Quick Review: The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei

Instead of being dressed in traditional black Buddhist clothes, they wear white, the color of death. They carry a knife in their belt. This is to take their life if they fail in any element of their practice. Knife for self-disembowelment – belt for hanging. These buddhist monks and super athletes reaching for enlightenment in the here and now thought physical movement.

The 1000 Day Marathon

Their training schedule is crazy. The “1000-Day Marathon”, a big part of their practice, takes 7 years to complete. For the first 5 years they run a marathon a day for 100 days straight. This is repeated 7 times. For the last 2 years the distance is increased to two Marathon distances a day (84km!). They also throw in a 9-day fast into their practice, with continuous meditation, without water and sleep, to keep things interesting.

The 12 year retreat

As if The 1000 Day Marathon wasn’t enough there is also the 12 Year Retreat. Constant cleaning of the dead temple fathers resting grounds. Living on left overs and only allowed to rest for 3 hours a night. FOR 12 YEARS!

Video Review of The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei by John Stevens

Video Review of The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei by John Stevens


When we get familiar with feats like these, either through books or elsewhere, our ability to complain about trifles is diminished. Our standards and expectations of ourselves and others are so low nowadays… SO LOW.. (at least in Sweden where I live), that learning about stuff like this can, at least temporarily, raise the expectation bar a bit.

Book Verdict:

This books in not for everyone – It’s poorly written at times and weirdly edited, but if you are a fan of running, endurance or just fascinating by incredible human achievements – then look no further!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of 5

Find more great book to read on my book reviews page and the Great Books List
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