Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 37 - David and Megan Roche - THE HAPPY RUNNER - Part 2 of 3

My friend and business mentor, we-- I basically say he's like the 60-year-old version of me. Although he doesn't look it because he runs, he takes care of himself. And he says, “Yeah, none of it matters. So, you are the one that gets to imbue meaning on it.
Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 37 - David and Megan Roche - THE HAPPY RUNNER - Part 2 of 3

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JESSE: My friend and business mentor, we-- I basically say he's like the 60-year-old version of me. Although he doesn't look it because he runs, he takes care of himself. And he says, “Yeah, none of it matters. So, you are the one that gets to imbue meaning on it.” It puts the onus on you, and a lot of responsibility on your shoulders, which can be crushing but can also be freeing in the sense that, yeah, none of it matters. Like I don't have any external validation to me. It's all up to me to decide what's important. I think maybe you're kind of touching on that earlier basically, that internal locus of control where you're like, I control the things that matter to me and I do things that are internally motivated instead of I want to have a gold medal or a beaver trophy or whatever. MEGAN: Yeah. I think my point is really interesting. I've actually noticed that myself and then athletes that I've worked with who might be more driven or may be prone to towards anxiety, that thinking about that, and coming at that with the lens of like, “Oh, maybe these little things don't matter as much is what gives them the meaning to like go and take failures and take risks.” And so it's almost like that-- It's kind of like that gateway that you can get to really putting yourself out there and getting to that place of like, “Oh, my gosh, I want to do everything sort of situation.” DAVID: Yeah, totally agree. I mean, I think it's the most empowering, thought process you can have. And the reason we try to talk about it all the time is if you have that understanding of the impermanence of things, you can also give yourself the grace to just say I'm freaking awesome the way I am right now. Like, no matter what that means, and from there, you can then take risks. You can fail, you can strive, you can do all these things without having an impact that like that core value, that core thing of like finding the goodness in things and all that. So, yeah, I mean like, it's almost a cop-out in some ways, because all this stuff is way more complicated. But for us like essentially what we say to athletes and like in the previous email that-- and our previous email ended up becoming the book was your stardust with delusions of grandeur have that give you the strength and the power to like put yourself out there and not worry too much about what comes of it. JESSE: Well, I think it seemed like almost constantly through the book, you kind of almost try to redress yourself in terms of like saying, “Okay, I know this sounds really whoo-whoo, but…” So, have you dealt with any kind of, I guess I'll say backlash? That's a little dramatic but you know what I mean, like a backlash for that kind of approach, instead of like being super scientific and everything's quantitative and we are going to measure absolutely everything. Have you got any like, I will say haters or negative feedback for that? MEGAN: Yeah, we've definitely had our share of haters. I think actually, honestly if you put yourself out there, I think anyone's gonna have haters. There's like a percentage out there like 10% of the people in the world are going to hate you no matter what you do. The more that you build your following the more that 10% becomes in terms of like a pure whole number. So, we've definitely had our fair share of haters. It's actually been interesting. I don't look at Amazon reviews, David does. And so-- JESSE: I try to stay away from many more for like any of the products I bring out. Like, I'll look at them every once in awhile, but it's so much easier to focus on the negative ones and be like, “Why don't they like it?” Like I want them to like it. DAVID: It's so interesting. Like, I mean, it gets to everything. So, that being a good example of someone being like, “Oh, it changes my life.” And then one person being like, “This is the worst book I've ever read.” And it's the same book. And that gets back to everything I think in life. Like if you had Amazon reviews on us as people it would look the same way, where it's like hopefully, we'd have 90% five stars, but there would definitely be some one stars. And I think the we all die thing also comes with that turnaround, which is like, you're not going to be on the same page as everyone else, and that's okay. I like what Pete Holmes says about stuff, the comedian Pete Holmes says about stuff that like a movie he doesn't like or whatever he says it's just not for me. And I accept that I am not for other people too. Like we're not for other people, and just because someone doesn't share our approach, that doesn't mean they're wrong at all. It just means that we might not be getting a drink at the bar. MEGAN: Well, I think when we sat down to read that book, our number one goal was to stay authentic to who we are. So, we were only going to publish a book that we felt like was in our voices was authentic to who we are. And it made it actually a lot easier to write the book because it was like when we were editing, it was like, is this us, is this authentic? And as a result, like it was just really fun to put out there. But I would wonder actually if you would have a higher percentage of haters if you weren't authentic to yourself. I'm like fascinated by, I'm sure there's like statistics out there on that, I'm fascinated by that ?? 05:02>. DAVID: Probably depends on who you are. MEGAN: That's true. That's very true, yeah. DAVID: If you ?? 