Sam: [00:00:00] You know, I think the mind’s eyes is, you know, it’s a navigator and those visions concepts that we, you know, that we adopt. You know can be directional, so good, better or otherwise, you you know, you put those you put those visions and in your subconscious mind. I think we start to navigate in that direction. And that’s also really important concept or topic for people that are looking at change or goal setting is to simply understand that, you know, things I believe things become or begin with a vision.
Jesse: [00:00:53] This episode of the Smart Athlete Podcast is brought to you by Solpri. If you’re active at all, whether you’re running or simply out walking for the day, you’ve probably experienced one of the number one problems that active people have, and that’s chafing. Solpri’s all-new, all-natural anti-chafe balm solves that problem while feeding your skin the vital nutrients it needs to be healthy. If you’d like to stop chafing once and for all and treat your body right. Go to Solpri.com to check out the Anti Chafe Balm today and that’s S-O-L-P-R-I dot com.
Jesse: [00:01:31] Welcome to the Smart Athlete Podcast. My guest today has a little bit of an interesting career. He started in banking and if you’re on the YouTube version and I say this in a loving way doesn’t necessarily look like a banker, though, maybe a banker I’d probably like to have. I guess I’d say he’s currently the VP of Business Development for ToolCASE. It’s a Denver-based technology company that is working on real-time analytics in the banking industry, he’s the founder of NoZeroDays.com.
It’s an athlete collected in emerging lifestyle brand. We’re just going to talk about that. He’s been an endurance athlete for over 30 years and recently has finished a kind of unique event that as far as he or definitely I might know, he may be the first person to have finished that. So welcome to the show, Sam Piccolotti.
Sam: [00:02:18] Jesse, pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Jesse: [00:02:21] Is it is it a good thing that I said you don’t look like a banker or is or is that a bad thing? Is it?
Sam: [00:02:25] No. Yeah, well, I’m not a banker anymore.
Jesse: [00:02:28] OK.
Sam: [00:02:29] So maybe it’s the evolution that we’re all good.
Jesse: [00:02:32] I just, you know, and if you’re not on the YouTube version, Sam’s got a nice beard, which I could never grow. I’m always jealous when guests come on with the beard.
Sam: [00:02:41] Don’t be. But it took me 50 years to get here.
Jesse: [00:02:44] So worth it. You got like, you’re like sweet Colorado. Is that like a no zero days hat or?
Sam: [00:02:51] It is, yes. My NZD.
Jesse: [00:02:53] Yeah. I was like, I was like, You’ve got the color kind of Colorado logo on it. It’s a male in the background. And then like the smaller logo is like, I think it’s a no zero days logo and then the big banner in the background like, you’re dressed well.
Jesse: [00:03:04] So if you’re not on the YouTube version, YouTube.com, says Solpri, you can check it out there, but you’re missing out. You’re always missing out when you’re missing the guest thing from conversation. So, so maybe the question we’ll start off with is try to break the ice is how do I improve my wardrobe? Where do you go shopping? And can I guess we’d have like, what are we doing here?
Sam: [00:03:27] Yeah, the hat is is something I put together for NZD a couple of years back, but quite popular actually. Companies Foco gear out of Colorado. And it was a dime design we came up with. But there is, you know, there’s NZD apparel available on the GNCTD store. NoZeroDays.com. I don’t think you’ll find any of the hats there at the moment, but there’s some there’s some other, some other swag there you can grab.
Jesse: [00:03:58] I had a love-hate relationship over over time with hats. I felt like for a long time it just made my head look weird. And then. I don’t know if I got older or my head changed shape. Maybe I stopped being a child and like my head finally formed or something. But it seems like in the last, I don’t know, maybe post-college. I guess it’s like I’ve slowly started picking up more hats. I wear the 70.3 hats. You get it like every race, I wear those to work out.
Jesse: [00:04:25] I’ve got, you know, different like race hats that kind of look like yours. So I don’t know. I don’t know why it is, but it seems like my brain starts gravitating towards them. And if I let myself, I might have like an inordinate hat collection, of which I would never end up wearing all of them.
Sam: [00:04:45] How about cowboy hats, man?
Jesse: [00:04:47] Well, you know, I live in Kansas City,
Sam: [00:04:49] Down in the city, right?
Jesse: [00:04:50] That would be pretty typical. I don’t think I would stand out for wearing cowboy hats. Not my particular ben. Although I will say that that takes me back a minute to high school. I did a self-portrait for my college art class in high school with the cowboy hat on.
Sam: [00:05:10] You may need to revisit that.
Jesse: [00:05:11] Yeah, it was not me. But maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe there’s a part of me because I am from Kansas City that I’m a cowboy down deep and I want to be, you know, raise cows or something. I don’t know. My dad grew up on a farm. I did not. So I’m not quite sure that I got that gene or got that urge. But maybe we’ll see, you know what you do? And then we’ll, go chicken
Sam: [00:05:37] Yeah, go barbecue in a two step and you’re right back in it.
Jesse: [00:05:42] So something like that. So I wanted to ask you a little bit about kind of your development, I guess over time in terms of your career, you said you’re not a banker anymore. I have friends who are endurance athletes who I think he lives in Baltimore now. He lived in New York, lives in Baltimore, and he wants to be an investment banking and makes a lot of money. Why would you leave banking? It seems like it’s a good place to make a living.
