Category Archives: Running

The Inner Running and the Outer Running.

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The body is like a temple, and the soul or inner reality is like the shrine inside the body-temple. If the temple does not have a shrine, then we cannot appreciate the temple. Again, if we do not keep the temple in good condition, then how can we take proper care of the shrine? We have to keep the body fit, and for this, running is of considerable help. If we are physically fit, then we will be more inspired to get up early in the morning to meditate. True, the inspiration to meditate comes from within, but if we do not have a stomach upset or headache or any other physical ailment, then it will be much easier for us to get up to pray and meditate. In this way the inner life is being helped by the outer life. Again, if I am inspired to get up early to meditate, then I will also be able to go out and run. Here we see that the outer life is being helped by the inner life.

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Both the outer running and the inner running are important. A marathon is twenty-six miles. Let us say that twenty-six miles is our ultimate goal. When we first take up running, we cannot run that distance. But by practising every day, we develop more stamina, speed, perseverance and so forth. Gradually we transcend our capacity and eventually we reach our goal

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We can say that our prayer and meditation is our inner running. If we pray and meditate every day, we increase our inner capacity. The body’s capacity and the soul’s capacity, the body’s speed and the soul’s speed, go together. The soul is running along Eternity’s Road. The outer running reminds us of our inner running. In this way our body reminds us of something higher and deeper — the soul — which is dealing with Eternity, Infinity and Immortality. Running and physical fitness help us both in our inner life of aspiration and in our outer life of activity.

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From: Sri Chinmoy, Sri Chinmoy answers, part 29, Agni Press, 2001
Sourced from Nils Lodin: How does running relate to your philosophy?

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Running helps us considerably. Running is continuous motion. Because of our running, we feel that there is a goal — not only an outer goal but also an inner goal. Running helps us by showing us that there is a goal. Again, running itself is a goal for those who want to keep the body in perfect condition.

Running offers us the message of transcendence. In our running, every day we are aiming at a new goal. It is like a child who studies in school. First he studies in kindergarten, then he goes to primary school, then to high school, college and university. After getting his university degree, still he is not satisfied. He wants to achieve more wisdom, more knowledge. Similarly, every day we are running towards a goal, but when we reach that goal, we want to go still farther. Either we want to improve our timing or increase our distance. There is no end. Running means continual transcendence, and that is also the message of our inner life.

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From: Sri Chinmoy, Sri Chinmoy answers, part 29, Agni Press, 2001
Sourced fromNils Lodin: Running has no value in itself?

Finding Peace and Harmony Through Running – An Interview

I recently gave an interview to Emily Turner (see her blog Thoughts Showcase), who is studying Media at Weston College. Here are my responses to her questions.

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What’s your name, age, and where are you from? 

Rasmivan Mark Collinson, 47 years young, originally from Penzance, Cornwall, now residing in Bristol. My birth name is Mark, however, my spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy gave me a spiritual  / soul’s name of Rasmivan. A spiritual name reflects the qualities of that person’s soul. Rasmivan means “bearer of rays”, and another name for the sun and the moon; it also refers to a deity of the universe.

Can you give me a basic outline of what it is that you do?

I have studied meditation with Sri Chinmoy, my Guru since 2004 until his passing in 2007, and I’m still an active member of the worldwide Sri Chinmoy Centre. Guru is a Sanskrit word that means ‘he who illumines’. I have always enjoyed running, but it was only in 2006 that I ran my first marathon. I then steadily progressed into ultra running and ran my first 24 Hour Race in 2009. In April 2013 I ran my first 6 Day Race – the Self-Transcendence 6 Day Race in New York. I run for the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team. I’m simply an amateur runner on a spiritual path.

When did you start running and how did you get involved? 

I started road running when I was about 15. I use to have some old non-descript trainers and one early morning (6am) I went out and ran around the streets around Penzance.  I enjoyed the stillness and peace of those early morning runs before school/college.  In those early days it was a way I could relax and have that sense of flow where nothing really mattered. Having a stammer / stutter as a teenager brought with it unrelenting fears in any speaking situation and low self-esteem on top of the usual teenage angst. Running was my release valve. The poem below better explains it.

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In the 1980s, road running was only just taking off here in the UK so where I lived there was not a running club but there was an Athletics Club in Camborne, which had an outdoor 400m track, but I couldn’t afford to get there and at the time my parents didn’t own a car. I was never coached and just picked up things from reading running books and Runner’s World magazine. As you can imagine my enthusiasm for running so much, progressing to running twice a day had a few repercussions and really I wasn’t training as well as I ought to with such misguided knowledge and application. That led to numerous overuse injuries, predominantly shin splints that restricted my running. I never had the confidence and had so much self-doubt that I was really any good that I never took the opportunity to be coached. I had a few friends who were far better runners than me who invited me along to run with them, as they were coached to regional and national standard, but I dismissed it as I didn’t think I was good enough. Looking back I should have taken that opportunity as perhaps I had potential and that could have been developed. But, I lacked any inking of self-belief. In a way this was as a result of having a stammer / stutter since the age of 8. And that’s a whole story in itself. And then in my late teens, I was so frustrated that I couldn’t run, I got to a stage that it was even painful to walk, and I drifted into my other group of friends who went out drinking and clubbing, as you do, to feel part of that social circle. The discipline and enjoyment of running became sporadic for a number of years until my energies were renewed when I became a student of Sri Chinmoy in 2004.