05:06> authentic probably worse if I wasn't authentic, probably better actually. JESSE: There's almost-- I've had people that, and this isn't the entrepreneur community, but people that are almost like, you need to do things like this particular has to do with marketing messages. You need to do things so that people don't like you. You need to make it polarized because if there are people that don't like you, there's gonna be people that really like you. If you're trying to please everybody, you end up in this like, weird, lukewarm people are just like, “Yeah, they’re okay.” You don't want people to be like, “The book was okay.” Right? You want those like, “That changed my life,” And then other people just feel like, “That was the dumbest thing I've ever read.” Like, you gotta have that divergence if you want to have those high ones. DAVID: And yeah, I think that probably applies to our coaching too like especially at first, I would say that there was a fair amount of pushback within like the community. And by again, like the pushback there is being vocal. So, you hear it more ?? 06:12> more tuned to it because that's how our brains work. But it's I mean, I haven't heard anything recently, and that's actually nice because I think, in general, the message we're trying to push is like, it's not one of right or wrong. It's just one of like, no matter what you think you're right. So, I think people are starting to get a little bit more accepting of that, at least in our little edge of the world. Because we're not trying to say that someone that disagrees with us is wrong. We're just trying to say like this is what works for some of the people we are around and know. It's definitely not for everyone. I mean, like before we coach someone, we asked like a million questions, trying to get at that like, is this for them? And so, yeah, that's kind of where we're coming from. JESSE: It almost seems like I've kind of described this philosophy I think for longer than college, but it came to a point where I could actually describe it as essentially utilitarianism like the harm principle. Like, you do your thing if you're not harming anybody else whatever. No big deal. It's okay. I kind of-- I think you guys probably are taking a kind of similar approach like this works for us, this works for a lot of people we know, we also know it's not going to work for everybody and that's fine. DAVID: Oh, yeah, I mean whether it's John Stuart Mill or ?? 07:30> or like… JESSE: ...we got into... DAVID: ?? 07:34> or whatever. Like, I mean, everyone's kind of saying the same things I think at the end of the day just with different packaging. And the packaging that we wanted to adopt on like, again, we have no new ideas. It's just essentially like you are loved. Like you where you are right now you are so loved and so just take that and apply it to athletics as much as possible, since that might be a place where it doesn't always apply because you do have times, you do have pro cards, you do have aging and all these other things. So, we're just like, yeah, you're always loved and like, as a community, we hopefully, can build that up more and more over time. And then it just makes everything else seem a little less dark and scary. MEGAN: I think getting back to the hater thing I just want to comment on real quickly is that like, even though we're so nonchalant about it, and we make fun of like some of the haters that we do have are like the one star reviews, it still does hurt a little bit. And I think like-- JESSE: Oh, yeah. MEGAN: Yeah, and I think like, that's a natural human emotion, and we're like, we're totally fine with that. And like, I think the more practice you have, the less it hurts, it hurts for like two seconds as opposed to like a whole day. But I think like, even though we're so nonchalant about it, like we're still human, and it still hurts. DAVID: Oh, she's more nonchalant than I am. She's better at this than I am. I'm the one that like internalizes things and like still feels bad about a tweet someone sent three years ago or something. So, yeah, it's all trying to grow a little bit. JESSE: So, I talked about this with some people depending on kind of what our topics are. But is the happy runner basically laying out what you believe the purpose of sport is? MEGAN: I think it's for me, it's laying out the purpose of sport for some individuals, so I think the philosophy-- this kind of gets back to the last discussion that we were having. I think the philosophy in the book is powerful for individuals who may be highly driven, may struggle with anxiety, who are looking to like enjoy the process. I think the happy runner for building a world champion, Olympic level athlete may not be the best philosophy. Would you agree with that, David? DAVID: I think it depends. MEGAN: It depends. I think it’s so dependent on the person. DAVID: I mean, and I think it gets back to what you were saying before with your-- you were saying drive runs in the family, and that's so intuitive. So, Megan, in addition to all the things she does works-- She's doing a Ph.D and that overlaps with genetics, and she's working in a genetic startup. And essentially, the more we learn about genetics, and I'm paraphrasing everything she's taught me here, we learned that so much of this stuff, it seems like it's a choice, seems like it’s character and all these other things, is something that's semi-programmed and we can change a little, but athletics is the same way. So, I would disagree slightly on that for the first time ever, and just say that-- JESSE: I had a feeling. I saw your face and I was like I should probably check in with you on this one. DAVID: Well, let the marble finds its groove or whatever, where those types of athletes are it's because of the parents that they have, yeah, and from there, yeah, you add things on top of that, whether like, an obsessive drive or you know, in unfortunate cases doping and things like that. But yeah, I mean, I would just say that like, that same reasoning applies to all of us. So, you strive but strive with the understanding that it's not a question of how hard you work. It's not like a race isn't being like, “Oh, this person is the toughest of all.” It's like “No, a lot of this is out of your control.” And so I would say that that is kind of a philosophy on sport, generally to, which is a lot of this is out of your control. And with that context, like make sure you love every day, make sure-- or by love not necessarily enjoy, but it's something that you're doing not because of