#132 : 3100miles: Run and Become

 with Film Maker/Runner Sanjay Rawal 

How to transcend your own limits - spirituality/meditation and running

Sanjay Rawal worked in the human rights and international development sectors for 15 years in over 40 countries before focusing his love for photography and storytelling onto filmmaking.
His first feature, Food Chains (2014), premiered at the 2014 Berlinale and screened at Tribeca before securing domestic distribution from Screen Media. The film was produced by Eva Longoria and Eric Schlosser and narrated by Forest Whitaker.  It went on to screen in 1,100 more theaters during its theatrical, semi-theatrical & community screening tour.


A lifelong runner, Sanjay was happy to lose the pounds he gained eating Mexican food in farmworker towns and take on a project about running. His latest film, 3100: Run and Become, opened in theaters in fall 2018 and comes to New Zealand in February 2020.
 
Sanjay learned under spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy and studies in this film the power of running to connect humans to powers beyond themselves.
The film follows the incredibly long and brutal 3100-mile race held every year in New York City as well as diving into the long human history of long-distance running visiting The Mt Heiei Monks in Japan to the Navajo Indians to the Kalahari Bushmen.
A film not to be missed and an interview to open the mind to new possibilities.
 
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Transcript of the Podcast:
 
Speaker 1: (00:01)
Welcome to pushing the limits, the show that helps you reach your full potential with your host, Lisa [inaudible], brought to you by Lisatamati.com

Speaker 2: (00:13)
You're listening to pushing the limits with Lisa Tamati. Welcome back everybody. Today I have a very, very special podcast, but before we get underway, I just want to remind you, if you want to reach out to me, you can do that at lisatamati.com Find me on Instagram. I'm very active on Instagram at least to [inaudible] the same on Facebook. And I'd love you to come and check out our website and our flagship programs. We have three programs. We mainly do our work and we have the epigenetic program, we have the run online run trading system running hot, and we also have mindset you, which is all about mental toughness, resilience, and being the best version of yourself that you can be. So make sure you go and check those lisatamati.com Right now. Today we have a very special guest all the way from New York city.

Speaker 2: (01:05)
His name is Sanjay revile. Have you haven't heard of? Sanjay? He is an internationally renowned filmmaker. He was in the human rights and international development sector for 15 years and worked in over 15 so over 40 countries before he tuned his love for photography and storytelling into his new career, which is filmmaking. He's done a number of films. I'm most well known as his feature film, his first feature film called food chains. This was produced with Eva Longoria and Eric Schlosser and was an over 1100 theaters worldwide. And his latest film is what we're going to be talking about today. Now Sanjay is a lifelong runner. He's dedicated to doing just this running. And he was also a follower of the late Sri chum NOI, who many of you runners may know of. He was a Indian spiritual leader who died in 2007, but he was very much into unifying religions and to meditation and the power of a sport and athleticism to help you reach spiritual realms, which I find really, really fascinating subject.

Speaker 2: (02:25)
And the film that Sanjay has just produced is called 3,100 run and become, and it's based around the fact that human beings are meant to do this long, long distance running that we talk about that we're born to run. And it's particularly seen it on the race in New York city. 3000, 100 miles. This has been going for over 27 years, I believe around half mile block in New York city. And every year about 14 to 16 runners come to test the metal against horrifically long brutal arduous race. And the distances that they cover in that time is over 52 days. Is 3,100 miles set is over with just up, no, sorry, just over 5,000 kilometers. That's like going right across the United States, but in a half mile blocks. So you can imagine how hard this is. It's absolutely brutal. It's not something I would've ever tackled. It's too big. But he talks in chosen this foam, one of the characters, the main characters is the Norwegian runner who has done this over 15 times. And as really the world's best at the super, super, super long distances. So we get into a really deep conversation around philosophy and spirituality. The power of running to train, seeing yourself the healing abilities of running, how it can connect you with mother nature and you know, soul, a lot of our modern day woes. So without further ado, here's Sanjay.

Speaker 3: (04:01)
Well, hi everybody and welcome to pushing the limits. It's fantastic to have you guys back again. We're nearly at the end of 2019 and I can't believe it. And today I have a special special guest with me who is sitting in New York city at the moment. Sanjay Rowe. Wow. Welcome to the show. Sanjay.

Speaker 4: (04:20)
Thank you so much. It's a, it's a winter here, so I'm just trying to keep it together while you guys enjoy mother nature in a different way than I am right now.

Speaker 3: (04:28)
Yes, I've been, yeah. Well you're welcome to come over here anytime. We'd love to have you ever New Zealand. You can come and visit way. That'd be fantastic. So have you ever been to New Zealand?

Speaker 4: (04:38)
I have, I haven't been there in almost 20 years, but I am coming for about 10 to 12 days at the end of February. The screen, the movie that we're going to talk about.

