Question: Why is long-distance running becoming more popular in America these days?

Sri Chinmoy: Previously America's soul cared only for speed. Like a bullet America wanted to run faster than the fastest, and it showed only its speed. Everything it did was faster than the fastest. But when it was a matter of endurance, America got frightened. American speed and American endurance didn't rhyme in those days. But the American consciousness has gone higher in the last eight or ten years. Now America feels that speed is necessary and endurance is also necessary. So now America cares for speed and it also cares for stamina.

Whenever America takes up something, it is only a matter of time before it does that thing well. Now that America has accepted long-distance running, it has improved tremendously in this area. How many excellent, excellent, super-excellent long-distance runners America has already produced, although long-distance running has been part of the American consciousness only for the last few years. Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers and so many others have immortalised long-distance running in the consciousness of America in a few short years. When the consciousness of a country accepts a particular thing, that is the golden time. Ten or twelve years ago it was all short-distance running. But now is the golden time, the opportune time, for long-distance running in America. Several years ago, who cared for the 24-hour races or 50-mile and 70-mile races? Even in the newspaper, one rarely saw anything about ultramarathons. The ultramarathon almost did not exist. But now it is common. All over the world, in fact, there is such interest in long-distance running, especially marathons.

Long-distance running gives us a real feeling of accomplishment. We can run 100 metres forty times during the year and not feel the same sense of accomplishment as when we run one marathon. But speed and endurance are both important, especially in the spiritual life. If one has only speed, then one cannot ultimately succeed; we need endurance because the goal is quite far. Again, if one has only stamina and no speed, then it will take forever to reach the goal. Only if someone has both qualities will he be able to make very good progress in his spiritual life and achieve something really great in life.