Tuesday, June 10, 2014


In a "Farewell to Arms," Ernest Hemingway wrote:  "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places."

We encounter many occasions of 'brokenness' during our lives:  promises, resolutions, friendships, dreams, bodies, hearts.  What we do when faced with these tests of spirit, will and endurance separates those who surrender and quit from those who embrace the point of brokenness, look it square in the face and move on to endure.

The latter qualities are typical of an endurance athlete.

Dr. Scott Logue, team doctor for the Chicago Wolves who has completed two Ironman laces and nearly 30 marathons, knows a thing or two about endurance. Dr. believes that in order to endure, we must look within to find the will to persevere through the pain and difficulty, in physical matters as well as emotional and spiritual situations.

"You have to know and tell yourself that at some point, whether in training or in life, the dark moments are inevitable and that there will be difficulty," he says.  "But, if you can persevere through them, you will feel good again.  You will, in fact, feel better having gone through it."

But how do you look within?  What exactly does that mean?  The Japanese Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei, who perform an incredible 1,000 days of long distance runs as part of their training in Tendai Buddhism, can she some light on endurance.

Here is their training schedule:

By the year:

  1. 100 consecutive days of marathons, beginning at 1:30 a.m. each day after an hour of prayer
  2. 100 consecutive days of marathons
  3. 100 consecutive days of marathons, performed twice
  4. 100 consecutive days of marathons, performed twice
  5. On the 700th day, the monks undergo a nine-day fast without food, water, rest of sleep before having a short rest of a few weeks and increasing their grueling schedule
  6. 100 consecutive days of 37.5 mile ultramarathons
  7. 100 consecutive days of 52.5 mile ultramarathons, and 100 days of marathons

They train in this extraordinary, otherworldly manner in order to push the limits of human endurance in search of a higher plane of spirituality.  The monks are not training to run per se.  They embark on their grueling sever-year ultra-endurance training to teach the mind to ignore physical, emotional or spiritual distractions.  Most sports psychologists agree with this traditional Eastern philosophy that espouse that the mind rules the body.  The mind almost always quits before the body in training.

While the Japanese monks and other people look within to find the will to carry on, others look to friends, training support groups, family or their faith.  Regardless of the source one accesses to find the strength to continue despite insurmountable odds, adverse conditions or matters that test your strength, will and faith:  access it!  Dig deep into that well and move through whatever test of endurance you face.  And you will, as Hemingway said, become stronger in the broken places.

Maryilene Blondell

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