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What or who inspired you to start running?

When I was young I was a great admirer of Steve Ovett, Seb Coe and Steve Cram who were very talented middle distance runners, and then watching the first London Marathon on TV inspired me. It was like, I want to do that, and I can do that. But that inspiration ebbed and flowed and at times it was just a flicker.

My renewed inspiration to pick up running from those earlier years came from an inner urge to change my lifestyle of alcohol and smoking that had become increasingly dominant in my 20s and 30s. I was not a happy person and I had a feeling that I needed to change.  Then in my mid 30s, in 2004 I started meditating and became a disciple / student of a spiritual master, Sri Chinmoy. His promotion of running in general, ultra running and self-transcendence hit a chord with me. He said:

If we run, we see our capacities becoming fully manifested. Previously our capacities were dormant; they did not function inside us. But when we run, we bring to the fore our hidden capacities and are able to do something and become something …

A runner brings forward his capacity and becomes something. Then we see some champion runners, and he gets the inspiration to try to become an excellent runner. Perhaps he will one day excel and go beyond them. So there are always higher goals even after we have become something. Once we reach our first goal, we have to run towards a higher goal.

 Run and become.

Become and run.

Run to succeed in the outer world.

Become to proceed in the inner world”. [1]

Self-transcendence is the concept of making personal progress in different fields – physical, mental spiritual. Self-transcendence means we seek to exceed our previous achievements and extend our capacities.

“Self-transcendence gives us joy in boundless measure. When we transcend ourselves, we do not compete with others. We do not compete with the rest of the world, but at every moment we compete with ourselves.” – Sri Chinmoy

How have you had to adapt your lifestyle in terms of what you eat etc? 

Being on a spiritual path has its own set of rules and Sri Chinmoy advocated his disciples to eat a vegetarian diet, and to abstain from alcohol, smoking and drugs – the exact opposite of what I used to do! It took a period of 6 months to adapt and adopt this new lifestyle. At one point I was attempting to follow two paths – the spiritual one and remnants of my old life, but after New Year’s Eve of 2004, after drinking and smoking too much, it dawned on me you cannot split yourself and attempt to have your cake and eat it so to speak. I was only deluding myself and not being true to the person I ultimately wanted to become. It was all about transformation and making progress. So now after nearly 12 years, I don’t miss the drinking culture – I’m glad I don’t have to experience the lethargy and hangover after an over exuberant night; I was a bit of a party animal, and could never go out just for a few pints.

Being on a spiritual path has its challenges participating in everyday life. But, Sri Chinmoy wished his students to fully engage with the everyday and outer world whilst being on a spiritual path. His view was that meditating alone up in a Himalayan cave will not be beneficial to the world and assist in transforming the world’s consciousness. You try to follow the teachings of your spiritual Master. Running long distances and competing in ultra running and multi-day events enables me to live more in the moment and go beyond my perceived capacities. It also gives me immense joy and I’m a happier person for it. It’s just a different way of approaching life where you are guided by your spiritual Master to enable you to listen more closely to the dictates of your soul.

What’s been the best experience so far? 

In terms of my running experiences it has to be being part of an international team when I did 6 months of the European leg of the World Harmony Run in 2006 and the whole USA route in 2010. Also very special was organising the south west route of the GB run 2011.

In terms of my best race experiences it has to be the 72 hour race in Phoenix in 2013/14 when I was second male with 233 miles and my first 24 hour race in 2009 when I ran 112 miles.

Across the Years 2013-14 72 Hour Race

My 24 Hour Self-Transcendence Track Race Experiences 2009 & 2010 – Success, Failure and Progress

What’s the most important or significant thing you’ve learnt from your journey? 

ArtPics - Photography © Jake Olson

It is all about the journey and not ultimately about the destination. There is so much that I have gained and continue to gain from being on a spiritual path and participating in these ultra running races. I think ultimately, what Sri Chinmoy taught me, is to never, never, never give up, and always believe in your spiritual Master. There are so many stories and experiences I could tell you – one special instance is that of a Compassion Miracle of my Guru’s protection (A Spiritual Master’s Protection). I was running, hit by a car on a zebra crossing and I walked away with simply a tiny scratch on my arm. Endurance events are challenging and they push you out of your comfort zone, but ultimately from these experiences you grow and become stronger.

I read recently a quote on Facebook, “Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place”. This totally makes sense to me.

