On 1 November 1991 Sudhahota Came To...

On 1 November 1991 Sudhahota came to Sri Chinmoy’s running track at Aspiration-Ground to offer him more coaching tips.

SUDHAHOTA: You look fine, Guru. You’re staying relaxed and letting your arms swing. There is only one thing: just make sure your jaw is relaxed. Other than that, your arms and shoulders are swinging and you’re turning over.

SRI CHINMOY: Even then, I have my same, eternal problem: how to increase my stride.

SUDHAHOTA: If you stay relaxed and just let your feet turn over, we’ll just keep the stride but increase the pace so you run faster. Your stride length is fine, but by being relaxed and turning over, you will just go faster and faster. Unlike us, most of the time you remember what you are supposed to do.

(Sri Chinmoy sprints again.)

SUDHAHOTA: Your legs are more relaxed and you’re letting your arms swing. The arms really dictate the stride; you can’t have a longer stride than your arms can dictate. So when we got you to swing your arms, that basically told your legs how far to go. A lot of times people try to get a long stride before they deal with their arms, and their stride is longer than their arm swing. Then everything is out of sync. That’s why I really focus on the arms because they tell the legs what to do. So just stay relaxed and keep turning over and don’t try to reach or stretch at the end. Just keep that stride turning over. That’s the way to get your speed.

Well, I wish to God the people at University of Houston were so easy to coach. They’re all kids and they’re tough to teach. Every day you tell them the same thing over and over, but they don’t learn anything!

SRI CHINMOY: Then I am a good student?

SUDHAHOTA: Yes, you’re a very good student because you listen and learn.

SRI CHINMOY: I am dying to listen to you. Three or four days ago when I was in Germany, I was talking to my German coach. He could not come to my concert in Frankfurt because he was out of town. So I called him from the airport. I was telling him that one of these days he would hear from me that I had broken the personal record I had set at the Ashram where I was brought up. He started laughing and coughing. “Oh, oh, Chinmoy!” he said. But I only said, “Wait, wait, wait!”

I always set a goal, and then I try to go beyond and beyond. Self-transcendence itself is my goal. So my immediate goal is 13 seconds. By April 1 want to run the 100 metres in under 13 seconds. Something within me is telling me that I will be able to do it. Then gradually, gradually I have to come to my dreamland, which is 11.7 seconds. That was my best timing when I was in the Ashram in India. At that time I was around 25 years old, and I kept that timing for a long time. Once I reach 11.7 seconds, then I have to go to 11.6. It is a long way to go, but if you don’t start, then how will you move at all? You have to start at one point. So now I have started. My immediate goal is 13 seconds. But eventually I want to reach 11.7 seconds and then even transcend that goal. So, do you think it is possible?

SUDHAHOTA: Yes, but you have to work.

SRI CHINMOY: I am working.

SUDHAHOTA: Yes, I see. Just keep your tempo all the way through. Relax and keep turning over. And remember, if you try to reach at the end, you’re going to slow down.

SRI CHINMOY: This tempo comes from the hands?

SUDHAHOTA: Right! Once you get up to full speed and your arms are swinging, just let your legs follow your arms. If you keep your arms going the whole time, your legs will follow.

SRI CHINMOY: Recently I got the inspiration to offer you something. Since you are now 30 years old, I would like to offer you 30 soulful messages. I have started writing them. In a day or two I will complete them. We will make a booklet, and it will have lots of pictures.

I would also like to have your kind permission to make another book. Over the years you and I have had many momentous conversations. Most of them have been recorded. With your kind permission, I would like to make a book out of these conversations, also with many, many pictures. Of course we would publish it only in a very limited way. Our Agni Press would make a few hundred copies — mostly for the disciples. But again, we have some friends all over the world, and we would also give it to them.

SUDHAHOTA: Oh, of course, Guru.

SRI CHINMOY (showing his new portable stairway): This is a new exercise I have been taking. I go seven times up and seven times down. It helps me.

SUDHAHOTA: That’s good. That is definitely good.

SRI CHINMOY: It’s hard work.

SUDHAHOTA: I know it’s hard. Running stairs is very good training. I started doing it myself this year.

SRI CHINMOY: You do a few steps or go very high?

SUDHAHOTA: They’re higher than yours. We go about twice as high. It’s in a stadium, though. Climbing stairs is good because it helps you get stronger without doing weights.

Guru, since we’re talking about working hard, do you run up these stairs?

SRI CHINMOY: The first time I don’t. After two or three times I run up.

SUDHAHOTA: One time you should hop all the way up.

SRI CHINMOY: Hop? Oh, I will die. It is so high for me.

SUDHAHOTA: Half way, then. Do it once during every workout. Just hop with two feet. Make sure you push off with your toes and then go on down to the balls of your feet. You can take it slow; it doesn’t have to go fast.

SRI CHINMOY: What will the hop do for me?

SUDHAHOTA: When you’re sprinting, you push off. The last place you push off with is your toes. What it does is give you the firepower to push off the ground. Running gives you the strength. But the hopping gives you firepower to push off the ground.

SRI CHINMOY: I will try.

(Hops up the stairs almost to the top.)

SUDHAHOTA (seeing Sri Chinmoy go beyond the halfway point): Workaholic!

SRI CHINMOY: What you are teaching me, I am practising most devotedly. But you have to do the same thing in your own life. You have to become more and more serious about your long jump. You have become the fastest, supreme world-champion runner, that everybody knows. Now you have to do something else; you have to become the longest jumper. You have touched the destination in running; but now you have to go beyond in the long jump. When will your next long jump meet be?

SUDHAHOTA: Probably in February — either in New York or New Jersey.

SRI CHINMOY: I will go, I will go! Now, I would like your advice about running in spikes. I was brought up in a spiritual community, where I didn’t have the opportunity to use spikes. Now, when I use spikes, I feel so uncomfortable, and they give me pain in the shinbone. When I was in Germany recently, they gave me the absolutely shortest possible spikes, and still I was feeling uncomfortable. If the spikes are longer, O God, it is worse. So please tell me the advantages of using spikes.

SUDHAHOTA: Spikes mainly help the grip. They’re also lighter, but they won’t make that much of a difference if you get a light pair of flats. Spikes can make a difference, but I don’t think they make as much of a difference as people say they do — maybe a few tenths of a second in the 100 metres.

SRI CHINMOY: In your case, the ones you used this time were quite long.

SUDHAHOTA: Well, they definitely helped, but it’s really hard to say how much because I always wear them. They help, but if you find them uncomfortable, I don’t think the advantages offset the discomfort. If it were like the difference between wearing combat boots and spikes, then I’d say, “I’m sorry, you have to let your feet hurt.” But it isn’t that big a difference.

SRI CHINMOY: Do you use them when you practise?

SUDHAHOTA: Oh yes, I use them all the time. In practice we use different ones than in competition.

SRI CHINMOY: It does not give you an uncomfortable feeling to wear different spikes on the day of the competition than what you have practised in?

SUDHAHOTA: No, I wear new shoes every race, which is strange. Most people like to break them in, but I like brand new shoes every race. The ones I sent to you, Guru, I only wore that one time.