Sam: [00:06:15] You know, I can’t say I ever aspired to be in banking, but, you know, early on in my career out of school, I had been working for my uncle, who’s a homebuilder. And again, I was selling homes for him and and. I, you know, I had banking representatives coming in that was doing financing for us and that kind of thing and. And it look like a good look like a good gig. These guys were dressed nice and they come in driving nice cars and, you know, as a young 20 something, I thought, Hmm, you know, maybe that’s something I should look at. And one of the guys one day said to me, Sam, you really got a knack for, you know, for numbers.
And, you know, putting these financing terms together, like if you ever thought about banking and I thought, Well, no, I hadn’t, but maybe I will. And anyway, I pursued an opportunity in banking. I started off as a mortgage loan originator. And, you know, I’ve always I’ve always had a thirst for new things and knowledge and trying to, you know, see my potential in different areas.
[00:07:25] And so it looked like a fun challenge. But but I had immediately taken to it. I started doing really well. I’d been recruited into a couple of different roles landed an opportunity with what, it was first Union Bank at that time. The first Union Bank was in a race at that point. This is the mid-nineties in a race with Nations Bank to become one of the nation’s largest banks are both headquartered down there in Charlotte. They called me and asked if I’d be interested in looking at running consumer credit for them and the state of Pennsylvania, and I didn’t know much about consumer credit. They seem to think I had potential in that role, so I’ll take a look.
[00:08:11] Anyway, I got the job. I fell pretty quickly in a success there. Ran for them. What was the largest producing market for first Union for several years was high performer in that out of five states was this top performer in that area. That opened up, you know, new challenges with me at the institution that they were, they were growing and expanding. They, you know, they called upon me to step into other segments of the bank and take over retail market for them. And I quickly found myself. You know, on on a on a wild ride of promotion and and change, I think it was with first union 10 years, I had been nine times realigned in in 10 years.
[00:08:59] So you know, one of your questions like why would I get out of banking? Because, you know, frankly, I got I got tired of running that gantlet. I’d been fortunate to always land on my feet and better in a better position, or at least better from a promotional standpoint. But I realized that, you know, it really wasn’t where I wanted to be. I had been absorbed in, you know, in that career started a family had this passion for fitness and triathlon that I was trying to balance.
[00:09:32] And I quickly found myself in a place where I was imbalanced. I wasn’t happy. I was, you know, working essentially seven seven and trying to, you know, try to be attentive to my wife and and my, you know, my growing family and and yet my own personal desires and interests to stay in the stay in the world of triathlon or the recreational world triathlon and having a tough time with it. And I had this lifelong ambition to move west.
And I kind of thought that at some point, you know, that that banking progression was going to lead me there through acquisitions. And it turns out that it did first became Wachovia. Wachovia became Wells Fargo, a Western headquartered bank, but not in time enough for me to, you know, to make the change that I wanted. So in 2001, I had an opportunity to take a severance package with them, and I thought this time to reinvent myself.
[00:10:35] I started business with the ambitions of bringing that business westward and, although that didn’t work out the westward expansion of that business, and it’s selling a business and moving west in 2004 and exiting banking, I still involved in the banking industry. My clients are predominantly financial institutions, so I’ve got that acumen. I’ve got that background. But but I’m not a banker anymore, so to speak. But, but it gave me it really gave me an opportunity to pursue other lifelong ambitions.
Jesse: [00:11:15] What I think is always an interesting question for most people. And like you, I think it changes for many people over time. Is this? I think back to when I was a kid, I think it was in Sunday school. We’re doing an exercise about, you know, the false dichotomy I like to point out of. Would you rather do a job you love? We get paid little or do a job you hate and get paid a lot. And I do like to point out that it’s a false dichotomy because you don’t necessarily have to. It’s not.
If you make a lot of money, you’re going to hate your job. You can you could potentially find a job you like. It also makes a lot of money and then it’s harmonious. But it’s interesting how we kind of shift priorities over time, right, where I think it’s easy for us to see ourselves sometimes as almost static like I am this person, like I am a runner, I am a triathlete.
[00:12:14] I am this thing. But it’s, you know, the reality is there’s so much more ebb and flow to our lives who we think we are, what we want. And then for sure, you know, just acknowledging that, I think is. Difficult, it’s hard to accept. I’ll say dynamic systems. It’s the kind of like mathy brain in me there. But it. It’s just interesting to see how that change is, and I think for most people, it will change. I don’t I think there’s very few people that are like, this is the one path, like from the time I was 18 to the time I’m 80, like, I’m just —
Sam: [00:12:58] I think you’re right. And it’s tough. I remember, you know, going through those challenges. It wasn’t Sunday school, but, you know, just throughout high school, when you’re when you’re trying to figure out what you’re what, you’re your next juncture is after graduating, going to college. What what are you going to be for the rest of your life, right? And you know, I think I think things at least. Maybe, maybe it’s true people in my generation. They may be trying to work to instill different concepts and ideas in their kids, but when I was growing up, it’s like You’re going to be a doctor, a lawyer, a cop fireman. I mean, you pick something.
[00:13:43] And frankly, I remember my father. And, you know, maybe this subconsciously is why I ended up in banking, but I started off with the concept of in high school, I was going to go to school for cinematography. I wanted to be a wildlife cinema photographer. I wanted to be that guy in in, you know, National Geographic that was, you know, down in the tundra, you know,
Jesse: [00:14:07] Sitting in the bush for a year.
Sam: [00:14:08] Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. And I remember my father saying, you got to do something practical. And you know practical –.
Jesse: [00:14:16] The good intentions of all parents there.