What is the most rewarding part of this experience?

I think it has to be eventually having a sense of contentment and happiness. Through the inner and outer challenges of ultra running life can make sense and become clearer. Scott Jurek, a famous American ultra runner made the comment that, “Running is not easy and it’s challenging. It’s that kind of good discomfort that cleanses us”.  When you’ve had the perfect run, you’ve cleared your soul.

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What has been your biggest achievement? 

That’s a hard question to answer, and I think in terms of my race performances it has to be finishing as second male with 233 miles in the 72 hour Across the Years Race in Phoenix, USA in 2013/14.

Are there any negatives? 

I can’t think of any.

What and when is your next exciting adventure?  

This year the European leg of the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run begins on 24th February in Porto and finishes on 8thOctober in Rome, and I will be part of an international team completing the whole European route.

In a world that is ever more connected and yet at the same time people feeling disconnected, this year gives me the opportunity to reconnect with my spirituality, with so many people and myself.  It will also enable me to return to the joys of running for peace and harmony that feeds my soul.

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The simple act of running to promote peace and harmony is a way of making a difference by touching the lives of so many people and taking their hopes for a more peaceful and harmonious world to the next town/village, the next city, the next country and the whole world. Many drops of water make an ocean.

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I fly out to Porto, Portugal on 23rd February and over the last 18 months of thinking and planning about the Peace Run it is finally reaching the time for me to leave my ‘normal’ life and embark on a great adventure. A few months ago I suppose I was getting cold feet, and had the usual doubts and fears on whether I was making the right decision to be on the Peace Run for such an extended time.  But, when I compared my experiences on previous Peace Runs and thinking about it sat in front of a computer at work writing another report, then it is a no brainer. Life is about seizing wondrous opportunities and living a life with no regrets. I’m definitely going to remember events and experiences that happen on the Peace Run that will remain with me forever. I couldn’t tell you what I did in the office last week, so that tells you something.

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Calvin and Hobbes Running

What advice would you give someone else wanting to run professionally?

Well, I’m not in the position to give advice as I don’t run professionally. That’s something that I’m not qualified to comment on.  However, there are general aspects that I’ve learned that can be given to anyone who wishes to be successful and gain contentment in anything what they do.

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  1. Believe in yourself. Have self-belief that anything is possible and never, never give up. Let no one tell you that you can’t do it, or it is not possible. It is important to be your own person.
  2. Dare to be different. I always remember Daley Thompson saying, “The only way to make a difference is to be different and do what the others are not doing ………  I train twice on Christmas Day because I know the others aren’t training at all, so it gives me two extra days”.
  3. Surround yourself with those that can nurture you. Be that friends and family who can believe in you and for any young sportsperson to become professional it is to find that coach that can keep you moving in the right direction and achieving those goals. Being part of a running club will help to structure your training, maintain a discipline and help to monitor your progress. Training with others inspires you to become better.
  4. Have a Goal. The anticipation of attempting something that you have prepared weeks, months or years for adds richness to life. Life can thrive in the presence of big goals and it can nourish the heart and soul.
  5. Adversity. Overcoming challenges makes you stronger. Not everything goes to plan, but it tends to change your life in many ways, most for the better.
  6. Simplicity. Keep your training simple and don’t over complicate it when it is not needed. Stay committed to your training plan. Be patient and don’t expect to be the best right away.
  7. Rest and recovery. Never underestimate the importance of rest to let you physically recover and mentally recharge. Nutrition is so important and helps your body to recover after races and intense training sessions. Keeping a sense of perspective and balance is so important, and listening to your body and intuition is key.

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[1] Sri Chinmoy (2008) The Inner Running and the Outer Running – Yogic Secrets for Better Running, p.13, New York: Aum Publications.

Running for Peace and Harmony – Reflections and the Future (Part 4)

Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run – Europe 2016

The journey begins again …

European route

After 2011 due to work and race commitments my involvement in the Peace Run had subsided.  Then whilst in New York in August 2014 the Director of the European Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run asked me whether I would be able to do the whole European route in 2016.  It was a coincidence or destiny as just 30 minutes prior I had been thinking of Sri Chinmoy and the need to participate in an extended time on the Peace Run.   Where there’s a will there’s a way they say.  Every time I have needed to go on the Run things just fall into place and my employer (a civil service department) has once again granted me unpaid leave, and I’m eternally grateful as always.

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This year the European leg begins on 24th February in Porto and finishes on 8th October in Rome.  In a world that is ever more connected and yet at the same time people feeling disconnected, this  year gives me the opportunity to reconnect with my spirituality, with so many people and myself.  It will also enable me to return to the joys of running for peace and harmony that feeds my soul.

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The simple act of running to promote peace and harmony is a way of making a difference by touching the lives of so many people and taking their hopes for a more peaceful and harmonious world to the next town/village, the next city, the next country and the whole world. Many drops of water make an ocean.