Speaker 3: (04:48)
Oh wow. Okay. I've got to make sure I get to that somehow. So we'll talk about that afterwards. So everybody listening who doesn't know sanjay you will soon. So he has produced a number of films over his career. But recently won a film that we are going to be talking about mostly today is a film called 3,100. Sanjay, can you tell us a little bit about this amazing though?

Speaker 4: (05:15)
Yeah, I'd be happy to. So the movie's 3,100 running become and it follows a pretty diminutive relatively unheard of. Finished man named Ashbery. Hannah Alto is a paper boy by trade. At the same time, he is an underground, multi-day distance running legend. The film follows him trying to complete the 3,100 mile race and the year 2016 this race is the world's longest certified road race. It's almost 5,000 kilometers. It's just a few case short of five K 5,000 but it takes place all around a half mile, close to a kilometer along a loop. In the heart of New York city runners have to try to complete at least a hundred K a day for 52 days in order to finish the race. Under that window. It's grueling, but at the same time, although it sounds like an absolute misery Fest, a suffer Fest, people don't come out of it physically devastated. In fact, the only way you can actually tell the line for this type of mores is to have a deep understanding of the spirituality of long distance running.

Speaker 4: (06:31)
So in the film, not only do we follow Ash Briana, El Alto, but to kind of show how and why this race is even possible, we'd go back into time. We follow three other runners on their own quests, but runners who come from very deep traditional cultures of running a, we follow an ultra marathoner on the Navajo nation. In Arizona, we go to the Kalahari desert and Botswana at hunt with Bushman hunters who chase down game across two to three day law tracks. And we follow an aspirant in the Highlands of Japan who was doing a thousand day Trek of about 31,000 miles in the mountains outside of Kyoto. This shows the spirituality that's inherent to running that really fuels the runners in the 3,100 mile race.

Speaker 3: (07:20)
Wow. Well you preaching to the converted here and a lot of my audience, of course Evan runners. And what really surprises me, I mean I have to, I have to tell you a little bit of a story. I actually tried to get a documentary series done for discovery channel called run the planet and we actually uncovered, so the Kalahari, the Navajo, the, the Mount Tia amongst the, and a number of other tribes, people with stories and legends of doing long distance running. I didn't manage to pull it off. We did the the pilot for the series a in Australia reenacting an Aboriginal men story who ran 250 kilometers to save a friend of hers across the desert. And that was the end of the project unfortunately. But you actually manage the Paul was off which a huge amazing seat too though because I know what these sort of things take.

Speaker 3: (08:17)
But we, we came from the same premise that running is an inherently, we are born to run and stuff. The famous book is from Chris Google. We have born to run and we are made for this sort of long distance stuff and that we've done that throughout history. And you have uncovered these amazing people doing these incredible things. What's interesting for me is you've come from a very spiritual background and I've actually not come from that same background as a runner come more from the sporting and the, you know and I, I think I lived a lot of untapped potential sort of on the table looking back cause I didn't tap into the more spiritual side. I think I did to a certain degree without really understanding it. But you know, let's talk a little bit about Sri chum noise and what the races that he set up all around the world actually have to do with a 3,100 mile race. And, and your, your what, what your beliefs are around, she treats your NOI and has had a trick to long distance running.

Speaker 4: (09:25)
First of all. I so wish you'd completed that series. It sounds like it would have been awesome and I probably wouldn't have had to do this movie.

Speaker 3: (09:33)
It would have been complimentary, would've been awesome. Yeah. We didn't manage to pull it off. As, you know, there are lots of hurdles to jump through when you're totally, yeah.

Speaker 4: (09:44)
So, you know, to your question, I, I ran track in high school and I, I, I grew up in the United States and you know, the state that I grew up in, California has 35 million people. So a lot of people ran track, you know, but kind of got disillusioned from everything at university and ended up after graduation moving from the West coast of the U S to New York city where an Indian spiritual teacher named Sri Chinmoy lived his path really intrigued me because no harm, no foul, like there's no superiority or inferiority. But he really advocated a a pretty unified philosophy of not just making your heart strong and, and trying to develop the kind of beautiful qualities that we have inside, like love and peace and joy. But he also felt that physical fitness was a paramount importance to achieving that sense of inner peace. And so he came at running an exercise from a totally different vantage point than I did for me.

Speaker 4: (10:45)
You know, it was all about competition. And you know, when I was in high school, I would win a lot of races, but by the time I got to college, you know, I was no longer in that kind of top echelon. And you know how it is. It's like once you realize you're never going to be like at the very, very top, you know or, or you're not going to win every single race. I know you want a lot of races, you start really losing, you know, a sense of purpose. But when I came across region wise philosophy, it was totally different. You know, and, and this is reflective in all the cultures that we explore in 3,101 and become that there's something unique about running and we just have to take it on faith that unlike any other activity, however wonderful, whether it's tennis or swimming or biking, that running connects us to mother nature in a completely unique way.

