Episode 172- Itemize Your Life

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Episode 172- Itemize Your Life

Having spent the past two weekends camping, in Pinnacles National Park and at the Sea Otter Classic in Monterrey, I have had quite a full plate during the weekdays. I wanted to have a present mindset to best enjoy the beauty and adventure of Pinnacles and the chaos and wildness of Sea Otter but in order to do that, I had to make sure that I took care of all of my responsibilities before Friday each week. If you’ve never heard of Pinnacles National Park, it’s a magnificent place filled with incredible trailrunning amongst massive rock formations and views of soaring condors. If you’ve never heard of the Sea Otter Classic, it is regarded as the largest cycling festival in the world and I attended with friends of mine from here at Cal Poly. For their individual draws, I wanted to be present when I was camping in Pinnacles and hanging out at Sea Otter, which led my weeks to be filled with many things to get done. There were a few moments where I was on the verge of becoming overwhelmed and stressed but by applying mindfulness lessons and the all-important tool of to-do lists I was able to stay focused and accomplish what I needed to get done.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 171- Robert Thurman: A Buddhist Perspective

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Episode 171- Robert Thurman: A Buddhist Perspective

“Learn about how to look at the quality of the instrument itself with which [you] learn things.”

-Robert Thurman

Robert Thurman is a renowned Buddhist scholar and the father of actress Uma Thurman. He is the founder of Tibet House US, which is a non-profit dedicated to helping preserve Tibetan culture in exile and to be active against China’s control of Tibet, and founder of Menla Mountain Retreat, which is a healing arts center grounded mainly in the Tibetan healing tradition. Thurman’s extensive knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism, coupled with his deep study of various other philosophies and traditions, allows him to speak eloquently and intelligently on a wide variety of topics. He is able to take the state of our world and frame it in a Buddhist perspective. That way the listener can better understand how damaged our world currently is and how we can improve it through the lessons that can be learned from Buddhism. He uses logic and reason to expose the flaws in many different aspects of our society, from politics, consumerism, and capitalism to science, philosophy, and understanding knowledge, so that we can better go about healing our society. Today’s conversation is a wonderfully wide-ranging discussion that uses Buddhism as the lens to view what is wrong and what is right with the world that we live in today.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

Find Robert:
bobthurman.com/
tibethouse.us/
menla.us/
Instagram: @Bob_Thurman instagram.com/bob__thurman/
Twitter: @BobThurman twitter.com/bobthurman
Facebook: Robert Thurman facebook.com/Robert.A.F.Thurman

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Photo by: Chris Michel

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Episode 170- Nine Trails 35

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Episode 170- Nine Trails 35

Throughout my time here in college, at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, I have often felt like I have lost running. Now I don’t mean that I stopped running, I have run a substantial amount while here in SLO. What I mean is that I have been plagued by the recurring feeling that I have lost the running ability that I had during times of my life like the lead up to the Bryce Canyon 100 in June of 2017. That feeling of setting out for a run, knowing that you will enter that pain cave but remaining confident in your fitness to bring you through the discomfort and emerge on the other side better for it. I spent so long tying those two concepts, discomfort and enlightenment, so closely together through running that when I lost that fitness, due to the various challenges I have faced here in college that led running to take a backseat in my life, I felt like I lost running. However, since the New Year I have been training with focus and drive for one goal: the Santa Barbara Nine Trails 35 Mile Endurance Run, which took place a week and a half ago. The race, with the 11,700’ of elevation gain that a runner covers across the 35 miles, is known for its difficulty and I was determined to use the race as a platform to reset my outlook, perspective, and mindset on running and on what I was capable of. Stepping across that finish line was a deeply emotional experience for me because it told me that I could still run far, that I still loved it, that I wanted to do more with it, and that I could still learn from it. Join me today as we explore Nine Trails, my experience with that race, and what it taught me.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 169- Andy Van Bergen: The Man Behind Everesting

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Episode 169- Andy Van Bergen: The Man Behind Everesting

“I’m in pain and I’m suffering here and it’s a wonderful thing.”

