The best thing for a quick pace is a quiet mind. Running demands intense mental focus and determination, particularly when navigating challenging terrain and covering great distances. Just ask Timothy Olson. He is the ultra runner who set the speed record on the Pacific Crest Trail, running the 2,650-mile wilderness path that stretches between the Mexican and Canadian borders in just 51 days—a feat that takes most hikers roughly five months to complete. To keep such a grueling pace, Timothy required a super-human level of focus, which he was able to achieve through mindful meditation. “When we can quiet our minds and listen with our hearts,” Timothy says, “we find valuable insights into living a joy-filled life that is truly and presently lived.”
Today, he helps others experience the performance-enhancing benefits of mindfulness through Run Mindful. Led by Timothy and his wife Krista, Run Mindful retreats combine meditation with physical training to provide a holistic approach to running.
Running, a Thinking Man’s Sport
Studies in 2020 and 2021 found that athletes who practiced mindfulness before and during a run had faster times and less fatigue following a race. When your legs are screaming for you to stop, it’s really your brain that’s blocking you from achieving next-level stamina. Your legs will keep going if your brain tells them to, which is why training your brain for a long-distance run is just as essential as training your legs.
Timothy and Krista are leading a Run Mindful Trail Running & Meditation Retreat in Boulder this June. The four-day program provides an opportunity for aspiring long-distance runners to learn from the pros how to use mindfulness practices to improve stamina. Participants will gain practical tips, such as Krista’s method of pre-run meditation and tuning into her body while running instead of listening to music, as well as Timothy’s approach of concentrating on his breathing, initially slowing it down to relax his central nervous system and then quickening it to experience a burst of energy.
The retreat includes communal breakfasts and morning meditations, daily guided trail runs ranging from 3 to 20 miles, picnic lunches, mindfulness workshops, free time for optional activities, dinners, and early bedtimes. Open to everyone, from novice hikers to professional runners, the retreat welcomes all levels of meditation experience.