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I fly out to Porto, Portugal on 23rd February and over the last 18 months of thinking and planning about the Peace Run it is finally reaching the time for me to leave my ‘normal’ life and embark on a great adventure. A few months ago I suppose I was getting cold feet, and had the usual doubts and fears on whether I was making the right decision to be on the Peace Run for such an extended time.  But, when I compared my experiences on previous adventures and thinking about it sat in front of a computer at work writing another report, then it is a no brainer. Life is about seizing wondrous opportunities and living a life with no regrets. I’m definitely going to remember events and experiences that happen on the Run that will remain with me forever. I couldn’t tell you what I did in the office last week, so that tells you something.

I am very fortunate to have a spiritual Guru of Sri Chinmoy, and often I take it for granted. My Indian friend always comments that people would travel across oceans to have what you have in the form of your Guru, you are so, so lucky! Being on the Peace Run for such a long time will enable me to fully immerse and reconnect myself more in Guru’s light.

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And it is fitting that I should leave you with these words of Sri Chinmoy.

“Today’s chaotic world cannot remain chaotic. World harmony, world peace: these are not mere dictionary words. These are realities, divine realities and supreme realities. For all of us who are aspiring to become good citizens of the world, our World Harmony Run is a supremely important aspiration to all of us.

True, our physical bodies have not been and will not cover the length and breadth of the world. But the spirit that we have  deep within, and the spirit that we truly are, has covered the length and breadth of the world many, many times”. – Sri Chinmoy

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Running for Peace and Harmony – Reflections and the Future (Part 3)

World Harmony Run GB 2011 (12th June – 2nd July)

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As the countless drops

Of the boundless ocean

Or the myriad leaves

Of a huge banyan tree

Peacefully remain side by side

Even so all human beings

Will someday live side by side

In a perfect oneness-world.

~ Sri Chinmoy

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(See: http://www.worldharmonyrun.org/great_britain/news/2011.html for the daily web reports).

On the off years when there is not a continuous route through continents, each country organises special events and in 2011 the GB Team organised an international torch relay from John O’Groats to Land’s End. I was the Regional Co-ordinator for the South West.

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Once again I’ll let the photos do the talking 🙂

The route from Bristol to Land’s End:

Bristol Lands End route

A Bristol
B Wells
C Glastonbury
D Taunton
E Cullompton
F Exeter
G Dawlish Warren
H Torquay
I Dartmouth
J Kingsbridge
K Plymouth
L Looe
M Fowey
N St Blazey
O Eden Project
P St Austell
Q Truro
R St Agnes
S Porthtowan
T Land's End

Southwest schedule:

Date From To Total Miles
Tuesday 28th June Bristol Exeter 72
Wednesday 29th June Exeter Plymouth 77
Thursday 30th June Plymouth Eden Project 40
Friday 1st July Eden Project Marazion 54
Sdaturday 2nd July Marazion Land’s End 21
 Total 264

Generally when the European route comes through Britain we have never had the opportunity to visit the southwest so this was an amazing chance to showcase the region, and especially Cornwall to the runners. It was an opportunity for many people and children to experience that they too can make a difference and world harmony begins with them.

Summer, a cloud and a field, what more do you need

Summer, a cloud and a field, what more do you need?

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We assembled one of the most experienced international team of runners and they were a joy to work with and they responded in equal measure.

On top of Glastonbury Tor

On top of Glastonbury Tor

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Swapping the torch for some ice creams

Swapping the torch for some ice creams

We visited many schools where we gave presentations and gave the children the opportunity to hold the World Harmony Run torch and make a wish for peace and harmony as we teach them the motto, “Harmony begins with me”.

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World Harmony Run
Means the beauty
Of the universal heart
And the fragrance
Of the transcendental soul.

Sri Chinmoy, My Christmas-New Year-Vacation Aspiration-Prayers, Part 57, Agni Press, 2008.

Intensity of wishing for peace and feeling harmony inside your heart

Intensity of wishing for peace and feeling harmony inside your heart

 

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It's fun to run

It’s fun to run

Enthusiasm of wanting peace and harmony

Enthusiasm of wanting peace and harmony

It's good to laugh

It’s good to laugh

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0629_50 0629_29 We had a great laugh with the children We had a great laugh with the children Surfers 0701_49 0701_46 0701_19 0701_20

Thumbs up for harmony

Thumbs up for harmony

Peace is friendship

Peace is friendship

Peace is a warm and friendly smile

Peace is a warm and friendly smile

When the Team reached Bristol the glorious weather began and we were blessed with the most wonderful summer weather of lovely heat and sunshine.

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At the Eden Project we presented Torch-Bearer Awards[1]. These are presented to members of the community that are beacons in promoting peace and harmony.  We presented the Torch-Bearer Awards to Tim Smit (the then Chief Executive and co-founder of the Eden Project), Gaynor Coley (the then Managing Director of the Eden Project) and Ken Radford (owner of People and Gardens http://www.peopleandgardens.co.uk/ )

From l-r Ken Radford, Gaynor Coley and Tim Smit

From l-r Ken Radford, Gaynor Coley and Tim Smit

Ken & Lorraine Radford of People & Gardens

Ken & Lorraine Radford of People & Gardens

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How can we have peace?

Not by talking about peace,

But by walking

Along the road of peace.

Sri Chinmoy

On occasion of the WHR visiting the Eden Project 30 June 2011.

By the time we reached Penzance even I couldn’t believe how glorious the weather was and showcased Cornwall to its best. Our international runners from as far as America and Australia couldn’t believe they were in Britain.

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It was also a great occasion to introduce the World Harmony Run to my community of Penzance where I’m from and for my family to hold the torch.

My parents and sister holding the Torch

My parents and sister holding the Torch

We were very grateful for the Cornish Pirates Rugby Club to receive the Torch and we had a wonderful time meeting the players and the staff.

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Our final stretch of the run was from the Minack Theatre along the coastal footpath to Land’s End.

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m_0702_52 This was a great way to end the run and it took some time to get to Land’s End as the runners just had to stop and stare at the beauty around at every cove.

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The outer world
Needs
The beauty of harmony.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 50, Agni Press, 2009.

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The cliffs and the sea were just stunning.  I couldn’t stop smiling.  My cheeks and not my legs were aching by the end of the day.

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[1] http://www.peacerun.org/torch-bearer-award/  and Great Britain recipients: http://www.peacerun.org/gb/torch-bearer-award/

Running for Peace and Harmony – Reflections and the Future (Part 2)

World Harmony Run USA 2010

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In 2010[1] I had the wonderful experience of being part of the international team in USA and one of only few runners to complete the whole US route by running through every mainland US state.  As in Europe the format is the same but you tend to be running longer distances (average weekly miles of 120 – 150 miles) and it feels more of a pioneering spirit.

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Running through America tends to be a slightly different experience. The scenery and landscape of America is a sight to behold and so varied. Once you get out into the Midwest the horizon is endless and the sky so big and the roads so long as they disappear into the distance.  The beauty of nature tends to provide inspiration and energy for you to run long distances.

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As always I met some amazing people and what you get from American people is their enthusiasm and openness, and that ‘can do’ spirit which is so refreshing.

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As if it was destined, that year the US World Harmony Run returned to New York on my birthday of 17th August.  On 23rd August the Team officially finished our 10,000 mile, four month, 50 state relay at Dag Hammerskjold Plaza in Manhattan, New York with a closing ceremony. [2]

Closing ceremony

The photos and videos speak for themselves. This Run was a more heart opening experience for me than ever before. There were more times when you were running all alone and nothing but the sun on your back, the gentle breeze and the sound of your feet pounding the road. More so than ever before I appreciated the simplicity of life on the road and how the simple act of running with a flaming torch can touch so many peoples’ loves. The outpouring of love, enthusiasm and kindness of all the people I met was joyous. As always the children made an instant connection with the Peace Torch. Children tend to be all heart and love.

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As Sri Chinmoy commented in June 2007:

For children, we have the World Harmony Run. They hold the torch, and then they run, run, run, carrying the message of harmony. Now we do not have nay harmony. Throughout the whole world harmony is absent. The world is totally empty of harmony. The World Harmony Run has covered more than 76 countries. Little children run mile after mile and they get spontaneous joy. This joy we have lost because we have misused it, and we have done many things wrong. But children have done nothing wrong, so they have kept their joy. They get spontaneous joy, and they run and enter into their heart-garden, going from one flower to another. This world of ours needs harmony, harmony, harmony. Children are the most suitable to bring about harmony because for them it is something new and fresh. Children take each morning as a new dream.

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[1] See http://www.worldharmonyrun.org/usa/news/2010.html for the route through USA.

[2] See the full story and more photos http://www.worldharmonyrun.org/usa/news/2010/week18/0823.html

Running for Peace and Harmony – Reflections and the Future (Part 1)

The beginnings – 2004, 2006 & 2008

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I became a student of a spiritual teacher, Sri Chinmoy back in 2004 and I have been practising meditation[1] for the past 11 years with the Sri Chinmoy Meditation Centres.  And in that year I was introduced to the World Harmony Run. Little did I know it but it was something that was going to become an important aspect of my life. I would experience some of the most joyous and happiest moments in my life.

Sri Chinmoy

Sri Chinmoy

The Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run (previously known as the World Harmony Run between 2005 and 2013), founded by the spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy (http://www.peacerun.org/srichinmoy/) is a global relay that seeks to promote international friendship and understanding. Since its inception in 1987 the Run has traversed over 140 nations and touched the lives of millions of people. The Peace Run does not seek to raise money or highlight any political cause, but simply strives to create goodwill among peoples of all nations.

“The World Harmony Run carries this dream: through running we can unite people in the whole world.” – Tegla Loroupe

“When I carried the flaming torch, I felt so much oneness with all the people of the world. Each participant in the World Harmony Run will show that the hopes and dreams of man are more enduring than his fears. And the trials on the road to world-harmony are no greater than the courage of those who accept the challenge.” – Carl Lewis

 “Sport has incredible potential to promote peace and harmony in the world. Sport is a language that everyone can speak. It is not about the colour of your skin, your religion, your wealth, your disability – it is about being the best you can be. It is a wonderful foundation for life and for creating harmony in the world.” – Katrina Webb, Australian Paralympics Champion

Every two years continuous routes are organised in Europe, Africa, North America, Asia and Australasia in which teams of relay runners carry a flaming Peace Torch. By passing the torch from one person to the next, the relay offers people from many nations the opportunity to express their hopes and dreams for a better, brighter future. People from all walks of life hold the symbolic torch to wish for a peaceful world. Passing the torch from one person to the next unites us together in our common aspiration to offer something positive to our world – together we can make a difference!

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In 2006 I embarked on an amazing 6 month journey with the European leg of the World Harmony Run that was to take me through 30 countries and leave me with such wonderful memories that they will stay with me forever.  As I reflect on what only can be said as the time of my life I cannot help but smile and feel a loving sense of joy and happiness.  My words cannot truly convey fully my experiences as what I write seems inadequate on the myriad of images swimming in my mind and how many people touched my heart.

Brothers in arms with the mayor of Grocka, Serbia 2006

Brothers in arms with the mayor of Grocka, Serbia 2006

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Varvarin, Serbia - I was so grateful and moved by this young girl’s speech

Varvarin, Serbia 2006 – I was so grateful and moved by this young girl’s speech 

“Each step the runners make brings people and countries closer. Cultural and any other differences diminish in the power of their wish for a better world for all of us. The runners carry the torch of peace, understanding and love from country to country. Its flame warms up the hearts of all people who see it. The whole world could be one happy family. So, we should seek harmony and international peace. We should not be separated, we should erase borders. Imagine a world where love rules, where people smile and laugh! It isn’t impossible! But you must do your part in it! Let’s strengthen international friendship!” 

Having fun!

Having fun!

On the Peace Run you have so much fun, but at the same time there is an appreciation of how much work each individual has to contribute to the whole team to make the Run function day to day.  People often comment that the running must be the hardest part – how to keep running up to 20-30 km a day, every day.  But I feel that the running generally is the easiest part.  What people don’t see are the stamina, discipline and resilience that runners need to keep going on the road under generally demanding and challenging conditions.  There is sleeping in a different place every night, having no personal space, and there is always something that needs to be done – whether cleaning the vehicles, washing your kit, writing the daily report for the website, sorting out the food provisions, and after all these evening chores, to fit in some much needed rest.  But for me, all this is what makes the experience so special.  It’s good to have routines and each new runner that joins generally adapts to a World Harmony Run body clock – long, exhausting, but very happy days, with blissful sleep at the end of each day.

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Team dynamics are rather an interesting part of the Run.  The common thread that links us altogether is our aspiration for oneness and harmony and how each runner can help create this in the whole family.  It is this sense of oneness that is created within the Team.  It is not always harmony within the Team, but you find that you learn as much about oneself as about other people.

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The World Harmony Run is in a constant state of flux and has an energy and momentum all of its own.  The World Harmony Run runners do not make the World Harmony Run, but all those people that we meet and those that hold the torch and all those children that so joyfully run with us – they make the World Harmony Run what it is.

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Icelandic school children join together to hold the torch

Icelandic school children join together to hold the torch

All their wishes for a more harmonious world that they place into the flame are carried on to the next village, town, city, country and the whole of Europe and the World.  As a member of the international team I felt such gratitude to be given this opportunity to meet so many people.  For a fleeting moment the World Harmony Run torch touches peoples’ lives, but their heartfelt goodness, their smiles of young and old and express sincerity for harmony, joy and oneness remains for eternity.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland 2006

Blue Lagoon, Iceland 2006

Sri Chinmoy Peace Blossom. Oslo, Norway 2006

Sri Chinmoy Peace Blossom. Oslo, Norway 2006

Closing Ceremony, World Harmony Run at British Museum London 2006

Closing Ceremony, World Harmony Run at British Museum London 2006

If you can create harmony
In your own life,
This harmony will enter
Into the vast world  

– Sri Chinmoy

[1] Running and meditation will be a forthcoming article.