Sam: [00:14:18] Sure. Right. And I don’t know, you know, you might be right. I appreciate what you’re saying in reference to a false dichotomy. But you know, for some people, it is a very chosen path and they find a lot of solace in staying that path. Just not me, not my dynamic. And I think, you know, there are many like us that continue to want to see the evolution of possibilities of who we are and what our potential might be in different areas and, you know, right or wrong or different and probably plagued with that.
Jesse: And to be fair, it could just simply be me projecting because I have so many interests and like you, well, you know, it was starting college. I started as a music composition major. I wanted to score films and I changed out of the major because I was like.
[00:15:07] How how am I going to make a living scoring? You know, there’s only, you know, of all the films that are made like major motion pictures, I think there’s like 200ish a year, like there’s only a handful of people that really make a living in that industry. But then yet here I am, coming back around 10 years later, working on composition. And, you know, like, I’m scoring a short film right now for practice, not for pay in and kind of trying to refine that interest, knowing that maybe I can do both and not worry about the pay side because I do other things. So it’s.
[00:15:49] Again, could this be projection on my part where I go, every everybody must do this weird, squirrely like adventure thing that I seem to be doing?
Sam: [00:15:57] I don’t know. You know, I think the mind’s eyes is you know, it’s a navigator and those those visions concepts that we, you know, that we adopt. You know, can be directional, so good, better or otherwise, you you know, you put those you put those visions and in your subconscious mind, I think we start to navigate in that direction. And that’s also really important concept or topic for for people that are looking at change, or goal setting is it’s simply understand that, you know, things I believe things become or begin with a vision.
[00:16:43] And we often end up in those places and not not realize. I remember you’re familiar with the the audio book or the movie The Secret.
Jesse: [00:16:53] Mm-hmm.
Sam: [00:16:54] I think there’s a segment in there that talks about it and profiles this guy who had ambitions to live in a certain house or something and and then found himself in a period in his life where he’s questioning his presence and his existence and wondering and then went through an old box and looked at a photograph of a house that he inspired to always live in and realize that, wow, I’m living in that house. And he did not realize that he had actually come to, you know, to realize his dream. And and, you know, maybe for you, maybe for me, maybe for that guy, then there’s something else. But for others, you know, maybe that’s where maybe that’s where they lay their stake. I don’t know.
Jesse: [00:17:37] Yeah, you know, it’s. If I think it’s an issue with contentment and trying to find contentment, I’m reading a book right now, I can bring up the title. It’s about this Japanese concept called Ikigai. It’s called Ikigai, the Japanese secret to a long, happy life and it studies. There’s these what are referred to as blue zones on the planet, which are like the places and towns on the Earth that have the longest lived and happiest residents. And the concept basically is it’s like a Venn diagram of four factors.
[00:18:21] It’s like, What are you good at? What can you get paid for? What do you enjoy doing and what brings you fulfillment? Is that the fourth one? Anyway, it’s like trying to find the intersection of all these things. That’s why I like come back to like false dichotomy. It’s, you know, trying to find this this one thing that hits all the stuff for you where you’re happy doing it, you know you can make a living doing it, you’re providing value to other people, all that kind of stuff. So I think. Maybe if you can find that, then maybe you’re content, or maybe it’s a realization that. Contentment is being satisfied with what you have now, even if you are striving for something else.
Sam: [00:19:10] Well, that’d be the that’d be the Zen component that I’ve often said like happiness doesn’t have an address, you know? You know, it’s, you know, it’s feeling it’s emotion. It’s it’s it’s an experience and that that can shift and that can change.
Jesse: [00:19:30] Mm hmm.
Sam: [00:19:32] I don’t know. Interesting topic. I’m going to pick up the book good if I could find it good.
Jesse: [00:19:37] Yeah. After we get done, I’ll I’ll type it or send you a link or something. It’s a pretty short read, so it’s pretty digestible. But it’s something I think about because I actually actually like I’m going through the little rebranding of Solpri right now to try to visually represent my idea a little bit more of the brand is focused on both athletes minds and bodies because so many brands are just focused on like, OK, this is how many reps you need to do and this is the pace you need to run. And just it’s like, OK, great.
[00:20:10] But like, there’s a whole engine that’s running all of that that we like to ignore. And that’s part of the kind of nice part about this podcast is I get to talk to intelligent people that are well thought out, and we can have these conversations about what is contentment versus happiness. But that kind of brings me to you kind of moving on your journey, starting No Zero days from from banking to their like, what’s what’s the juncture in the river of life? Or does that tributary branch off and get get started?
Sam: [00:20:48] Yeah. So in the. In the early onset of the of my banking career, if you will, when when things got pretty demanding, I had since I got married in in 1993 and immediately we we had a child in 1994 and I was working diligently to, you know, to try to be successful in my career. And and, you know, time I had I’m going to back up for a minute, so I’ll take you back 1985, you know, while in school, I was a swimmer growing up. Been a pretty competitive and and and decent swimmer. My cousin was doing a triathlon in a relay format and asked me if I’d be on the team and do the swimming leg.
[00:21:54] He had this elite team that he was hoping to win his relay was hoping to be the number one relay. And so they pulled me in and asked if I did a swim and I didn’t know. I never think about triathlon and I said, Well, you know, how long is this swim? And he said, a mile. I was like, Well, OK. Mile, no big deal. I can. I could probably bang out even though I haven’t been training. So I got in the pool a couple of a couple of times. It did, did a few swims and thought, OK, I could bang a smile out. That shouldn’t be a big deal and showed up race morning, you know, hit the water.