-Andy Van Bergen

In all the time that I have spent adventuring in the outdoors, I have always had a fascination with going up. Running, riding, or clawing my way up the most elevation gain that I can find is always my focus. In many senses I don’t particularly even like the flat or downhill sections, to me it’s all about the uphill and the discomfort that it brings. Thankfully there are many other people in the world who share my fascination and cyclist Andy Van Bergen is one of them. Andy is the head of the Hells 500, a cycling group focused on and almost obsessed with epic hill climbing adventures, one of which is Everesting. Andy himself is the creator of Everesting, the concept where over one continuous run or ride activity the athlete does enough hill repeats, on one hill of their choosing, to match their elevation gain to the altitude of Mt. Everest: 29,029’ (8,848 m). This idea has taken the world by storm in the five years since its inception because of its brutal simplicity. Anybody, anywhere on the planet can attempt this challenge, all you need is a mindset that will propel your body up and down a hill enough times to climb Everest. This idea and the straightforward difficulty of it captured my imagination as well and in today’s episode, we explore what it means to go upwards powered only by your own body and mind. We delve into who Andy is, why he continuously seeks to push his limits, and the mindset that it takes to endure seemingly impossible tasks.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

hells500.com/
everesting.cc/

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Episode 168- Christian Isakson: Going Deeper

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Episode 168- Christian Isakson: Going Deeper

“It’s amazing to me how little some have and amazing even more that the people that have, don’t do.”

-Christian Isakson

My friend Christian Isakson was the very first guest that I ever had on this show, back on Ep. 8 in early 2016. Only a few weeks before that first conversation Christian had crashed on his bike at Ultraman Hawaii, which practically destroyed his body, breaking bones and puncturing a lung. Now three years later, after a long and arduous recovery journey, Christian has returned to Ultraman, racing Ultraman Florida in February and placing 3rd. I realized after he completed the race that it was about time that I should catch up with Christian. In today’s conversation, we delve not into a recap of the race per se but more into an exploration of the mindset behind Christian Isakson. We explore who he is and what drives him to push his body to its limits and beyond. The importance of finding a deeper meaning for racing beyond a T-shirt or medal is vital and Christian is a firm believer in this idea. Today’s episode is a wide-ranging discussion on everything from how he prepared for and executed Ultraman Florida, to the role that his Christian faith plays in his life, to racing for something more than yourself, and to how to endure.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

Find Christian:
christianisakson.com
Instagram: @luke920 instagram.com/luke920/
Twitter: @lukeninetwenty twitter.com/lukeninetwenty
Facebook: @luke920 facebook.com/luke920/

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Episode 167- Tiredness = Sickness: How to Stay Healthy

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Episode 167- Tiredness = Sickness: How to Stay Healthy

When your body becomes run down you are more likely to get sick. That simple truth is clearly apparent when you are fatigued and stressed because often those are the times when you become sick. The science backs this up, with many studies corroborating the fact that fatigue can weaken your immune system, leading to an increased risk of infection. As I am just overcoming a recent cold I have been thinking a lot about the best practices that one can employ to prevent fatigue and therefore prevent sickness. The key is to listen to your body. During times of tiredness and stress your body sends clear signals that you need to slow down and rest. Often, when you don’t listen to those warning signs, you become sick. The more that you can return to center and stay focused on keeping your body healthy the less likely it will be that you will get sick. Join me today as I explore a few key practices to stay energized and prevent sickness from day to day.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

touchingthetrail.com/writings/2019/2/2/why-you-should-wake-up-early
touchingthetrail.com/resources/#meditation

Sources:
mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757
webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/immune-system-lack-of-sleep#1
sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150629110803.htm
Janssen, N., et al. "Fatigue as a predictor of sickness absence: results from the Maastricht cohort study on fatigue at work." Occupational and environmental medicine 60.suppl 1 (2003): i71-i76.
Akerstedt, Torbjorn, et al. "Predicting long‐term sickness absence from sleep and fatigue." Journal of sleep research 16.4 (2007): 341-345.