Speaker 4: (11:41)
And when I, when you know, when I spent time with the Navajo and people will see in the film are our main Navajo character. Sean Martin says, when you run your feet are praying to mother earth, you're breathing in father sky. You're showing them, you're praying to them, you're showing them that you're willing to work for the blessings of mother earth. And that's a philosophy that I've seen reflected in traditional cultures all over the world. And that was in Sri Chinmoy. His philosophy, even though we don't actually, nobody really consider as Eastern philosophy as something that really revolves around an act of, of, of physical fitness, like running. Yeah. But in a sense, you know, it was men and women, humanity's first religion, that idea of connecting to nature and the energies both within and without through our feet. So when, when, when he kind of presented that to me and to others, that blew my mind, but I wasn't really ready for the philosophy. You know, I ran 800 meters and the 1500 meters, but when I moved to New York to study with them in 1997 that was the summer that the 3,100 mile race was launched and I hadn't, I hadn't even done a marathon. So the idea of doing 60 miles a day or 52 days just blew my mind.

Speaker 3: (13:03)
Yeah, absolutely. How does the human body, I mean I've, I've done, you know, the longest I've run is like through New Zealand, like 3000, 250 Ks in 42 days, which is not as much money per day is what they were doing. Given we were on the road and doing book tours and things at the same time. But the, the amount of pain in the suffering that you do go through and people have often said to me, did you reach this flow state? And then you became a, and I know that a lot of people experience that. And I, and I have to say I had had times or flow state when I was in a flow state, but unfortunately I couldn't leave a hole myself in that flow state. And the, the suffer face did, you know, it was about, you know, overcoming a lot of pain amazing levels of fatigue with a lot of willpower which we know as limited, you know, we will have a limited amount of willpower.

Speaker 3: (14:09)
And, and I was always hoping to reach that state of self transcendence really. And, and Neveah, but I hadn't been a catered myself to meditation and to the other sides of all that. Probably enough looking back which I'm much more into these days. But back then it was all about, you know, the physical, mental, the mental strength and the physical strength to actually prepare your body for this battle going in. And this is a completely different approach to what Sri, Jim NOI head and what these people that are doing the 3,100 have really it's, and I wonder how do they actually get to that, you know, as someone who's don't done a hell of a lot of running and not really achieved that flow state for long periods of time, at least how the heck do they do it.

Speaker 4: (15:00)
So there, there, there are two types of runners in the race and you know, again, no superiority or inferiority, but there are very few people on earth like you that have the mental fortitude to like will themselves through 40, 45, 50 days, you know, of of doing, you know, 30, 40, 50, 60, 80, a hundred Ks per day. Like, you know, that willpower will only take you so far. And, and in your darkest moments, you know, in the run, willpower is not going to offer you any light. If it's gone, then it's just Sufferfest. So a lot of people who come to the 3,100, whether they, there, they come from a background of faith or not, they realize either in their first attempt or beforehand that if they don't kind of develop access to a place within themselves where they can be happy, simply just happy in the worst moments.

Speaker 4: (15:58)
If they can't be in that flow state at will, then it's going to be a long 52 days. And you know, a lot of people, I would say probably at least a third to a half of people who do it the first time, you know, it's, it's it's a mixture of pleasure and pain and those moments like you experienced in, in your, in your cross-country run, those moments are enough to get you up the next day. But they're not necessarily gonna fuel every single mind mile. That said, it's like the people that come back and do it over and over and over, either through the race or outside the race, they really develop the power of meditation and at the same time, like unlike your race, and I think you'll appreciate this more than most, the reason why they do the race on a half mile loop is so that you have access to your aid every half a mile.

Speaker 4: (16:53)
You have access to a bathroom every half a mile. There's no traffic. There's foot traffic on this loop from just the public, but it's a pretty isolated area of New York and you don't have to worry about cars or anything. So in that sense your mind can like stop forgetting about the surroundings and, and it's, it's a lot easier that way. So that said, it's like this race, like the people that get the most out of it come at it the way you would now that come at it, knowing that you need to have access to that meditative side of you and you need to train with that in mind. It's like you have to find a way to find joy or happiness in those moments of exertion. And that doesn't come spontaneously out in the suffer Fest. You have to build that in your training.

Speaker 3: (17:38)
Yeah. And you have to develop that skill and the years and years of meditation, I should imagine to be able to reach that state. And that's something that fascinates me now. And I'm in, I'm developing, you know, those skills of late, but it's something that I wish on head back then instead of just the will and mindset. And I'm doing this no matter what. And, and it surprises me that how many people can override all of the the pain and the, you know, we do have an amazing ability to deal with things. But I cannot, I cannot, in all honesty, say to you, I enjoy it or I was happy in doing a lot of those races. There was a lot of, you know, I want to achieve this. It's a challenge. It's an opportunity to find out who I am. And I think when we, when we connect to nature and we do find out so much about ourselves and so even though I didn't approach it from a spiritual point of view, I think the stuff that I learned from it has been so, so powerful to helping me in, in everyday life.