[00:22:30] And I’ve been a lifelong asthmatic, and, you know, it brought us challenges to me as a young athlete. Swimming seemed to be an easier outlet for me from an exercise standpoint. Anything that had anything to do with running. I was challenged with and was often benched, even recess at times. But swimming seemed to present more of an opportunity for whatever reason. From an asthma perspective. But you know, as misfortune would have it that morning, I get out, you know, battling out with a few lead guys. I get a couple of hundred meters and I get asthma attack and I immediately realize I’m in trouble and I’m trying to go boogie to boogie and just, you know.
[00:23:13] Kind of manage the stress and anxiety of, you know, now the asthma and whether or not it’s going to be able to make it through it. And it didn’t work, and I ended up getting pulled into a boat, putting an ambulance put on oxygen, and I was just totally humiliated. This just just totally humiliated. I never met the runner. He was that he was that was that tee to waiting for the cyclist who never got to clip in and right. And I just, you know, I was devastated. So at that point, I thought, Man, that’s it. I, you know, young 20s. But like, I’m going to cure this thing. I’m going to do everything that’s hard for me and see if I can do more of that and if I can overcome my asthma.
[00:23:54] So I start swimming, biking and running, you know, trying to trying to defeat asthma, which didn’t work, but it sent me it set me on a path.
Jesse: [00:24:04] Does this sound like it’s the start of a great movie like I defeated asthma?
Sam: [00:24:08] Right! You know, but it put me on a path of triathlon training and racing, and I really enjoyed it. I was also really into the martial arts at the time and and it stayed with martial arts for a long time. So, you know, I just fitness background this athlete background. But but it put me into this new area of passion and interest. And as my career was taking off, I found it harder and harder to sustain that right? Like, so, you know, we had these we had these Monday night rides, the Wednesday night group rides and and I folks that I was training with local group of triathletes in Pennsylvania was training with our weekends and we do our swim bike run thing on the weekend.
[00:24:50] And then it became the kind of thing where I couldn’t make the Monday ride because I was working. I can make the Wednesday ride the weekends you know I was busy with family and now, you know, I feel obligated and I’m taking time away from my, my wife and and and my child at the time. And it’s just I couldn’t balance it. I couldn’t figure it out, and I became really frustrated, like many people do, you know, trying to trying to balance their lives and their other interests.
That summer of 2000, so now fast forward a little bit to 2001. My wife’s niece was hiking the Appalachian Trail. She she graduated from college, she was Division one athlete and took on the Appalachian Trail. And I just coincidentally had been reading the book A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. I don’t know if you cut the movie or the book. Good book, by the way. It’s still good book. I think it’d be a great read, but but the movie was OK.
[00:25:45] Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, I think, starred in that film. And if I remember, you know, the kind of the plot of the movie it was, these two guys who had kind of become middle aged knew each other in high school and ended up overweight. Whatever life, you know, kind of intervened and they wanted to reconnect by by hiking the Appalachian Trail. Anyway, read the book. Really inspired, intrigued by, you know, what drives people to go out and take months off of their lives and and put themselves in into the wilderness and hike this hike this trail and and you know, many times just the you know, the, you know, the solo experience of doing that was just really intriguing to me.
[00:26:33] So when when Kelly was hiking, she was coming through Pennsylvania, there’s an intersection not far from her mom’s home and her mom is going to hold a barbecue in the backyard for her when she was passing through on her way to katami. And I wanted to be there, so we we went over and I couldn’t wait to meet some of these people. She kind of came in with a group of trail mates that just happened to be navigating through with her at that point and juncture. And, you know, I couldn’t wait to talk to them and get in their heads and find out what was driving them, doing this kind of thing.
[00:27:10] But by my account and mind you, I’m no expert, but I read the book and I started to understand through hiking a little bit on the Appalachian Trail, but by my account they were about 30 days behind preferred schedule. Meaning that they were going to hit Katahdin in the winter, you know, this is August, then step up their game like it was going to be cold. And so whatever they were provisions they had packing maybe down to 40 pounds or whatever that changes that dynamic quickly, you know? Now you’re in in cold weather, hiking and and it makes it that much more difficult.
[00:27:44] So I was curious as to whether or not these people thought they were going to make it because they were so far behind schedule. And I asked Kelly, I said, Hey, do you think you’re going to make it to Katahdin before the snow flies? And she said, I don’t know. We’ve had a lot of zero days. And I thought, wow, like, how could you just not move one day you’ve got this big task in front of you like, you know, to just not hike a mile that day and just hang out in the woods knowing that you’ve got, you know, six or eight hundred miles ahead of you or whatever it was. And it immediately hit me just that man. I’m using these same excuses in my life. Like I, I was of the mindset back then you and I were talking about earlier, you know, this old school triathlon training kind of a mentality where more is better.
[00:28:41] And I firmly believed if I didn’t have two hours for a bike ride, it was not worth my time to get on a bike. I remember my wife going to a spin class. It was 45 minutes long and and barking like 45 minutes. Like, how hard can that be? Yeah, and until I took my first spin class. But but but at the time I had that mindset, so I was not going to the gym. I was not getting on the bike. I wasn’t doing these things because I didn’t have this perceived amount of time available. And so I thought, That’s it, I’m done. I’m going to do something every day, regardless of how much time I have. And. And of course, you know, the rest is history.
I started that in two one and and I’ve done something every day since, but but that was the that was the the juncture, if you will. For me, from a career perspective, I was still in a demanding career. I wasn’t I wasn’t going to lose the obligation or the commitment I had to my family. So I need I need to figure out a way to balance the other things that are important in my life and my health and my fitness desires. And that’s kind of how that all came together.