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Episode 166- Using Complexity to Better Yourself

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Episode 166- Using Complexity to Better Yourself

This past Friday I turned 20 years old and now I am officially no longer a teenager. As such, I have been thinking deeply about the paths that we take in our lives. I recognize that my path, throughout my teenage years, led me to do and accomplish more than what is expected of the typical teenager. I have consistently subverted what is considered to be “normal” and that has led me to consider how to continue that practice into my 20s. One aspect of that practice, of living my individuality, that I know will be for certain is that the journey will not be easy, it never is. However, I have come to recognize that that challenge, inherent in our trails, is the key because it is the teacher. By enduring through adversity, engaging with it, and learning from it we emerge from the other side of the difficulty better for it. Join me in today’s episode as we explore the mathematical concept of fractals to illustrate the use of difficult situations as tools for personal betterment.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 165- Luke & Dylan Reiss: Teenagers Shaped by Adventure

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Episode 165- Luke & Dylan Reiss: Teenagers Shaped by Adventure

I particularly enjoy finding new lines of questioning to pursue with the guests that I have on my show, to get a unique perspective. In our conversation on Ep. 161, Thomas Reiss and I explored the relationship that he has with his sons which has been deeply shaped by engaging in transformative adventures in the outdoors, much like the relationship that I have with my father. A unique father-son relationship, often shaped by running or some other endurance sport is always a topic of conversation that I enjoy exploring because it speaks so deeply to my own life. So when Thomas suggested that I get his teenage sons’, Luke and Dylan, side of the story I was intrigued. Luke has trekked with his father all over the world, to Everest Base Camp, Mt. Baker, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Elbrus in Russia, and the area surrounding Cotopaxi in Ecuador. Dylan has adventured with his dad all over the Sierras and Western US. These experiences, coupled with the fact that they are dedicated athletes in their day to day lives, made them perfect guests for me to sit down and chat with. My conversation with Luke and Dylan delves into how running, international travel, having a strong father-son and family dynamic, adventure, and hiking have shaped them. We explore what it means to have a deep connection to getting out of your comfort zone through adventure in the outdoors shapes a young person’s life.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 164- Using Chaos as a Tool for Growth

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Episode 164- Using Chaos as a Tool for Growth

The relationship between order and chaos has always fascinated me. That dynamic was recently exemplified to me on a train ride from San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles. Outside of the train car, a storm raged in full force, with sheets of rain beating the windows, but inside the car, the passengers and I were peaceful, warm, and relaxed. We watched movies, read, talked, or slept while we exerted no extraneous effort to get from point A to point B. That ride got me thinking about our relationship to chaos and how we can form a more beneficial relationship than the one we typically have. Our typical relationship is marked by being swept up in the tide, becoming overwhelmed or stressed, and letting the chaos control us. However, I have found that, through a shifting of perspective, we can approach chaotic situations as tools to better ourselves. Through an exploration of the scientific idea of entropy, my experiences in the hectic downtown of LA, and the wisdom of the Tao Te Ching I explore the usefulness of chaos as an opportunity to grow.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 163- Parables for Within

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Episode 163- Parables for Within

I deeply believe that a key aspect of education is repetition. As such, your spiritual education must include that aspect. Today I delve into a reminder that in all cases both the answers and questions are found within. That the path that is your most fulfilling life is found through learning who you truly are. That act of meeting yourself is one that is painful, emotional, and difficult but ultimately worth it. Using parables that examine the virtue of going within from Buddhist and Hindu perspectives I hope to remind you today that this tool has been discussed for thousands of years and it has not lost its usefulness. Indeed, it is probably the most valuable tool for bettering yourself because it allows you to peel back the layers obscuring who you truly are, through such techniques as meditation, getting out of your comfort zone, and broadening your mind, all of which are ways to go within.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 162- Matthew Grills: Don't Make Excuses

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Episode 162- Matthew Grills: Don't Make Excuses

“I motivate myself, I think that’s important. If we don’t motivate ourselves then no external person or thing is going to get us out of bed and get us to do what we need to do.”