Speaker 3: (18:51)
In, in getting through obstacles, other people that are doing these types of things, in your opinion just more, are they tapping into a higher power? Are they able to actually leave the the, the suffering behind in some way?

Speaker 4: (19:12)
That's a great question. So like going to the time that we spent with the Bushman and the Kalahari, these cultures that have been running for literally 125,000 years, they say you cannot separate running from God. Of course, if you want to run to become a better looking person running, we'll give that to you. If you want to run to become healthy running, we'll do that for you. But if you run with the intention, I mean this is wild, but if you run with the intention of getting closer to the divine part of yourself, to the divine part of the universe, whatever you, you label that as running, we'll get you there. I mean, just like if you meditate for just power of concentration, it'll do it. If you meditate to feel a little bit of peace, it'll do it. But if you meditate for a self discovery to discover the oneness you have with the divine, that's everywhere.

Speaker 4: (20:07)
Meditation will do that. And so when it, when it comes to running this particular race, people come into it as a pilgrimage. You know, you can either come into it what the mental attitude of like, I'm going to do this, I'm going to achieve this. But there was a runner on an Israeli multi-day champion and Coby Orrin who did the race, I think in 2017 and across the first thousand miles he was pushing. And he actually sat in Israeli national record for the fastest time to a thousand miles in the midst of this 3,100 mile race. But he realized that the true meaning of this race wouldn't reveal itself unless he moved into a completely different state of mind. And he realized that he had to take the race as a pilgrimage. And what that meant was not thinking about your splits, not thinking about how many miles you're doing each day, but really finding a way to focus on the meaning of each action of each step.

Speaker 4: (21:06)
And when he got into that sense of, or lack of expectation, and when he got into that sense of focus, he realized that there was, there was joy, there was actually happiness by looking at the moments, by looking at the specific actions and the steps and that happiness wasn't going to come. Looking at your watch or looking at your daily mile totals, that happiness kind of existed in the middle of all that. But again, it's like, it all sounds like fun and games, but unless we had that kind of intention, we don't actually find where happiness really exists.

Speaker 3: (21:40)
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I think, you know, overcoming changing perspective. I mean, I never went into races with the, the thought of winning, to be honest, most of the time it was all about, you know, survival getting through to the other in some which way. And I've had some very spiritual type experiences underway. Perhaps induced by, you know, fatigue, sleep deprivation, those types of things, hallucinations. And the things that you actually discover about yourself are just absolutely mind blowing, even without the spiritual aspect. But I do wish now that I had gone more into that side of things to be able to overcome the limitations. You know, what worries me nowadays as a, as a running coach and we train $700 sleets all around the world is, is the danger that is involved with ultra marathon running. Because there is, you know, you can do permanent damage.

Speaker 3: (22:44)
I've done some damage to my body. Why do these guys not have physical damage from doing these extreme races or do they? I've had, you know, big problems with things like rhabdomyolysis kidneys, you know, not functioning properly from repeatedly breaking down too much muscle. Things like that, fibroid problems, adrenal problems, adrenal burnout. Do these guys ever suffer from those sort of normal physical breakdowns? Of course, muscle tears and in those sorts of things as well. And if not, why not? Why do they not have that limitation, those very human limitations on them

Speaker 4: (23:26)
That, that, that, that's a great question. You know, as, as opposed to most ultra distance running, I mean this is more akin to your, your, your 42 days across New Zealand where you can't push it. You know, you can't win the 3,100 mile race in a day, but you can lose it in a day and it's not wanting a 24 hour race where you can say like, I can push myself past the limit because I can sleep for two weeks and I can take care of like the damage I do across the next six months or a year with the 3,100. Imagine doing a hundred K then waking up again and doing it again and then waking up again and doing it again. And the, the, the leaders are, are, are at about 120 K per day. So it's a totally different mindset. I mean, you know, they can't, they Canyon say that when you run long distances, whether they're 10 Ks or marathons, you have to run dumb.

Speaker 4: (24:20)
The UMB like in the 3,100 you have to have like a real sense of softness between your ears. You know, even physiologically, it's like if your, if your mind is thinking and thinking and thinking, your face muscles get tense, which tenses up, you know, your upper cervical vertebra, which have ramifications all the way down your body and you start getting repeated. Use injuries. Your, your knees aren't aligned, your tabs aren't aligned. But frankly it all starts in the mind. And so if you can find a way not to be in your mind, to cultivate, you know, your heart, your spiritual heart, that things that you focused on in meditation and bring those feelings and emotions and sense of self, sense of peace, sense of joy into your one, then it becomes an entirely different experience physiologically. You know, you're much more in tune with what's going on.