Jesse: [00:29:58] You know that the mindset in for you listening, if you listen to the podcast regularly, you’ve heard me say this at some point to a guest, I can’t remember who this is a quote I picked up somewhere on Reddit, so I have no idea who the original author is. There’s this idea that people are talking about that. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly. Hmm. And at first, you’re like, like, what are you talking about? And it’s exactly that idea. You’re saying, Well, if I don’t have two hours to do it, I’m not going to do it at all. We’re it’s like, Well, yeah, maybe you don’t have two hours, but you got 20 minutes. Like 20 minutes is better than a big goose egg for the day.
[00:30:41] And I think it’s acknowledging like the reality number one of just how busy our lives can be. But then also knowing that there is still some benefit to be gained from, maybe you only have five minutes. Can you get 20 push ups in? That’s better than nothing.
Sam: [00:31:00] Exactly. And I’ll often say to people, you know when because look, I get that objection a lot like, Oh yeah, well, you must have the time. That’s OK. And I come back often and not in a, you know, a critical manner. But I’ll I’ll just say how how many push ups can you do it in a minute? And, you know, it just seems like the average males somewhere around 30.
[00:31:24] And I’ll say, why are you going to judge me Ironman? I’m not judging. I’m just curious. Like, have you ever tried just to see how many pushups you can do in a minute? Well, no, I’m like, Well, let me know. And you know, they come back with the number and just tease that number 30. You take 30 and you multiply that by 365. You end up pretty close to 11000 pushups. You know, and then I come back and say, Do you think 11000 pushups and make a difference? Do you know anybody that’s done 11000 pushups in a year? And what if? And the reality is, you have a minute. Right? And you probably have more than a minute. You probably have ten minutes, whatever the time frame is.
[00:32:04] But I’m going to I’m going to tell you what, what it’s done for me. You know, certainly there are some, you know, and I don’t have data behind it, except my own existence, right? But you know, but 20 years is doing something. Every day is it’s paid off. And it started to pay off quickly for me back then. I may not have been in the best fighting shape. I may not have been in the best running shape, but I was in the game and I can still show up and I can still compete and it and because like yourself, I’ve got an interest in in a multi facet of of exercise routines, regimes and I’ll limit myself to one thing.
[00:32:45] I’ve stayed pretty healthy and it stayed pretty physically adapted. But the really the other benefit is it took me out of the emotional cycle and roller coaster of being in and out of shape. And and that that to me, has been probably the most beneficial component of the NZD kind of mantra and philosophy is that I don’t beat myself up mentally. I don’t have that. I don’t have that negative self-talk and and decimating conversation with myself. Like, Man, why even bother? I mean, it’s it’s you haven’t been on a bike in three weeks or you haven’t been to the gym or haven’t been in a pool or, you know, you know, you’re not where you were. Those conversations are gone.
And if they if they come into my mental framework at all, they’re they’re just for fragment of time and I can quickly say, No, I’m good. I did something today and I’m going to do something tomorrow when I’ve been doing something. So I think that’s that’s probably one of the most valuable things that I’ve personally gained out of this is that I don’t have that. I don’t have that mental rollercoaster of a feeling down or defeated because I’m not putting a time in.
Jesse: [00:34:04] How much of your job, I guess I’ll say it like coaching athletes in trying to work on people. How how much of your job is not working out their body, but like getting their mind to be in a place where it’s stronger at combating itself, combating that negative self-talk where it’s like, you know, it’s common people have these thoughts. Oh, you’re not good enough, you’re not putting enough training and you need to be faster. You’re not, you know, all of these things, everybody, the voices that people have are different, but it’s very, very common, very common.
[00:34:40] And it takes, in my opinion. It takes practice just like you want to learn to run fast, you’re going to have to put in the time to run fast, you’re going to build your base. I think it takes the same kind of thing with your brain where you’re like. You know, maybe today it’s one hundred percent negative self-talk. And then tomorrow you just interject one little thing you got, now you’re down to 99 percent negative self-talk. And it seems like then that negative self-talk can come back and be like, Well, I’m stronger. It’s like for now, for now. So, so how much of your time do you spend doing that.
Sam: [00:35:20] More time than I anticipated it would be when I started working with athletes? And, you know, I don’t think you can separate them, I think it’s the yin and yang of the holistic component of this thing. For me. And what I what I try to coach or or or allow clients to realize is that mental strength, mental resilience, if you will, can be obtained through physical stress and suffering. You know, we know that the body, we know that the mind can leave the body to do incredible things.
But what I think is discounted is the advantage or the strength that is gained emotionally from applying physical challenges of physical stress. In a myopic standpoint like just look at the hormone benefit and emotional gain from a workout, right? You always almost always feel better going in or coming out than you did going into a workout. Right? Right.
[00:36:44] But you know, there’s a Japanese. I can’t think of the correct pronunciation of the Japanese term. For the expression, but continuances power. And it translates for me really well into those zero days and the fact that that that constant steady application of of training and routine builds strength and builds power. It’s true. It’s true for the body, it’s true for the mind. And if you’re doing both, you know, I think that’s where where you really capitalize on that. So yeah, definitely more time than not. And even, you know, even very seasoned athletes lose lose sight of the fact of how much the mental component can, can benefit or or or hold them back physically. And I’ve always admired like if you look at Olympic athletes, right?
Jesse: [00:37:41] Right.
Sam: [00:37:44] You know that that athlete, right? He wins the Gold Medal on that day. They get that one shot. Maybe they’ve been training a lifetime, right their entire career.
Jesse: [00:37:52] Right.
