Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 4 - Dr. Jason Karp - DO THE WORK - Part 2 of 3

I'm not particularly religious, but the way you're talking about it reminds me of this Buddhist lecture I heard once that describes, life almost says a river. ike, I use this analogy all the time, it's you know, you have a destination, you're here A, and you want to go to B, and sometimes the river winds and it sends you in a direction, you don't intend that you're going.

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JESSE: I'm not particularly religious, but the way you're talking about it reminds me of this Buddhist lecture I heard once that describes, life almost says a river. ike, I use this analogy all the time, it's you know, you have a destination, you're here A, and you want to go to B, and sometimes the river winds and it sends you in a direction, you don't intend that you're going. But all you have to do is keep paddling and like trust that the river will get you, you know, to where you're going. JASON: I agree, that’s a great analogy. And maybe that's my personality too that I'm not very task-oriented person. I ask myself, hey, okay, what do I need to do today to move my needle forward? What do I need to do or what tasks do I have to accomplish? And then before you know it, that one day is 100 days, and then 100 days, and then you've accomplished something. And the days is 3,000 days. You just got to take it one day at a time because you can't control tomorrow, when you're when you're on today. ?? 0:58> today, you know you can show me your behavior today and so that helps with all the rejection and the failure and thinking negatively. That helps a lot with that, it just keep focused on what needs to be done every single day to help you reach where you want to reach. JESSE: Well, I mean, it makes sense that you'd be pre-task oriented. Like I don't think you finish eight books, if you're not very like, this is what needs to be done today. So, I think your kind of track record speaks for itself in that case. So, you know, I know you advocate running, so say somebody doesn't like running, I think we're kind of on the same page. Like if you don't like running, that's fine, don't make yourself run if you don't run, they don't like to run. But like, say somebody can't or doesn't like to run, what would be another like one or two sports suggestions or activities you think would be also like high calorie burning, that would be anywhere close to what running is a suggestion. JASON: I give this suggestion - because even though I love running, you love running, I know that there are a lot of people who just don't like it. And it's kind of s - thing. People either love it, I mean, really love it, or people just they don't want to have anything to do with it. But the trick is to find something that you love to do, it doesn't necessarily have to be running. Running just happens to be a very good calorie burner. Find something you love to do. If you love to swim and swim if you love to ride your bike out in the countryside, then ride your bike out in the countryside. But find something that fulfills you and then do that every day for the rest of your life. I mean, there are plenty of people who have lost weight not running so there are other activities that people can do, of course. It just so happens that running burns a lot of calories. But to give a recommendation, you know, you can do bicep curls all day long, but that's not going to help you lose weight because the biceps is a pretty small muscle. And so it doesn't burn a lot of calories when you're using it. So, you have to use a lot of muscle. So, that's why I like swimming and even cycling, it's not that great unless you do it for very long periods of time because you’re sitting - it's mostly quad dominant activity. And so you want to do something that's total body weight, that's preferably weight bearing because those are the kinds of activities like circuit training where you might mix some cardio type activities with strength training, whole body strength training. Like I know people...burpees, you know you can do something like burpees, or ?? 3:23> or something that gets your whole body involved...workouts, those are the kinds of exercises that burn more calories. You know, just taking a resistance band to do bicep curls isn't going to be that effective. JESSE: Yeah. This is kind of a shot in the dark, are you familiar with Ido Portal, and he has like -- so he's this, I'll think of it as a -- but he’s like, almost like a guru style person. But he's like, has this whole movement of like just like get up and move where he doesn't have like a fitness regimen, so to speak. And he's not selling anything, but he has like a - like following where he just gets up and just does -- he could be doing like, he could be running one day or he could be, you know, an outdoor gym another day, I you might want to check him out, Ido and Portal like portal. He's a pretty interesting guy who’s just like, his fitness regimen changes constantly. So, it's kind of interesting, I'm not sure what his calorie burning is. But he might be interesting for you to talk to you or connect with at some point. JASON: - I’ll check him out. JESSE: So, I want to get into the meat and potatoes a little bit here. Because this is, so you wrote the book, The Inner Runner. And this is something I don't think is talked about enough. Like in the fitness industry, we talked about, you know, this is how you burn calories. And this is how you lose weight. And these are the kind of foods you need to get these macros and these nutrients. And in all the kind of, I'll say quantifiable things that are much easier to kind of study in a lab. But we don't talk as much about like the mind, body connection and kind of what goes on behind the scenes up here that gets us actually out and going. So, I’m really glad you actually wrote the book. Unfortunately, we made this interview so quickly, I did have a time to read it so I'm going to. But I want to ask you the vague question, which I told you before, it's not super serious, but is running a religion? And you know, there's so many people that kind of follow it in like almost like - status. So, I do want to get your thoughts on is running a religion? JASON: It can be viewed as such. I mean, some people view not so much