There are spiritual gifts in Ultra-Running that amp your game. Many people do not expect to uncover these gifts when they first discover the sport. Most people do not equate running to spirituality at all. Unless, that is, you’re already part of that tribe. An Ultra-Marathon is considered any distance over 42 km (26.2 miles for my US fans). One of the unique things about the sport of Ultra-running is that most of these events are done on a trail in Nature. We run in a forest, through a desert, or up and down a mountain.
Since time immemorial, humankind has received gifts from Mother Nature. Many gifts simply come to us with no effort on our part. A beautiful sunset, the gift of an eagle soaring overhead, or the sounds of running water, are all things that we can experience from time to time. Ultra-Running is the art of going out and finding those experiences. When a person decides to set out on foot, they increase their chances of becoming a witness to the many miracles in Nature. The difference between hiking and running is not only the distance that is covered, but also the heightened sense of awareness that is gained.
Perhaps these Ultra-runners may be onto something that the general public is missing. There are many stories of saints, sages and monks setting out on long journeys to find a deeper meaning to their life. Many of these special people were seeking to become closer to God. Perhaps Ultra-running could be seen as a pilgrimage like the ones taken by so many evolved humans over thousands of years of existence.
There are people who run these long distances who claim that treacherous conditions make them feel alive. When a person feels that they are running to survive, there is an interesting switch in the mind. People describe the experience as being completely submerged in the moment. They are describing a powerful thing called Present Moment Awareness.
Our brains are designed to solve problems. When our problems aren’t big enough, the Ego will create problems for us to solve. Sometimes, the Ego is having so much fun with this that it will create a new problem by solving the current one. The key is to get broken down enough that there is no place to go. When you set your sights on a huge goal and you feel uncertain that you can even accomplish the task, you challenge yourself at the deepest level. When you put yourself in a situation where there is no way out, you will inevitably find a way.
Once you reach the emptiness, you have made your way into the eye of the storm. This place of emptiness is where you can make the choice to do things differently. You can reinvent anything about yourself when you reach this inner darkness. Running for hours at a time, all alone, can help you get there. It takes a special kind of human, but not a Superhuman.
I know, I know, it sounds painful. And it is. But that is okay, because when you challenge yourself to do more than you thought you could do, you destroy that part of the Ego. Conquering your limitations and moving beyond your fears is how sh*t gets done, my friends. It is how you transform on a Soul Level. It is a Soul Change.
Start out by running on some trails, if you’re not already. If you have run a marathon before, you already have the “base” of running experience. You just need to start running 70 – 90% on the trails. Make sure to challenge yourself by running lots of hills, and start to bring mindfulness into your step. When you run more technical trails, with lots of roots, rocks and uneven ground, you immediately become more mindful.
If you have never run a marathon distance before, you will want to find a marathon training program. There is most likely a group clinic at your local running store. Make sure to incorporate running on the trail a good majority of the time, as it is an excellent core and strength training workout.
Lastly, do the mental training necessary to overcome your challenges. Once you choose an event to participate in, take a look at the course profile and description. Visualize the run, seeing yourself as light, strong, quick and agile. See yourself coming up against challenges such as extreme fatigue, muscle pain and even chafing. But also see yourself overcoming these challenges. Know that you can achieve anything you want in life, but your mental state controls at least 80% of your success or failure.
Good Luck & Run Happy!
Ultra Events I recommend for first-timers: