Be ExtraOrdinary

Its all in your head

The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei Japan run 1000 days of marathons as part of their training in Tendai Buddhism.

They start their day at 1:30 am with an hour of prayer before the days running. Daily chores such as cleaning the temple have to be completed after the run. Then its back to bed by 9pm. The 1000 days is broken down as follows.

Year 1 to 3 – 30km each day for 100 consecutive days in each year.
Year 4 and 5 – 30km each day for 200 consecutive days in each year.
At the end of the 5th year after completing the 200 consecutive days the monk must go for 9 consecutive days without food, water or rest.
Year 6 – 100 consecutive 60 km runs.
Year 7 – 100 consecutive 84 km runs followed 100 consecutive 30km runs.
The monk may withdraw from the challenge up to 100 days without any form of sanction. From day 101 the penalty for withdrawal is ritual suicide.

One thing that stands out for me is the level of commitment required to take on such a herculean task. Finish or die – that’s commitment.


What do we do when we’re hurting during a race? Do you pack it in and wait for the rescue? or do you keep going as if your life depends on it? I’ve noticed that my decision is tainted by how easy the rescue is. I’ll find a way. If there is no chance of rescue, to rescue myself. On the other hand I’ve quit when I could have recovered and continued because the ambulance/nurse/doctor or bus station was right there.

Self rescue when you have no option is actually a relief. It’s just a case of relentless forward progress, one foot in front of the other and keep going till you’re done. It should always be that simple. A great sportsman once said ‘pain is temporary but quitting lasts forever’. I’ve withdrawn from races and on those occasions I’ve always had a plausible reason, but every DNF hurts and haunts me.

The biggest muscle in an athletes body is between the ears. When you tear that muscle your race is run, your match lost. “It’s all in the head” we’ve heard so often. Many times and in many tough situations a simple change of mind can be the beginning of greatness.

I’m done with quitting.