external validation. And from there, yeah, then you can bring the-- lift everyone up and things like that. So, yeah, I mean that basically like the message of the book I would say is cut yourself and cut others so much slack. And from there, then you can open up the door to like, loving others and things like that. JESSE: I'm trying to remember-- So, before we got going for the recording, before the recording got going, we're talking about Mike Haggadone, who I'd had on a previous episode is who said I should speak with you guys. And I feel like I spoke with Mike about this, but I could be wrong because I think I've spoken to several people who are in the ultras. And I almost-- you guys may have some insights into this from the people you work with. I almost feel like we could probably learn more from the people that are the last people finishing an ultra, versus the people that win the ultras because I think I said at that time, whatever interview it was when they start there, I would say 90% of the time, they know they're not gonna win, like they're not out there to win. And there's some kind of deeper insight they have about why they're out there and what's driving them besides, I want to be on the podium. DAVID: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think when you start to delve down into that, it becomes a complex question. I mean, I would say that from what we try to say to everyone is that you're all in-- Everyone is an elite athlete, as long as you're pursuing your potential in the context of a life that's meaningful to you, so that's our caveat. And within that framework, we find that everyone pretty much gives what they have and goes through similar things. So, maybe some of the motivations are different, but we're trying to push everyone to be the same motivation, which is like you're exploring meaning as it relates to you on that day, trying to make stories trying to laugh at yourself and learn from failure and all those other things. So, yeah, we try not to differentiate too much based on like, whether someone's at the front or the back, or whatever, because we’re trying to say it only matters in so far as like, our marketing or whatever, or like their personal brand, it doesn't matter as to like, how you feel about yourself, or what the experience feels like. MEGAN: ?? 13:48> experiences are most nearly the same. It's like everyone gets equally nervous before races. Like everyone struggles to sleep the night of races, like everyone has these like major, like existential crises of self. And it's like we all go through the same things, whether you're like the very front of the race or the back of the race. And like, honestly, the goal setting is pretty similar too. So, I think as coaches that has been really interesting, and as coaches, we actually really prioritize taking on a diverse group of athletes. So, we coach some very top athletes then we coach athletes too who are just starting out in the sport. And I feel like we learn equally from all those athletes, and that's been a fun process for us. JESSE: So, I think that kind of-- it almost begs the question that yeah, I think it makes perfect sense that we all kind of go through similar struggles and at times I think the-- I'll say the elite runners often get almost shrouded in mystique where like they're superhumans, and they can do things that the rest of us can't. But I think you guys know even though you're obviously ascribing a different message and trying to promote a different message that often culturally, we focus on the winners. Those are the people that are important to pay attention to. Why do you think we focus on those winners as a culture? DAVID: Oh, I mean, that's just-- It's all about the stories that are being told. And so the winners or whatever, I mean, there is that competitive aspect where it's like sports games you or basketball or whatever you're playing to see who scores the most points. Obviously, the Bucks, the Milwaukee Bucks, it is a meaningless definition. Why Milwaukee, why the Bucks, you know what I mean? But it's the story that's fun to follow fun to root for interesting, and I think running’s the same way. It's interesting, it's fun to the people that are following it. It gives these narratives that add meaning to their lives and they’re choosing to follow. And so it's like a fan thing. But I think what we saw pretty early on is like, we're fortunate to see the lives of some of these people shrouded in mystique behind the scenes and they're going through everything you can imagine in that fan hood or that support they have really doesn't add anything like unless it's true and personal. Like it just adds pressure. It doesn't necessarily add joy and meaning and self-love. And so that's why we're just focusing on self-love and so those stories from the front of the pack, I think they're awesome because it is like it's fun. It's really fun to follow. I'm a fan of Claire Gallagher for the same reason that I like watching basketball. But I think when you're talking about the individual person, whether it's ?? 16:35> or Claire, it's like, their happiness in the Bucks or Claire's performance, like whatever, you know. So, that's kind of ?? 16:43>. MEGAN: I think my impression too is that trail running is kind of bucking that tide a little bit. So, I think in trail running it's still a pretty small ?? 16:51> sport in terms of like NBA Basketball, like no one's on a million-dollar contract in trail running ?? 16:55>. And I think as a result like it is more story-centric and I think it's more story-centric across the board. And I think that people who are creative, people who are engaging, people who are involved in the community have these amazing voices that add to it. And we've seen-- I've worked with some, like diverse runners who have really, like brought in the diversity into the community and made that a story, and it's a beautiful thing. And so I think that's the power of trail running. And I think like inherent in that is just the fact that we're all like trudging through the woods and mountains and it's like, it's hard to take yourself seriously when you're doing that in the process. Go to Part 3 Go to Part 1

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