Sam: [00:37:53] And they get that one shot and they put it together and they make it happen that day. I mean, that’s just incredible. Certainly, you know, training, you know, both physically and mentally comes into play to be able to execute on that. There’s a lot of good fortune and good luck that happens at the same time. But for the rest of us, you know, that are, you know, recreational or just trying to make changes in their life balances balance that career.
And in these these other interests or components of our lives, like fitness and wellness. You’re you’re going to have pitfalls. You’re going to deal with it, right? It’s going to happen. You’re going to have injuries. It’s just it’s going to take you down. But if you can, if you can establish that foundation of consistently putting in the time and building up that foundation, that gives you the resilience to to rely on when those things do happen. I mean, that’s that’s been my experience anyway.
Jesse: [00:38:51] Yeah. You know, it’s like, as you were talking about it, I could be wrong because this has been I have to think about this. It’s been not quite a year, but almost a year now, as you’re talking about. It reminded me of I had a conversation with Kim Vandenberg, who is an Olympic bronze medalist in swimming from the 2008 Olympics. I think we were talking about same kind of thing about just the mental resilience you get that gets built over time through physicality. It’s episode 97 for you, the listener, if you want to check that out and see whether I’m accurate or not in that conversation. But I know that I’ve had that conversation with somebody and I think it was Olympic at one of the Olympic athletes that’s been on the show.
[00:39:32] But just like that realization that it is, it’s a harmony right that they do affect each other in both directions, not just one or the other. And thinking along those lines, I want to talk a little bit about, I don’t know what to call it, so you can tell me what to call, but you’re your big event that you did. And then the kind of subsequent follow up to that, if you’ll introduce it, I guess.
Sam: [00:40:03] Yeah, sure. You’re referring to the the mountain men challenge than I did in 2020 really began in February 2018 to be specific. I was toying around with, you know, what kind of big, audacious goal could I could I give myself, you know, to to really test my physical and mental capacities? For me, it’s always been as much testing my mental capability as much as physical capability and and I had, you know, like like many folks who get, you know, on this endurance track and this Ironman track, I started looking at Ultraman competitions and thinking about those and and they seem kind of daunting and inspiring, but they weren’t unique.
[00:40:57] You know, there’s still hundreds of people that are doing a year and and so it didn’t really capture the full intrigue that I had on on a test or whatever. And I woke up at like three o’clock in the morning in February of 2018, just sat up out of bed. I was like, I know what I want to do. And so, you know, moving west is lifelong ambition and and living in the mountains and having having that kind of a lifestyle and opportunity, and I made that happen. It took me 40 years. But but in a way to kind of celebrate that, I thought, Oh, I know what I want to do. I’ll see if I can do a Ironman distance triathlon above ten thousand feet. I quickly looked up. I got up in the morning and I hadn’t seen anything of that nature organized. I didn’t see anything online about anybody, had ever done anything like that.
[00:41:54] And I thought, Man, that’s it. That’s what I want to do. I want I want to test myself at that kind of elevation. And I quickly called Buddy up, who I do a lot of this nutty stuff with, and I’m like, Did I got? I got the perfect thing for us this year, you know? You know, we could do this. And you know, I was trying to sell the whole concept to him. I’ll rent a cabin and we’ll and we’ll we’ll do the event and we’ll finish and we’ll shot a whiskey. When we’re done, it’s going to be is going to be epic. It’ll be this whole mountain man kind of thing. And the whole mountain man thing kind of came together because as a boy, I was highly influenced by by the film Jeremiah Johnson. I don’t know if you’re acquainted with it, but it was about a mountain. A veteran of, I think was probably the Mexican-American war who had come to Colorado, become a mountain man, get away from society and test his test, his ability to survive in the, you know, the environment in the Rocky Mountains and.
[00:42:53] In any way, I thought, man, it just it’s perfectly perfect kind of legacy test. He immediately was like, Well, maybe we could do that. Like in Denver, we don’t have to go up that high and we can do to try to hedge it over, you know, the Utah or do it out there. And I’m like, No, like, you don’t get it. And I quickly realized that, look, this is this is my path, right? This is wasn’t his path. And I, if I’m going to do this thing, I got to figure it out on my own.
[00:43:22] That year didn’t work out. I I couldn’t figure out how to put it together in 2019. I was busy doing some other stuff. But then, you know, 2020 COVID hit everything, got shut down. I got sick in March and April and and things got quiet and I was still out there training every day and kind of doing my thing. And I thought, Oh. There is no Leadville series happening this year, so the trails are open, and, you know, I could probably sneak up there and get this thing done and not have the impact of other races going on and that kind of thing.
[00:43:58] So on a very short couple of week notice, I I look at the calendar and I’m like, Man, I’m going to pull the trigger on this thing. I want to see if I can do this. I wasn’t quite prepared to train like I wanted to be, but you know, I had this. I had a good foundation of fitness going on and I thought, I want to see if I can, if I can punch through this thing. So I called my son up and and said, Hey, if if you could, I could use some help up there just keeping an eye on me. I’m going to attempt to do this thing. And. And immediately he was all over and he’s like, Get my buddy, you know, my college buddy, he would come up and we could do some filming and you know, and kind of be there to support you.
[00:44:39] So, yeah, August 2020, I forget the exact day and one of the eighth or something. We went up to Leadville on a Friday and set up camp and and I, I’d been up there a couple of weekends trying to figure out logistically, I wanted to do this off road, right? Like how do I, how can I find enough? One hundred plus miles of biking terrain and and and and enough trail to to be able to keep it off road knowing that I’m not going to have any support aid stations or whatever.