Speaker 4: (25:14)
You're much more in tune with the sense of balance. You have more patients. But in that patience, when you're not pushing, you can also experience a sense of happiness that you, you, you typically don't get in shorter races. And when I mean shorter like, you know, 24 hours and less, where are you going? Like, I've got to get there. I've got to get there. I can't stop. I can't stop. You know, when you've got that type of an attitude in a race, you, you rarely dissociate from your mind. I mean, the trick for those of us wanting shorter races is finding ways in training like the Kenyans to completely get rid of expectation and to find a way to get into that flow state in the first couple of miles.

Speaker 3: (25:53)
Yup. Yeah. And it does association. I mean, I definitely use it to some degree, obviously not to the degree that I would like to have used it and being able to take your mind away from the pain and the suffering in the body. And that's one of the tools that I, you know, teach about a little bit. And I do find like when you get into a rhythm, a rhythm is something that that is meditative. And I'm often, if I'm running behind, someone will use their feet as a little flicker of they fry, they fried and they, it's almost a trance like state that you can get into. But I can't keep it in the forever. That's a, that's the key point I think. And that's the difference between these guys. So they are tapping into things that we as, you know, average not so spiritual human beings, if you like, for the ones who have a bit of expression and you know, can't tap into.

Speaker 3: (26:52)
And that's what I find absolutely fascinating because I know what it takes to run 70 Ks a day. I cannot imagine the amount of pain that it would take to run 120 days beyond. It's certainly beyond my physical limitations. And the, the amount of pain that you'd have to overcome us is, is phenomenal. But what you were saying there about stress and stress is I listened to an interview with dr Chatterjee that you were talking about stress and how, why can't AIDS epidemic in our world. And it's one of the killers and it's one of the most problematic things. And we are living in a cult stunt state of alertness and fight or flight sort of state because of the society that we live. And we're no longer being chased by lions, but we seem to be living in that constant state is meditation and using even this, running this self transcendent, running a way of calming the body and stopping those stress responses.

Speaker 4: (27:59)
So the curious thing is that running is humanity's oldest physical practice, maybe dance as well. That movement through your feet and there is something electric when you're aware of it, between the connection between mother earth and our feet, our lungs breathing in oxygen and air, there's something deeply nourishing and effecting that way. At the same time, meditation is humanity's oldest practice of contemplation. Not just getting rid of stress, but understanding who we are, why we're here, what we're meant to do in any given moment. And meditation gives us access to different parts of our body and our, or of our being, I should say. It's like we've got a tool belt on and we've got 15 sets of tools, but we're using a hammer 24 hours a day. You know, it's like we might not even know all the other tools that we've got, but meditation is a very simple, very natural way for people to go, wow, when I'm stressed, I don't have to like think about it.

Speaker 4: (29:05)
I don't have to like, you know, just become obsessed with what's going on. There's another part of me that will allow me to feel something different, to allow time, for example, to take its course at the same time. If, if this dress requires something hyper-focused, you know, we can pull that tool out and apply it to the moment and get rid of that stress in a very constructive, you know, analytical way. Some meditation and running, you know, are really the two oldest tools that we have. But it's a question of, of coming back to that as, as a civilization, as a species. And you know, obviously as individuals we can come back to that just, you know, we just have to, we just have to take those first steps.

Speaker 3: (29:45)
Well, I actually had to an argument or not an argument, but a discussion with reduce your, of the, the portal, which is a new movie that's come out. Tom Cronin, who was on the podcast a few weeks ago and he was, he's, it's all about meditation and the power of meditation to heal the whole world. And I'm a very, very interesting man. And I said to him, I believe meditation running is a meditation. And he said to me, no, it's not a meditation. It's running. And I said, I know, and I had this discussion with an amazing no, because running you are in a sympathetic nervous system state and you're not in a parasympathetic state.

Speaker 4: (30:23)
It's that if for four, I would say for most people not myself included. That was true up until a few years ago. But I F I was trying to understand why the people who do the 3,100 mile race, most of them come back and do it a second time, a third time. The main character in the movie, Ashby Hunnel, you know, did it again last summer for get this a grand total of 15 times he's completed that race 15 times when when you understand that running and meditation can actually go together, you know, and you've explore what that truly means. I mean, again, it's, it's not simply the fact and I, I get where he's coming from. It's not simply saying like, my running is my meditation. The way that chopping onions is my meditation. It's like, you know, I, I get the kind of like, you know, hyperbole that that comes with that. But if you get into a state in running where you're completely beyond your mind, where you're completely in that flow state and, and you know, it's like the definition or the flow state is not an absence of pain, but it's finding happiness in the, in that exertion. And there there was a Hopi elder. Hopi is there. There are tribes in central Arizona, some of the best runners anywhere

Speaker 3: (31:46)
We uncover the swipe for that with a series. Yeah.