Quote

The Running Life

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There’s an overwhelming cultural mentality today that difficult tasks should be avoided; that volitional discomfort is an indication of some psychological oddity. Meanwhile, ultramarathons promise exactly the opposite; the expectation is that the race will be strenuous. Your body will get battered, your spirit will get broken, and you’ll question your sanity and emotional stability. (What’s more – you’ll pay somebody a lot of money in race fees for this to happen. If it weren’t for ultrarunning, there’d be a huge boom in masochism support groups. Clearly, we NEED this sport.) It’s no wonder most people think we’re insane.
But here’s the good part: our gain for suffering through all of this is something akin to enlightenment. We understand that our bodies and minds are capable of far more than most people ever realize – that the primary limiting factors in life’s journeys are the extent to which our minds can dream, and to which we’re willing to work to achieve them.
These truths we discover about ourselves are what keep us coming back for more. In that regard, ultrarunners are the fishermen leaving the shore: we’re fully aware that the storms might be terrible – but the rewards we harvest by venturing into the sea are always worth the hardship.
-Donald Buraglio, The Running Life: Wisdom and Observations from a Lifetime of Running – via Gibson’s Daily Running Quotes

Review of 2013 and upcoming prospects for 2014

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He who thrives on challenges can accomplish extraordinary things in life.
– Sri Chinmoy.
 
One approach is to think of the hurdles that you face in life.  Another approach is to think of the joy that you will get after crossing over the hurdles.
– Sri Chinmoy.

The year 2013 has been quite a year for me. It was all about seizing opportunities and having new experiences. I’d competed in more ‘big’ races (marathon distance and beyond) than any other year. It was a year of ups and downs, but I’m glad to say certainly more ups than downs. In my work life it was also similar and I was fortunate to be selected to spend three months in Rome which enabled me to compete in the Rome Marathon in March, and then the Florence Marathon in November – happy times.

Race Results 2013

Date Race Terrain Distance Outcome Pace
29/12/2013 Across the Years 72 Hour race mixed 232.01M 72:00:00 18:37
24/11/2013 XXX Firenze Marathon road Mara 03:17:37 07:33
20/10/2013 Eden Marathon mixed Mara 03:41:41 08:28
29/09/2013 Grand Pier Half Marathon road Half 01:34:32 07:13
21/04/2013 Self Transcendence Six Day Race road 380M 144:00:00 22:45
17/03/2013 Rome Marathon road Mara 03:17:52 07:33
24/02/2013 Barry Track 40 track 40M 05:15:31 07:53

I was able to set PBs in the marathon and 40 mile races which I was very pleased about. I’ve still got some speed, but in all the years that I’ve been running has shown that I’m not a fast runner, but my body maybe better adapted for endurance. I also don’t have sufficient pace to get a good mileage in 24 hour races. My best to date is 114 miles (Basel: 114.28 miles; 2012).

Ever since 4 years ago I had a vivid dream that I was running in the 3100 mile race and Sri Chinmoy was present in that dream, I have set my sights on running in this race one day. I’m looking at the possibility of 2016 or 2017. To enable me to be considered I am required to get the qualifying distance of 600+ miles for the 10 day race.

So, this year I took the first step on that journey by running in the Self-Transcendence 6 Day Race in New York in April.

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Despite having a really bad chest infection a week prior and during the race I ran 380 miles, finishing 7th overall.

I was happy with this performance but my body is not yet sufficiently robust enough as I got Achilles tendon problems on the fourth day and really struggled for mileage in the second half of the race.  However, William James’ quote below was very apt and it allowed me to push through and finish the race.

William James quote

I underestimated how much the 6 Day Race took out of me. For 5 weeks afterwards my immune system was severely weakened and I couldn’t shift the chest infection and persistent cough. Eventually it took a course of antibiotics for me to completely recover. I then badly stubbed my big toe on the stairs at home and that knocked my running form for six.  So, it was a struggle to get any consistency in my running, and I was plagued with energy issues – constantly feeling tired and totally exhausted. In October I saw a kinesiologist who identified a number of imbalances affecting my overall health during an initial screening process. In no particular order these were as follows: chemical and metal toxicity toxicity; yeast infection (Candida); nutritional imbalances; structural problem; imbalance related to the type exercise I take and my physiological makeup; chronic dehydration (likely to be cellular based rather than kidney related); food allergy / intolerance; adrenal stress; low cellular energy (energy chemistry in your cell mitochondria not efficient). Other than that I was fine, hahaha! Well, at last I got a diagnosis, more that what my doctor could say, other than it is probably a virus and come back and see me in three months time; not much use to say the least.

From June onwards I began to get a persistent niggle in the inside of the left knee that progressively got worse, to a point it was seizing up and giving way. Both my osteopath and physiotherapist treatments were not alleviating it and then I made the decision to get a MRI scan on it. Thankfully it revealed no abnormalities or any meniscus tears.

Races Review 2013

My race year as always started at the end of February with the Barry 40 miles Track Race and I was in good shape having come through the winter season fairly well. The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team tends to send a runner each year to this race and it is one we love to support. I targeted 5:15 and finished just outside that with 5:15:31. It was a bitterly cold day and the track can get very windy making running down the back straight a challenge and making runners work hard.