[00:45:13] So I have to work out of a hub and be able to come back and self-support myself for this thing. And so I kind of threw some concepts together. A trail use the majority of the Leadville 100 mountain bike course and the Colorado Trail runs around Twin Lakes there, and I’d navigate around it a little bit and I thought this would be perfect. So we set up camp and I had had my cousin and a buddy, we’re going to come up and kind of pace me on the run through the night because my real objective was can I get all of the biking in before dark? I don’t I don’t want to be biking at night. It brings on a whole nother set of risk.
[00:45:58] I don’t mind running through the night, but but I don’t want to bike through the night and and if I am running through the night, I’m not in that great of running shape right now. I’m going to be pretty remote and a good section of this. It’d be great if I had somebody with me. Just just in case I can’t get up, you know? And so I talked to guys coming in, coming up to kind of help me pace through a section or two. I got up in the morning, spent the night freezing, didn’t misjudge the overnight temps they got in the low thirties. I get up in the morning. My son said to me, Dad, it’s really cold, you know, like 30, 40 degrees. I don’t think you should get no water right now. I’m not really built for that cold weather, the cold water.
[00:46:47] But I said, Yeah, you’re probably right. I’m going to jump on a bike. I’m going to bang out maybe an hour and a bike, let sun come up a little bit, let my body warm up because I made the mistake of sleeping outside my sleeping bag that night and woke up cold and see if I can get warmed up and then we’ll start. So about 8:30, I got in the water. And again, made another mistake that they had released the the dam and the water levels change, so the water topography changed for me when I was in the water, I was swimming and I didn’t realize I’d made a wrong turn. And I swam into a kind of a dead end in a lagoon area and had to turn around, come back out, get back on course. What was at least my course and it put me in the water about 20 minutes longer than I had anticipated, and I didn’t realize it, but I slipped into hypothermia.
[00:47:40] I came out of the water, I had this mental confusion when I stopped and looked to my hands were all caught up and I thought, Oh man, you know, like, you are out here too long, you’re just too exposed now. And. And then I I started slipping into like stage three hypothermia. I lost completely. I lost my motor skills, I lost my ability to speak and my jaw locked up and I realized I was in trouble.
Then I also come to the realization that I had further screwed up because I put some people around me who cared about me in a situation where now they were kind of responsible for my livelihood and I knew what was going on physiologically and they didn’t, and I had no way of communicating to them. And I remember looking at my son, you know, he had his hands on his on my knees and was just focused in my eyes and hoping that I was going to be able to communicate with him and give him some directive.
[00:48:43] And I could see him start to well up. And that man, would you do like, you know, you got you got to pull yourself out of this thing like you just you have to pull yourself out of this. And anyway, I was able to kind of communicate a little bit and said, Look, you’ve got to get this wet suit off me and and I need to I need to ingest some warm fluid. I got I got him on my core. And they went right to work and and and got me some hot water and sit down at and got me dried off and wrap me in blankets, put me out in the sun. It was probably an hour and a half and I winded after drop. Then I started flopping around like a fish. It was. It was horrible. It was horrible experience to go through and watch.
[00:49:27] But you know, I came out of it and I was like. I feel good. You know, like I’m hungry, but I think I’m good and, you know, they were kind of pleading with me not to to attempt anything else, but I really I really felt like I was OK. Some of that was just the adrenaline is just coming out of what I just come out of. But I said, Look, keep me in your community, your eyesight. I want to get on a bike. I want to see what I can, what I can do. And I ended up getting like, I think it was 83 miles in that night before sunset in, and I felt good. I pushed the first 40 some miles on the bike a little too hard because I still kind of running on adrenaline.
[00:50:10] But, you know, nightfall I was wrecked. I was just wrecked and and kind of all caught up with me and my buddy was going to pace me. Didn’t arrive yet. My son said, Dad, look, nobody’s clock in here. Like, why don’t you just rest? You just rest for a little bit and you know, and and then get back at it, which was good advice. And I did, and I woke up. I woke up an hour or two hours later looked at my watch.
Heart rate was running at about 85 and I thought, OK, show a little bit of stress, but man, I feel good. I want to get lit, I want to get after it. And I woke my my buddy up who had arrived to come pass me. And he was kind of reluctant to get up and go because he had just fallen asleep. And I said, Look, I’m going to make some coffee. I’m going to get something to eat. I’m I’m going to get on the trail. And if you happen to feel like getting up and joining me, that’d be awesome. And he did.
[00:51:05] And so we, you know, we hit the trail and started running. And anyway, you know, we ended up getting it done. The whole experience for me became much more than than than an emotional or I’m sorry, physical breakthrough. It was in what I was looking to accomplish from a physical and mental test. It ended up delivering so much more when I was setting off to do these gestures. There’s a guy named Wil Turner as a friend of mine. He is a world record holder. He had set off a couple of years ago to do one hundred diamonds. He’s going to start off to do 60 at the age of 60 ended up doing one hundred. I think total in his career, maybe 105.
Awesome guy. And I’d called him up when I told them when I was contemplating and and he’s like, Sam, that sounds like it sounds like an awesome feat. You know, I’ve not been little. I know the series. I understand I’ve never done anything that high. It sounds like it’ll be quite the task for you. I’m happy for you. He’s like, just remember where were out there doing that to, you know, be grateful for the, you know, for your ability to do it in the reasons that you’re out there.
[00:52:20] And I said, Yeah, it’s even more than that. You know, I pulled into Jeremiah Johnson thing and I told him, I said, You know, I don’t know if you know, but Leadville actually was the home of Jeremiah Johnson, the real Jeremiah Johnson, for a short period of time.
