How Rich Roll uses meditation to run and run and run


It’s easy to be calm and mindful when you’re in a cave. But how do you do it in the world and how do you do it under extreme duress? That’s what reveals character. As a kid I was really sort of naturally insecure until I discovered drugs and alcohol and that was like the miracle salve that solved every problem that up to that point I didn’t know that I had. I was a pretty broken guy. It was a pretty dire dark scenario. I woke up one day hung over and decided I’m finally ready to do something about this. And went off to rehab. And I was able to actually grab onto that rope and start doing that interior work. That was my first introduction to meditation. I had this moment walking up these steps late one night where I had to pause and I had tightness in my chest and sweat on my brow and really fear in my heart that I was on the precipice of a very serious heart issue and it scared me. And that began the process of me once again reconfiguring my life. I became amazed at how resilient the human body is because for so many years I had beaten myself up with drugs and alcohol and fast food and workaholism and you name it. And I realized that if my body could bounce back this quickly from all the terrible treatment that I’ve given it for most of my life like what is it really capable of? That’s what introduced me to Ultra Man. For people that don’t know it’s a double Iron Man distance triathlon. Three hundred twenty miles that over a three day period circumnavigates the entire Big Island of Hawaii. It’s insane. It’s very easy to get freaked out and think oh my gosh I can’t do this. Who am I kidding or this is too painful I want to just stop. So in a race like Ultra Man it’s crucial to be able to anchor yourself in the present moment. You have to be able to let go of what just happened and what is in your near future and focus on what is happening right now. And the more you can do that then all of that fear kind of evaporates. Your thinking mind is that pesky guy on your shoulder he’s trying to talk you out of everything. And so the trick becomes learning how to tap into a higher state of awareness so that you can be mindful and you can be present. And that’s the place you want to be in as an athlete because that’s when you’re completely centered and focused. And I will say in all honesty that Headspace has been really great for helping me have a consistent approach to my practice because it is right on my phone and I put it down in the dock at the bottom. It’s a constant reminder and it’s so easily accessible. To be able to do it wherever you find yourself for somebody who’s beginning to meditate five minutes might seem like an eternity. And that’s what I experienced during this training like I can get to a place where a seven hour ride didn’t feel like that long. And that’s really a mental practice. Yes there is physical discomfort and the training is athletic and physical. But truly a race like Ultra Man all comes down to your mental emotional and spiritual state and that is really the defining characteristic that would define any any champion in that regard.


15 Responses

  1. Jim Gardiner

    June 7, 2016 11:04 pm

    Great video. A perfect combination of two figures (Rich/ Andy) who have been paramount in my spiritual awakening. Headspace for rowing has really helped to deflate the stress and anxiety over painful training sessions and or competition. Couldn't imagine doing it without the easy to understand approach which Headspace brings. Thanks!

  2. Rich Roll

    June 8, 2016 1:18 am

    I had so much fun making this little movie with my friends at Headspace – I hope you enjoy it!

  3. Kapuist1

    September 11, 2016 1:02 pm

    Great video, I truly like the sports aspect of it. I know that in bodybuilding there is a lot of talk about the mind-muscle connection and visualization. Perhaps you could do a video on that?

  4. K2

    February 3, 2017 12:51 am

    Hello Rich, My husband and I are trail runners who have read your book and watched your videos. Thank you for those. Can you recommend a specific podcast, recording for guided *running meditation to help get me in the zone? I'd like to load it onto my iPod for running. (Ive read Rinpoche Mipham's book but have not seen any guided med recordings from him.) Thanks!

  5. João Barros

    April 19, 2017 12:13 pm

    Great and inspiring story. Guys what's the music that starts at 0.14 sec?Thanks and keep up the good work.

  6. Will’s galactic connection videos

    May 2, 2017 3:26 pm

    yeah very very similar story but only run up to 10 miles, and headspace taught me to meditate, changed my life, now I can sit for hours and meditate without. I still have the app and everyday 10 :45 time to get some headspace lol

  7. T4C

    September 15, 2017 7:01 pm

    If i'm running a long run i'd tend to cut it down into smaller distances say 5 miles and every 5 miles i'll treat myself to something…something to eat and drink…maybe walk a min or 2…that way say 50 miles is easier for the brain to accept because all i'm thinking is only another couple of miles and i can have some fuel…stop take a photo or 2…go for a paddle in that beach up ahead…meditation would be hard a lot of the time, because running roads i need to be fairly alert too. But no 2 runners are really alike or using the same methods to do what they do. Whatever works

  8. TheWildbill242

    November 9, 2017 7:52 pm

    Very good. I'm 70 years old and been running for about 48 1/2 years. Needles to say I enjoy running. I'm really interested in meditation while running. Thank you for your insight.

  9. Kayla Carter

    July 29, 2019 11:56 am

    Thanks. I also really love meditation. 💚💙
    I've been enjoying a lot of Spiritual Master Sri Avinash lately for meditation. #SriAvinashMeditation


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