Photos at Barry 40 – 2013 (copyright Paul Stillman) (I’m number 282)

Photos below from Barry 40, 2013  Copyright All rights reserved by Les Stills

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I was very pleased with my performance and I’m hoping to run in the race again this year (9th March) and would hope to get as close to 5 hours as possible. In a way in depends how quickly I can recover from ATY and resume back to full training within the next few weeks.

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As I was out in Rome for the whole of March with work commitments I decided it was a great opportunity to run in the Roma Marathon. It was a beautiful way to see the city and I finished up with a new PB.

Lido di Ostia on the beach 22 March 2013

As I mentioned April was a leap into unknown territory with the  Self-Transcendence 6 Day Race. I am so grateful and indebted to the advice and knowledge imparted to me from my good friend Abichal (6 times finisher of the 3100 mile race!).

With the energy issues and constant niggles it was rather ambitious to try and target the Self-Transcendence 24 Hour Track Race in London in September. I decided to give this race a miss as I had made a commitment to run in the Eden Marathon down in Cornwall in October for the charity People and Gardens.

I tested out my fitness and the knee my running in the Grand Pier Half Marathon down in Weston-Super-Mare three weeks prior to the Eden Marathon. It wasn’t a brilliant performance and I lacked any pace, going off too fast in the first half and struggled to hang on in the second half of the race. But it was a good run out under race conditions.

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The Eden Marathon was a challenging course as about three quarters of it is off road and on trails, but I was more than happy to run on behalf of People and Gardens to raise much needed funds.

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The course was rather muddy and during the race there were torrential downpours with thunder and lightning.  I thoroughly enjoyed the race and it was great to finish in the grounds of the Eden Project with my family and Ken and Lorraine Radford (from People and Gardens) waiting for me at the finish.

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Again I was out in Rome in November for work and the Florence Marathon beckoned. Florence is such a beautiful city and has a wonderful Italian ambience. An amazing coincidence occurred. I met a wonderful Italian guy at the start of the Rome Marathon in March, and whilst I was warming up at the start of the Florence Marathon we bumped into each other again. The Italians are so warm, friendly and affectionate. We had perfect weather for the race, bathed in autumnal sunshine and slightly cool. The support on the course was amazing and it was a better atmosphere than the Rome Marathon. It’s a fast course and I paced it just right to get a new PB by 15 seconds. I didn’t want to run this race hard as I was conscious I wanted to recover quickly for ATY 72 Hour Race.

And well, ATY was a special way to end 2013 and begin 2014 – see my earlier post on this.

Goals and Aims for 2014

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Man’s time is unimaginably precious and unbelievably limited.
– Sri Chinmoy

I had such an awesome 2013 it is going to be difficult to better it. I did more travelling in 2013 than any other year, but this requires financing. I was indebted to my parents for assisting me with the trips to America. So, I’m hoping to win the lottery, hahahaha! Competing in multiday races is not cheap and there are always on going costs with kit, osteopath and physio treatments, food supplements, sports massages, etc, etc. I had intended to run the Self-Transcendence 6 Day Race in New York again, but due to difficulties getting time off work and the cost of flying over to America I’m targeting the following races:

Proposed Race Calendar
March Barry 40 Track Race; Self-Transcendence London to Brighton (50 miles) (Sri Chinmoy AC run)
May EMU 6 Day Race, Hungary
July / August 2 or 3 marathons (yet to decide) or participate in the Peace Run North America (13 June – 18 July)
September Adelaide 6 Day Race (?)
December ATY 72 Hour Race

This race schedule is in an ideal scenario and I haven’t really thought about how I would pay for all of this. But, I will take each race as it comes. The key for me is to stay fit and healthy and I need to put in place plans for my training, injury prevention and health. And more importantly it is about getting the right work / life balance. I don’t know what will happen with my work situation as I’m awaiting the outcome of a job promotion in my civil service department. Achieving this would be give the increase in salary to pay to attend these planned races. But will I be granted the time off work to enable me to attend these races? Who knows – that is out of my hands. I hope events will unfold in a fortuitous manner.

In the meantime these are some of my plans and objectives for 2014:

Injury prevention
– biomechanics assessment to address recurring muscle imbalances
– work on improving running form
– Yoga
– do more core strength training
 
Health and Well-being
– address the candida
– further kinesiology tests to be done
– meditate more
– to live more in the moment
 
Training
– incorporate weighted vest training
– review other running shoes to use for multidays (Brooks Transcendence out in March)
– Yoga for Sport weekly sessions.
 
Long term targets
– April 2015: Self-Transcendence 10 Day Race
– 2016: Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race
 
 Achieve something great outwardly. Many on earth will admire you and even adore you for what you have done. Achieve something good inwardly. Countless people will get a tremendous inner uplift from your very presence on earth.
– Sri Chinmoy

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