[00:52:34] So this thing is all kind of coming together as a legacy event for me. And he said, Sam, I remember the movie well, you know, it came out summer of I think it was 1972. And and the reason I know that he said my my sister, Crandell, and her boyfriend went to see the movie when it was released and when she was leaving the movie theater, she was killed in a car accident. And it was literally the last thing that she had seen. And I was like, Man, I’m so sorry. I didn’t bring it. I didn’t mean to bring up, you know, harsh memories and stuff. And he said, no, actually just the opposite.
He said, do me a favor when you’re out there, dedicate one of those hard miles to Crandell. And, you know, sure shit. I think it was like Mile 17 in the run. I’m coming up on this little berm that I had already run. Once you know, maybe 40 foot of an incline, you know, and I’m like. My cousins with me and he’s talking, and I’m just frustrated and I’m miserable, and I want this thing to end and and I’m like looking at this little hill and I’m like, I’m so over this, I don’t want to run anymore, and I got another hill to run or whatever.
[00:53:38] And and right then it hit me and I thought of Crandell. And you know, that was that was enough inspiration to knock the day off. But when when I was closing the thing out, you know, it was almost anticlimactic, like it was going to happen. I knew I was right there. I was going to finish. I’d been through this stuff and overcome it. Whatever some, some had been up. It’s a new day and and I started to realize like, Wow, this thing was this thing was never about just. You know, hitting hitting this new benchmark from a physical standpoint or testing myself emotionally.
[00:54:17] It was about having this whole experience in this whole new journey. And so it, you know, it was it was it was a very fulfilling task. But it’s, you know, it’s spawned a lot more than that for me emotionally and physically and so we are set right now to kick off an invitation only July of 2022. You got some athletes lined up to come out and and give it a test, and we’re going to try to film and and and promote the event. I’m really excited about some of the folks that are are joining me. I think I think Wil Turner is going to be on a list and he’s not a mountain biker, but he’s going to give it a go and and and we want to be able to profile and spread the the inspiration of what drives these type of people to go out and test themselves and those kind of capacities.
Jesse: [00:55:17] And it’s going to be a pretty cool event. So is there any way to put it on calendar or is it just checking out No Zero Days?
Sam: [00:55:25] Yeah, more more to come. We we just put a stake in the sand July 16th as the proposed date for the event. Yeah, NoZeroDays.com we’ll certainly have information on it. It’ll be shared on other media platforms. As I mentioned, it’s going to be an invite only kind of thing this year, but it should be a lot of fun.
Jesse: [00:55:49] So you’ll want to fall in those zero days, but but before we finish finish, so I have to ask you a question because so I ask a single question to all guests for a single year and I change the question every year. So the question I ask you, I think, especially given that I’ll be interested to see which is something that a lot of people don’t do and I think they need to do. So that’s why it’s my question this year. And that question is how do you celebrate your wins?
Sam: [00:56:24] So for me. Wins have taken on a different perspective over over the years, and, you know, I’d like to think it’s not just because I’ve become older. I’ll call it more mature, but but I think I’ve learned along the way that I’ve shared this with other athletes. We’re talking about the mental component and coaching other people and helping them with the mental aspect of training versus just the physical component. And in particularly in those folks that have gone through injuries or other setbacks. If if your focus is just on the win.
[00:57:11] Where your focus is on getting back to where you were, let’s say, from a comeback or recovery standpoint. And that period or that process may be in a comeback is defined by your doctor, by your PT, whatever it is, you know, as 9 months or 12 months. And if the win in the event the goal is to find as this much training, six months training, 12 months of training these intervals, you know this these these benchmarks, you know, these these tests along the way, whatever it is, and it’s to get to the win. When you finish, you might just get a T-shirt.
[00:57:53] But if you’re present in your open during the process, during the journey, if you will, and you’re mindful of what’s happening during that process, you’ve got so much more to gain. If you’re mindful in your in your where and your present through your through your comeback, you’ve got so much more to gain when you get there than just being where you were before. You’ve got growth, you’ve got new knowledge, you’ve got expansion. So, it may not be the answer that you’re looking for, but I celebrate, I celebrate the win by being aware during the journey and trying to pull as much out of that journey as I can so that when I get to the win, I get more I’ve got a bunch of T-shirts in a drawer. But but I’ve got a lot better memories and experiences than I do. T-shirts, you know?
Jesse: [00:58:48] Yeah. No, there’s nothing there’s no answer that I’m looking for. And that’s kind of the exact point is I try to have these questions where. It hopefully every week, but maybe more often than not, I end up getting a novel or surprising answer that maybe I hadn’t thought of. So that’s it’s kind of the point is trying to be a little bit thought provoking and think about the things that maybe we don’t think about. Sam, where can people catch up with you. Check out No Zero days, all that kind of stuff.
Sam: [00:59:20] Yeah. You bet. Jesse, thanks for the opportunity and I appreciate what you’re doing. Keep, you know, keep doing it, man. I think people are finding a lot of value in what you’re bringing to them. Certainly can get you can get more information at NoZeroDays.com, No Zero Days for Facebook. It’s NZDcolorado@gmail if you want to email me directly. Happy to chat with folks. Share what I can always enjoy the collaboration and and and learning from others. So yeah, feel free to reach out.
Jesse: [00:59:52] Awesome. Thanks for hanging out with me today, Sam.
Sam: [00:59:55] Yeah, it’s been a pleasure, bud. Thanks.