Speaker 4: (31:50)
Yes. W a Hopi elder had told us when I was on a prayer run with a bunch of native kids in Arizona, he told us as, as we headed off for monument Valley, he said, find joy through exertion. And that was mind blowing to me because how many of us, when, when we're really working hard, number one, feel joy, number one or number two, even know that we can feel joy in those moments of intense effort. And he said, not only do you need to realize that joy exists in the most extreme forms of exertion, but you can find it. You just have to be aware of it and find a way to, to tap into it. I mean, that totally changed the way I race that only that changed the way I run. It's like in those moments when you're really pushing to learn that joy actually exists there.

Speaker 4: (32:43)
That you can go beyond that pain by tapping into joy. I mean that that's how to get into flow. That's literally step one and to getting into flow. And when you're in that flow state as, as you know, it's like you can have experiences or you can tap into those same places within your being that you try to get to in your highest form of meditation. That said, learning and knowing how to meditate is going to help you get into that state a lot easier. And if you get into that state and running, you're going to be able to get into that state when you're meditating. So I completely disagree based on experiences that I've had personally, but more importantly, seeing these cultures that have understood the connection between prayer running and the spirit for tens of thousands of years.

Speaker 3: (33:33)
Oh, I'm so glad you've said that because I've, you know, had a debate with myself over the last few weeks because I took him on what he said, and I thought, well, that's probably got an element of truth about, you know, we're looking at the parasympathetic and the sympathetic nervous system, and you, when you are in the meditative state, you have to be in the sympathetic state. But I have that, I've had that experience of being in a meditative state, running granted I can't do it on demand, but I have been there. So I, I was having trouble with that sort of like autonomy, if you like. They, they're sort of opposites. And that gives me permission to go back to the thought. And yes, actually there's a type of meditation and it is a powerful one and it's something that I've missed like the last four years.

Speaker 3: (34:19)
Sandra, you you wanna know, but I had a mom who had a mess of aneurysm and my listeners know the story and was in a vegetative state, basically would have any high function at the age of 74. And obviously the last four years I just stopped doing the long distance running because I had to completely focus on her rehab and that, you know, they're trying to make a living was all there was 24 hours in a day basically. And now four years later, I've just written her book. It comes out in March this year. It's called relentless and tells the story of, of bringing her back and she's now completely normal again. At the age of 78 against all odds. And I created, I created this comeback journey that I've been on with her, on to the fact that I've done this running.

Speaker 3: (35:06)
If I had not have had the mental skillset that I developed through running, I wouldn't have been able to, to do the things that I did with here to look outside the square to, to push through boundaries that most people would have, you know, quit long, long time ago. And to go up against some medical system and say, no, this is the, she will come back. And this the story is very powerful because it's in why I'm so passionate about getting this book out there is because it taps into these types of tools that we discover when we are doing these extreme things like you know, running long distance races and we learned stuff about ourselves and then how the body works and how that we are capable of so much more than what your average local doctor will tell you. What capable of, I mean, have you ever been to a local doctor and they've said, look, you can't run anymore. You've got a sore knee. Yeah,

Speaker 4: (35:59)
Yeah. I mean, I mean th th th the thing to understand is that we physiologically evolved as runners. You know, from, from an evolutionary biology standpoint and all your, all your listeners will know that the humanities first advantage as bipedal beings was number one, unlike Quadra peds, we could step without having to breathe. Many people can imagine what a dog looks like or a horse looks like in full sprint when their legs are extended, you know, splayed out on the, on the an extension. Their lungs, inhale air. When the legs come together as they all do, they all come together in the middle of the, of the center of gravity. It's like that's when the lungs are forced to expel air. So they're incredible anaerobic beings, but we're the only animals by virtue of standing on two feet that can like trot and not have to breathe every single time we take a step.

Speaker 4: (36:56)
And so that's given us a tremendous sense of endurance. You know, we can breathe, you know, multiple times per step, which Quadro peds can't do. And you know, we can, we can breathe every three or four steps, which also keeps our Arabic level kind of pretty low. So it's like, if you, if you look at that, you know, human beings are meant to move on our feet. The things that take us away from that state of being are all the, all the afflictions of modern day life. But I would say weirdly enough, like I, I'm on the medical team at the 3,100 mile race too, and 95% of the day to day trauma that the runners face. The pain, you know, we can take away through a deep tissue, we can take away through Raul thing, but it tends to come back day in and day out. And when that starts happening to runners, I tell them like, look, your problems are mental.

Speaker 4: (37:50)
Like there's no reason why if these problems are taken away through through some sort of therapy that they, that they should come back the next day. I find that 90% of injuries that people have through, you know, basically through a non-traumatic running racing is totally different. But when you're just in training and you're just doing like low stress low intensity type of stuff, you know, maybe heavy miles, the injuries that are repeated use injuries are really due to bad form, which really comes from a state of mental unrest from a state of anxiety and not allowing the mind to release. And then the body subsequently to release.

