increase your vibration…
“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration.”
Here’s the take home: after your gratification meditation…your pump is primed. You now have momentum, and you’ll find your groove quicker.
I enjoy a quick meditation before every run and race. Meditating gets my body prepared and my mind in the right place. After a pre-run meditation, when you start moving your feet, it’s like you’ve already been moving your feet for miles. And when you reach a higher state, you begin aligning with the power of intention…
The Power of Intention
Our mind is an extraordinarily powerful tool. Yet what’s most powerful is when we direct our focus. There’s an old proverb that tells us “energy flows where attention goes.”
And in my understanding, that’s what setting an intention is all about. Yes, you may declare a goal like running your first marathon or 50k, but it takes setting an intention to wake up and run each training day to reach that goal.
Goals create guidance, intentions inspire action.
How else could you reach your running goals?
There’s a need for goal setting. However, goals keep your mind in the future. Setting an intention, on the other hand, is about directing your focus in the present moment towards your goals.
Have you ever set a goal so big that it became paralyzing? A goal with so many directions to choose from that you hesitated to take action? Stuck in the world of contemplation without ever making any progress?
Maybe that’s what your journey of learning how to run longer feels like right now.
If so, it’s time to set an intention. Every intention you set is one step down the path towards your goal. Let the answers come to you through intuition, but when they do, set an intention…and take inspired action.
When I set a goal to run in the morning, if it’s pouring rain, I may skip it. But when I intend to run, there is no option because I’ve already begun taking action. The moment I set the intention is the moment my run started, even if it’s the night before. The rain is no more than extra resistance that has become a part of my inevitable training run.
Setting an intention is what propels your body into motion. Otherwise, the distance becomes nothing more than a dream that dies in your mind.
So don’t just set a goal, set an intention, and watch your tremendous focus guide you to increase your endurance.
Setting an intention helps anchor your mind in the present moment, so your goals become easier to achieve. And so does focusing on your breathing…
The Power of Breath
How many times have you heard these words? When you are panicking…” just breathe.” When you are exhausted…” just breathe.” When you are angry…” just breathe.”
Although we take approximately 20,000 breaths per day, how often do we do so consciously?
Consciously breathing helps you detach from your emotions while running. No longer are you a slave to your mind, but now…an observer of thought. This holds tremendous power when teaching your body how to run longer.
Now instead of fighting that voice that SCREAMS to stop…you observe it. Instead of creating more resistance…you let go…and can run longer.
And wait…there’s more…
Running long distances wears your body down. So it’s critical to develop energy any way possible. That’s where deep breathing comes in.
Here’s the thing. Breathing provides oxygen to your moving muscles, thus creating more energy for your runs. The more you focus on your breathing technique, the more energy you can create. When you breathe deeply, it increases your oxygen supply; this, in turn, helps you run longer and faster.
Did you know that most adults only use part of their lung capacity? Some experts say that shallow breathing is a bad habit mainly developed from years of chronic stress and anxiety.
The key is to breathe deep into your abdominal, not just your chest. If you’ve ever witnessed a baby sleeping, then you may have noticed them breathing in a similar fashion. If you look closely, you’ll see their stomach rise with each breath. Breathing through the abdominal is our natural form and promotes the use of our lungs at full capacity.
Plus, it’s my understanding that deep breathing helps detoxify the body, relaxes the mind, and improves posture. Also, I read that it can strengthen the heart, lungs and immune system, not to mention the positive effects it has on the nervous system.
Try it for yourself. From my own experience, deep breathing has boosted my energy levels and improved my running stamina. Mix that with how it can relieve unwanted tension, and you’re on a direct path to one incredibly vibrant run. A run you enjoy, and a run you love…
The Power of Love
In 10 Mindful Running Tips You Should Know, I write…
“I started running ultra distances to achieve something great, and then, it led me to something much more profound. My pride transformed into gratification. It’s been a humbling experience.
When I’m running deep into an unfathomable distance, I tap into something much larger than who we are or what we are. It’s a natural flow…a flow of life, that flow is love.
For the inner runner, for the spirit, for the soul….love is home. Union, love, togetherness…this is home.
If you find love in your running, then it departs from a goal-oriented process. The more you run, the more the ego breaks down, and the more you align with your soul’s purpose.
In this sense, I don’t run numerous ultra marathons to find achievement or because I’m addicted, I run because well…
I’m home sick…”
When you run with love, you find meaning in the miles and grace in your pace.
Running long distances doesn’t necessarily get rid of your demons as much as it provides the courage to face them. Because on the other side of your darkest fears lies the light of your infinite power. That power is LOVE.
And how do you tap into it?
Easy…just let go…
For some, however, running from a vulnerable state is emotionally uncomfortable. That’s the ego. The ego wants to survive, and it loses its dominance as you detach from it.
That’s why it takes courage to surrender…
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
No, it’s not always easy to lead with love. And there’s no perfectionism in letting go. Forcefully surrendering defeats its purpose.
As a person who runs ultra marathons , I find myself digging much deeper within my self than the distance. The distance I run outwardly is nothing more than a reflection of how deep I’m willing to go inwardly.
So even when finding love while running feels counterintuitive, or even a bit paradoxical…try to let go anyway…
“People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered…
…Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives…
…Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies…
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you…
…Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight…
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous…
…Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow…
…Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough…
…Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.”
A Final Powerful Thought
When will you know you mastered how to run longer?
It takes a leap of faith…
Signing up for a longer race takes a jump into the unknown.
Yes, the enthusiasm to start a training program helps, the determination to finish is useful, and the courage to reach the starting line makes things easier.
However, standing at the starting line, I doubt you will feel ready…I never did. Yet, if you think about it, isn’t that true for anything new in life?
I don’t think it mattered how many baby books I read, I never felt 100% ready to be a parent. And then one day, my son was placed into my arms for the first time, and in a MOMENT, parenthood made sense in its entirety…
Of course you make mistakes…but you understand the greater meaning of it.
It’s a natural occurrence. Some things are better learned experientially. And these experiences take a leap of faith…
So when you jump into the unknown to run a longer distance, you begin to understand that running is natural. It’s a part of the human experience. You realize it’s no more complicated than moving your feet forward. And learning how to run longer comes instinctively.
So have faith in your power and yourself, and whatever the distance, whatever the goal, whatever the intention…do it with PURPOSE.
Find your purpose and run with your heart…
“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”
And if you are feeling inspired, here’s your next step…
The Ultramarathon Guide: A Simple Approach To Running Your First Ultramarathon. It provides a straight path with a simple to follow training program to get you across the finish line of your first ultra marathon. It’s what got me across my first one.
And if you are looking to save time, check out my other book, A Runner’s Secret: One Run Will Get It Done. I teach you how to run ANY distance by running ONE day per week. It’s what I used to reach the 100-mile ultra marathon. I provide training programs for the 5k, 10k, half-marathon, marathon, 50k, 50-mile, 100k, and 100-mile distances.
And if you haven’t already subscribed to our newsletter for exclusive quotes and content, please enter your email below. Thank you and Live On The Run!