-Matthew Grills

For a few years now I have followed Matthew Grills on Instagram and, for some reason, only recently did I realize that this vegan Australian ultrarunner would make for a perfect podcast guest. Matthew was introduced to running by his father, much like me, and the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other has deeply shaped their relationship for the better. Exploring these intersections that Matthew’s life is filled with, father and son, running and daily life, family and work, was a focus of mine in today’s discussion. Matthew has built a unique perspective on the world through his many ultramarathon finishes, building his dream of owning and running a cafe into a reality, raising a family, redefining his relationship with his father, and overall learning each day how to be better. In today’s conversational exploration of who Matthew Grills is we delve into each one of these topics, all the while keeping a focus on the mindset aspect of Matthew’s story and how the spirituality behind his journey has played a role.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

Find Matt:
thetattoorunner.com
Instagram: @adventures_and_activism instagram.com/adventures_and_activism/
Instagram (cafe): @thejourneybargara instagram.com/thejourneybargara/

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Episode 161- Thomas Reiss: It's About Showing Up

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Episode 161- Thomas Reiss: It's About Showing Up

“If you challenge yourself and you do hard things, suddenly the things that you think are hard in regular life are not really that hard.”

-Thomas Reiss

The common thread between all of the conversations that occur on this show is the simple truth that pushing your mind and body in the outdoors, beyond your perceived limits, will positively shape you. This truth is evident to Thomas Reiss and his family, who have a deep bond through adventuring in nature. I am always fascinated with conversations that explore the connection between running and life, in today’s chat Thomas and I delve into how the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other can radically change someone for the better. I met Thomas at his house, a beautifully designed structure in San Luis Obispo, where we hiked and drank coffee before sitting down to chat. Thomas’ unique perspective on the world, shaped by running, growing up in Germany, and traveling to adventure everywhere from the Sierras to Everest Base Camp with his sons, shines through in our wide-ranging conversation today. I truly hope you enjoy listening as we examine Thomas’ story, how international travel shapes a person, what it means to learn from failure, how to endure discomfort, the connection between creativity and running, and the intricacies of being a successful runner while raising a family and running a company.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

Find Thomas:
thomasreiss.com
kraftwerkdesign.com
Instagram: @thomas.rei55 instagram.com/thomas.rei55/
Facebook: Thomas Reiss facebook.com/thomas.reiss

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Episode 160- Crack On

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Episode 160- Crack On

An aspect of the health and wellness world that is too often not discussed or explored is honesty, honesty with ourselves and with the world around us. Here on Touching the Trail, I work to present my life, and the ups and downs in it, with an honest voice. I am not perfect, far from it, and as such, I often feel inadequate, insecure, stagnant, or like I have no idea what I am doing. However, I have learned that if I allow myself to become depressed or distracted by such thoughts I am allowing those demons to control me, I am their prisoner. Instead, if I acknowledge their presence and then simply crack on I have found that I can lace up my boots, push through the muck of the challenge, and get to the dry land on the other side of the mud. Instead of becoming mired in the slime I can move forward with a perseverant mindset. We have a responsibility, to ourselves, to better ourselves, but we can only do that if we are strong enough to push through the challenges that arise within.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 159- Daniel Almazán Klinckwort: Aire Libre

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Episode 159- Daniel Almazán Klinckwort: Aire Libre

“If you remove borders, we’re all the same.”

-Daniel Almazán Klinckwort

Aire Libre founders Eme Morato (left), Daniel Almazán Klinckwort (middle), and Mauricio Díaz (right).

Aire Libre founders Eme Morato (left), Daniel Almazán Klinckwort (middle), and Mauricio Díaz (right).

Three key focuses of my life, indeed of what I do here on Touching the Trail, are nutrition, spirituality, and endurance. As such, I was fascinated when I heard about Aire Libre, a retreat hosting and storytelling company based in Mexico City. Aire Libre host retreats in Mexico, with plans to expand their offerings to other parts of the world soon, that combine running, native spiritual wisdom, whole food, and spirituality. I first heard about Aire Libre through my friend Hakim Tafari. Ironically Daniel, co-founder of Aire Libre, reached out to me. I invited him on the podcast to talk about his story and what he and his friends, as Aire Libre began simply as friends who love to run wanting to share an adventure, have built. Today’s episode delves into what Aire Libre is, how ancient native spiritual wisdom can benefit us today, using running as a tool for personal peace and for political change, engaging with the land around us, learning from our pasts, building community, living truthfully, ritual, reading, and more.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