Speaker 3: (38:31)
There's not so much rinks in the core strength and you know, like we teach about, you know, you've got to have a strong core and strong had some things to be able to be upright. You were saying it's more of a mental stimulus. That's, that's the problem that we are because of the stress that we're all under or that we are thinking we are under we're actually inflicting that on our bodies as, as much as anything else.

Speaker 4: (38:56)
I mean of course is since most of us don't spend day to day, you know, I spend, spend our day to day kind of inner body the way we might've as hunters and gatherers. Yeah. Yeah. We need to do all the range of motion, all the core activities that we don't get from our, our, our standard nine to five jobs. Yeah. But still like you have plenty of students that do all of that and that still gets Phantom injuries. Yep. And then I'll take it

Speaker 3: (39:22)
Good. You know, I can do everything and I'll still be struggling with one or two injuries

Speaker 4: (39:27)
And that come that that comes entirely from the mind. Like the 3,100 mile race is a great Petri dish for it. Because like I said, like, you know, like LA last summer, Ashby hunt all did it and I was, his handler. It, I would kind of take care of his afflictions, you know, every break he had every six or eight hours. And after a few days of of him having calf pain and taking it away through simple, you know, deep tissue or, or Rolfing or, or, or you know, active release stuff. And I just told them like, I can take care of this every single day. But the reason why you're having these problems is somehow you're, you're not running fluidly, you know? And that comes in that race from overthinking, from stressing out, for thinking about stuff that you shouldn't be thinking about. Mainly from, from thinking at all.

Speaker 4: (40:18)
Yeah. And so I go, I go back to the time I go back to the time we spent with Sean Martin on the Navajo reservation. We're all you're supposed to do when you run is listen to the sound of your feet. Breathe in the universe through your lungs. And when you do that, you begin to feel the importance of the connection of your feet and mother earth and your breath and father sky. And that nourishes you. And that gives you the sense of happiness that you need from running. But most of us, myself included when I go for a run and looking at my watch, I'm looking at my pace, I'm thinking about my workout. I might think about like, you know what I'm going to eat afterwards, what I'm going to do afterwards. My, my, my, my experience of running is already done, you know, and I'm getting nothing out of each moment. I'm only just checking off a workout. And that's the difference. It's like unplugging from our playlist, you know, you can run with a GPS watch. We all do. But not worrying about what your watch says to you, but listening to yourself, listening to your thoughts, listening to your heart, and taking, running as a spiritual discipline rather than as an escape. I mean, that's when the fruits of running really, really coming to the fore.

Speaker 3: (41:34)
Yeah. And I'm just going back briefly to that story with mum. The difficulty if I haven't been able to do the long distance running in the, in the last, you know, three and a half, four years and I've missed the clarity of mind that came with it. You know, when you, when you spend hours a day running is indulgence as that sounds. It actually, you know, I had time to work through the problems that I was facing in my life and to get them out, it's very cathartic, sort of a, a thing to do. And when you don't have that, you can be missing that piece quite badly. And then, you know, so they, I think running is a physical release and a spiritual release in a, in a mental release. It's a, it's all rolled into one and the connection that you say to, to mother earth.

Speaker 3: (42:28)
And I think this is one of the major, major problems that especially our young generation are facing because we so on devices and we so connected all of the time that we have no time to just be in our own thoughts or just being with ourselves and to just be in movement. We just constantly wanting entertainment or connection. And, and not being connected to mother Ruth not being outside in the burning sun, the freezing rain, the, all of those things that really make us feel good. You know, when you go for a run in a storm, you can't come back, you know, if anything but invigorated and like alive, you know. And it might've been hard and it might've been cold and it might've been this, but you're alive. You're, you're feeling you're alive. And I think that they, in their very artificial world where everything's air conditioned and we jumped from Avalon to a garage, into the car and off to the mall and you know, all of these things is just disconnecting us so completely from, from the way that we are meant to be living generally, like outside of just running, but just not being connected to nature is, is killing us, I think.

Speaker 3: (43:44)
Do you agree?

Speaker 4: (43:46)
I'm, I'm totally with you now. You know, imagine that 3,100 mile race on a city block. It's sidewalk. Almost a K it's, but it's a square. So it's like you're going around right angles. It takes place in New York city summer, you know, for for almost eight weeks where the temperature last summer climbed above 41 42 seas. For a day or two. But much of the time in, in the heat of the day, you know, you're talking between 32 and 36 Celsius. Again, it's like unrelenting. You're pretty close to some major roads. There's buildings all around and it's not like you're running through the grand Canyon, but that, but that said, it's like if you're, you know, on the South Island or if you're in the grand Canyon, it's really easy to feel the power of mother nature. But our, our Navajo character's father is a, is a as a medicine man.

