Ultra-distance runner Vajin Armstrong has carved a formidable reputation for himself in the off-road circuit over more than a decade of racing through Australasia and the world.
Hailing from Christchurch, New Zealand, Vajin is a long-time Macpac partner and an active contributor to product development.
Vajin’s training program has him running up to 280km a week around his local areas of Banks Peninsula and Mt Oxford. In a standard year this mileage will see him burn through around 20 pairs of shoes! It’s that commitment that saw him dominate the benchmark race for ultra-distance runners in New Zealand, the Kepler Challenge, between 2010 and 2012. His personal best in the 60km event is a scorching 4hrs 55mins through the stunning Fiordland terrain. He has since followed that up with a string of podium places in events throughout Australasia, the US and Europe, including taking the win in the 2016 Swiss Alpine Marathon in Davos.
Despite his formidable race results, for Vajin, winning is not the ultimate goal.
“Running is such a simple and natural activity, it can be done anywhere, at any time and without any expensive or complicated equipment. It is a pure experience of yourself and your surroundings,” he says. “When I run I feel the most alive, free and the most connected to the world around me. I try to concentrate on enjoying the experience – once it becomes suffering and you want it to be over, then you mentally check-out.”
His deep love for his sport and the opportunities it creates for him is palpable.
“For me the highlights of doing what I do are the opportunities to travel and meet inspiring people from around the world, as well as the chance to try and inspire people to follow their own dreams and aspirations. We all have the capacity to do wonderful and amazing things, sometimes we just need some encouragement and support to enable this to happen. It gives me such satisfaction to feel each day that I am working towards my goals and then during the event itself the experience of giving yourself completely to the task at hand is very fulfilling.”
Named Luke at birth, Vajin later took on his spiritual name, given by his meditation teacher. Meaning swift, strong, spirited and heroic, Vajin certainly lives up to the qualities bestowed upon him.
Meditation has become an important part of his daily regime and key to his preparation for running.
“For me the practice of meditation and the practice of running are completely interrelated. Through running I develop concentration, discipline and determination while from meditation I gain peace, stillness and tranquillity. It is always important to have balance in life between stillness and movement, between our focus on the outer aspects of our lives and taking the time to develop and connect with the deeper inner parts of our being. While running, especially in long events, I do try and use the skills I have developed from meditation to make my mind still and calm and to be present in the moment. Very often when we are attempting to do something really challenging it is our own mind that can become our worst enemy. Our doubts, worries and insecurities can all attempt to hold us back. Having that ability to quieten the mind and focus on the task at hand is an invaluable skill.”
When he’s not running the mountains of the world, Vajin enjoys his time at home in Christchurch, where is runs a business importing musical instruments.
You can follow Vajin through the Macpac Log Book, or through his Facebook feed: https://www.facebook.com/Vajin-Armstrong-1403109616622464/
Profile Photo by Dom Channon