Find Daniel:
dklinckwort.com
Instagram: @dklinckwort instagram.com/dklinckwort/
Facebook: Daniel Almazán Klinckwort facebook.com/dklinckwort

Find Aire Libre:
airelibre.run
Instagram: @airelibre.run instagram.com/airelibre.run/
Youtube: Aire Libre Running youtube.com/channel/UC9du0euKdG0LCsgzI5FT9mQ/
Facebook: @airelibre.run facebook.com/airelibre.run

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Header photo shot by Daniel Almazán Klinckwort

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Episode 158- Broaden Your Horizons

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Episode 158- Broaden Your Horizons

There are often times in our lives, I definitely know there have been in mine, where we let the stressors and responsibilities that surround us control us. Often that situation stems from losing balance, from putting too much focus on one thing and then, when something unexpected emerges, we become overwhelmed. This simple equation has played a major role in my life over my time in college, so going into this new quarter I have realized the importance of making balance a priority. One way of doing that, I have come to recognize, is by broadening my horizons and exploring the aspects of myself that I have not before. By being unafraid to try new things beyond the horizon of my comfort zone I may very well find something new that provides me supreme happiness. Exploring this complexity is a way to help teach yourself more and more who you truly are and what honestly fulfills you, by doing so you learn where to place your time, energy, and focus. Join me today in examining this technique for finding balance.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 157- 2018: Year of Surprises

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Episode 157- 2018: Year of Surprises

Life rarely, if ever, turns out exactly the way one expects it to. Often the case is that it turns out completely opposite to your expectations. 2018 was a year that, for me, turned out completely opposite to my expectations. This year held the highest of highs and lowest of lows for me, but through it all, I realized two key aspects of personal betterment. The first is to embrace the personal growth that comes with facing the unexpected, which this year held a lot of for me. The second is to embrace the fact that change is a constant which, despite the paradoxical-sounding nature of that statement, means that we are never the person we were a year ago or will be a year from now. Personal change is an important aspect of life, if we steer that change in a positive direction. Learning that has been this year’s journey. Today I delve into the ups and downs of this year to illustrate those points. Happy New Year!

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 156- Kristian Morgan: Staring Down the Appalachian Trail FKT

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Episode 156- Kristian Morgan: Staring Down the Appalachian Trail FKT

“Sometimes the mind limits us, when in reality we can do a whole lot more than we really believe we can.”

-Kristian Morgan

Many times in life various pieces fall together, often by complete surprise, to create something beautiful. As I always try to tell the stories of people from all aspects of society who are bettering themselves, I was intrigued when Kristian Morgan reached out to me suggesting we chat. Kristian will attempt to break the Appalachian Trail FKT (Fastest Known Time), currently held by Karel Sabbe, on July 1st, 2019. Beyond this attempt, he is an accomplished ultrarunner in his own right, having completed the Tor Des Geants, UTMB, Marathon Des Sables, Rhonda Del Cims, and more. Kristian and I sat down over Skype, using the magic of the internet to chat across an ocean and continent because he is located in London. Kristian and I explored his story with running, how long, tough races like Tor De Geants have shaped him, how to learn from failure, how to apply the lessons we learn from endurance to other aspects of our lives, the benefits of being present, keeping your body healthy, goal setting, fear, and much more.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

Find Kristian:
kristianultra.com
Instagram: @kristianultra instagram.com/kristianultra/
Twitter: @kristianultra twitter.com/KristianUltra
Facebook: @kristianultra facebook.com/kristianultra/

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Episode 155- Jadd Martinez: Jadd's Got the Runs

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Episode 155- Jadd Martinez: Jadd's Got the Runs

“Things aren’t as easy as just snapping your fingers, you have to work at it.”