Speaker 4: (44:39)
And he told me mother earth is under the sidewalk to no mother earth is under the asphalt. That is mother earth. So on this course, you know, people are, are desperately, desperately struggling to maintain their connection to nature despite being in an urban setting. And you know, when you've got that type of intense focus on what you need when it comes to you, it's, it's in a much higher dosage than you can imagine. So like, yeah, in the 3,100, that connection to mother earth, even though they're running around in circles on a sidewalk, it's absolutely essential.

Speaker 3: (45:16)
Absolutely. And that you don't need, you know, people often say, well we don't lock them did on these rices and the Sahara and the Gobi desert and Dave belly and Australia and all like Himalayas. To be honest, actually it wasn't about,

Speaker 4: (45:33)
Yeah,

Speaker 3: (45:33)
The views, it wasn't about what you were seeing, keeping you going. In fact, most of the time, unfortunately, you know, your heat is usually down on the ground trying not to fall over the next thing or you're so, so tired. You can have the enjoy your surroundings very often. And, and of course it is more inspiring to at least go to these places and you know, in the before and the after and the cultural exchange that you have. But actually during the race, it's not about the beauty, you know, it's and running around and ran a block or running through a desert. They're both connected the both outside and nature. Like you say, they both are.

Speaker 4: (46:15)
And w one of the great things about this race happening in New York is that whatever you need, whether it's a new pair of shoes, whether it's a very specific type of medicine you're in New York city, someone will be able to get a volunteer. We'll be able to get it for you within a couple of hours. And as you know, it's like when you travel for these like international ultras, very often if you don't have something with you is stuffed, you are not going to get it. Yeah. It's not going to be a good experience for you.

Speaker 3: (46:44)
No, it must be. Yeah, it definitely has a be a great advantage to have all of the things around you and that half-mile block, although it's, you know, mind numbing and people think, Oh gosh, going around in a circle. I mean I've only done like 24 hour races, but they are easier than running across the desert per se, where you don't have access to anything. And if you've forgotten something, you're in deep, deep trouble, physically in trouble. But it does become about the mind and what you are, what you were doing. The so this, this movie is coming to New Zealand. This phone was [inaudible].

Speaker 4: (47:23)
Yeah. Yeah. So from February 10th through, we'll be traveling from, I think we're going to be an Oakland, Wellington, Christchurch maybe a few other places in between doing single nights screenings. The information is going to be up on our Facebook page, which I think is facebook.com forward slash 3,100 film and afterwards, after the 20th, that you can't make, one of those screenings will be up on all the online platforms. But Lisa, I would love to have to be able to, to, to ask you questions at one of our screenings. You know, I'm not sure what city you're in, but

Speaker 3: (48:02)
It would be fun. It would be really, really fun. I think we can make that happen. I live in a little place called new Plymouth, so you probably not coming here, although that would be awesome. But I can travel to, you know, walking into Wellington or something to make sure that I get to see this and I've seen the movie. But to actually meet you would be of course just, you know. Awesome. and you know, people out there, how do they get tickets so they can just go onto Facebook and find out where the screenings are. Get me tickets via that way.

Speaker 4: (48:30)
Yeah. The, the, the, the movie screenings are going to be in proper theaters and all of those cities. And so, you know, on our Facebook page there's links to the times and dates and we're going to be adding a few more things here and there. But yeah, all the tickets can be purchased online.

Speaker 3: (48:45)
Fabulous. And we will put all the links in the, in the show notes and stuff and all that. I do want to ask you a couple more questions about you and your background because you've had a fascinating life. This isn't the first movie you've done. Tell us about how did you get into filmmaking? Cause I'm very fascinated by filmmaking. I made a couple of, well eight documentaries, but on a very, very low budget documentaries. And I know I want to know, you know, how did you fall into this area and do the amazing things that you've done. So tell us a little bit about your life.

Speaker 4: (49:19)
I, I'm, I'm a Jack of all trades, master of none. Know I, I moved from California to New York to basically, you know, S to just study what's rich and white and spend a few years even with a good university degree, you know, just spend a few years working in health food stores and just, you know, getting to understand who I was and what I really wanted to do in life before launching into a career or whatnot. But switch in my head a lot of friends from other Theresa to Desmond Tutu and Mikhail Gorbachev and Mandela. And as I got more interested in kind of humanity specifically in, in like international development, humanitarian aid, human rights, I began having opportunities to work with some most rich and moist friends. So I got a chance to, to work with Desmond Tutu and you know, a ton of other people and gradually kind of like made my way into the world of humanitarian aid and human rights.

Speaker 4: (50:18)
So I kind of worked in that, in that sphere for about 15 years till around 2010, 2011. And you know, realize that a lot of the projects that I really, really enjoyed were ones that required me to take photos or to make little small documentaries, just being the only person with a camera for hundreds of miles. And I began making some short films, like my first one that most of them have been on sports, weirdly enough. My, my first one was called ocean monk and it was like an, a personal exploration of the connection between meditation and surfing in the winter in New York city. Of all things. I mean there is surfing like you

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