-Jadd Martinez

Often the simplicity of putting one foot in front of the other can seem to magically solve almost all of our problems. However, it takes someone who is deeply connected to that truth of running to remind us of it. That someone is Jadd Martinez, a runner familiar with both the day in, day out rhythm of training and the wonder of grand adventures like the Grand Slam of Ultras (four of the oldest 100 mile trail runs,Old Dominion 100, Western States 100, Vermont 100, Leadville Trail 100, and Wasatch Front 100, ran in a year), which he completed in 2016. Jadd and I met to discuss this truth, and many other topics, at his beautiful property in Arroyo Grande, where we also went for a run and hung out at his house. On today’s episode we delve into his story, the benefits of running consistently, learning from discomfort, working with the voices in our heads that tell us to stop when it hurts, learning from failure, engaging with nature, his life as a homesteader, gardening, staying healthy, and more.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

Find Jadd:
jaddgottheruns.com/
Instagram: instagram.com/jaddgottheruns/
Twitter: twitter.com/Jaddgottheruns
Facebook: facebook.com/jadd.martinez

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Episode 154- Sanjay Rawal: Running as Prayer in "3100: Run and Become"

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Episode 154- Sanjay Rawal: Running as Prayer in "3100: Run and Become"

“Humanity evolves not because of physical need, but because of spiritual need.”

-Sanjay Rawal

To tell a truly compelling story is one of the most difficult challenges. To tell a truly compelling story about the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race, an up to 52 day race that takes place around a half mile block in Queens, is even more so. Documentarian Sanjay Rawal was not only able to compellingly tell the story of this race, in his film 3100: Run and Become, but to use the race as a canvas to tell the stories of the Kalahari San Bushmen, the Mt. Hei Monks, and the runners of the Navajo Nation. Sanjay is a wise man who can coherently translate the lessons he’s learned from making this film, and becoming an expert on these various cultures, into a tangible perspective on what they hold for our day to day lives. Traveling the world and becoming immersed in these running cultures has provided Sanjay the intimate understanding that running is not strictly for fitness, competition, or punishment, but that running is a prayer. To share the message that running and spirituality are deeply interconnected, since the dawn of our species, was the mission of the film. Combining the simple act of running and the power of spirituality has always been a focus of mine and so learning from Sanjay was an honor. In today’s episode we delve into the connection between running and spirituality, the making of the film, what we can learn from the stories of the cultures Sanjay covered, how to learn from failure, how to apply the lessons of endurance to day to day life, living truthfully, finding a flow state, humility, using running as a tool for change, and more.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

3100: Run and Become Available Now On Digital!

(iTunes, Google Play, Amazon)

3100film.com

Find Sanjay:
Instagram: instagram.com/mrsanjayr/?hl=en
Twitter: twitter.com/mrsanjayr?lang=en
Facebook: facebook.com/sanjaydrawal

Support Touching the Trail:
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Episode 153- Edwin "The Jester" Ettinghausen: The Jester Speaks

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Episode 153- Edwin "The Jester" Ettinghausen: The Jester Speaks

“Failure is a state of mind.”

-Edwin Ettinghausen

The ability to endure harsh challenges on a consistent basis and the ability to embrace those harsh challenges as not only an opportunity for growth, but also as plain fun, is a rare combination, but Edwin “The Jester” Ettinghausen has it. Ed is a staple of the ultrarunning scene and is well-accustomed to the art of endurance running: he has run 173 100-mile (or longer) races in his lifetime and in 2014 he ran 41 in a calendar year. Beyond his running ability, Edwin is a wise man who can coherently translate the skills he’s learned in running into daily life and talk about how he does that. In today’s episode we take a wide-ranging approach to delve into all aspects of Edwin’s story, his views on the approaches one should take to challenge, how to overcome failure, learning from the past, engaging with others, and the mindset behind living a life where one betters themselves consistently.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

Find Edwin:
Instagram: instagram.com/edwin_jester_ettinghausen/?hl=en
Twitter: twitter.com/runjesterrun?lang=en
Facebook: facebook.com/ed.ettinghausen

Support Touching the Trail:
touchingthetrail.com/donate 
targetreleaserecovery.com

Find Touching the Trail: 
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Touching the Trail Weekly: eepurl.com/bEENNP
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Twitter: @touchthetrail twitter.com/touchthetrail
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