the running per se, but what they get out of it, is their a higher power, their search for meaning the way people search for meaning for a God or some other higher power. So, in that sense? Yeah, I mean, I don't think people pray to running the way they pray to God. But yes, some people they do view running as their higher meaning and what they get out of it. JESSE: So, I kind of want to -- I'm kind of interested in you personally. I mean, I love - myself so I know when I've gotten out of running, but I mean, you've been running since you're 11-12, somewhere around there. So like, over the years, can you talk about a little bit like what have you discovered about yourself, what have you found through running, that's not necessarily running related, I guess? JASON: Well, a lot of things. I mean, one of the major things I talk about in the book is this ability to deal with discomfort and what it teaches you about yourself and about life. Because like every time you do an interval workout, and I just did an interval workout yesterday on the track, actually. And every time I do an interval workout, every time I run a race, you know, before you even start, it's going to be physically uncomfortable. I mean, running as fast as you can, it is uncomfortable. But in that moment is a chance to learn about who you are and reach who you want to be. You know, I always talk about how running helps you to narrow the gap between who you are who you want to be. And it's a very decisive moment. When you're in a middle of a race, and it's physically uncomfortable, what do you do? Do you back off on that discomfort to make it a little easier or do you push through that to find out what's on the other side? And that's a life lesson because life is uncomfortable. You know, people will die in your life, chances are, you're going to have some sickness, as you get to the end of your life. If you have children and your children are hurting, that hurts you as a parent, and there are going to be tragedies that you're going to have to deal with throughout life, and the strength that you acquire through running and remembering those moments of what did you do when you got physically uncomfortable in the race? How did you approach that, that can help you deal with discomfort in every other area of your life, get the strength from running, and take that to these other areas of life. So, that's one big thing that running has taught me. I've lost both of my parents, I've lost my father, before I became a runner, I was only eight years old when my father passed away. I lost my mother in 2010, when I was 37. And toward the end of her life, you know, she spent the last two weeks of her life in the hospital in New Jersey and I flew back home to see her and every morning before I went to go see her in the hospital, I went for a run, because I knew that that was my way to steal myself and to strengthen myself so that I could be strong for my mother because she was ?? 8:35>. And I think about that a lot, you know, my mother had breast cancer that spread to her bone and so she was in a lot of pain toward the end of her life. And I keep thinking if my mother could deal with the pain of bone cancer, certainly I can deal with the pain of running a race. And that's - compared to what she was having to go through. So, I think about these things. You know, when I'm in a race, I think about what my mother went through and that helps me to push just a little bit harder because, you know, it’s much less pain than having to go through what she went through. And so that's one big thing I think running has taught me and teaches a lot of other people of how to deal with that discomfort and how to push through that. JESSE: To me, it's almost like an emotional resilience where you know, it's going to hurt, like you said, I guess I think of -- Personally, I think of running in the best runners is people that are forgetful because they forget how much it hurt last time so that they're prepared to make it hurt just as hard or more this time. JASON: Yeah, I agree. JESSE: So, I'm kind of curious if -- I have a theory, I guess that the best runners are not necessarily running away from something but there's -- I think a little bit of fear, or maybe a little bit of self loathing that already gives them that emotional resilience, that ability to tolerate pain because it already exists within them. And again, this is a theory, I don’t have it tested on anything. But it seems like there's so many stories of people that come from a you know, background where they grew up with nothing and running was their outlet. And it's like they already had this very difficult life. And it kind of enabled them to run harder than anybody else. Have you encountered anybody like that. Do you see any kind of pattern like that or do you think I'm just out like - in the wind? JASON: Oh, no. I think that's true for a lot of people. I mean, it wasn't true for me, but I started as a kid running track, and I was drawn for it. But I think that's why it's a common reason for people to seek out running when they have some tragedy. You hear this all the time that people get divorced, and how do they deal with that divorce? They go run. And a lot of people do that with a midlife crisis as well. I mean, they want to run a marathon to cure their midlife crisis. And I think that, that reason for running is very common that people have this. Either tragedy or like you said, they grow up with this very difficult life and running is their outlet to find themselves amidst all this tragedy and pain they're going through. They seek out running as a way to literally be free from all of that. And you know, one example I think off the top of my head, I had the chance to meet the Jerry Lindgren in Hawaii when I was there to teach my certification course. And for your audience who doesn't know, you know, Jerry Lindgren was a phenomenal runner back in the 1960s, he was the best High School run in the country and - phenomenal. And he was like that, he had a decent parents, he told me the story, I went for a run with him and he would tell me the story about he had you know, abusive father and a mother who pretty much condoned it and and he just walked out the door to go run to escape what was going on at home. I mean, he ended up becoming this amazing runner. But you know, and he was a scrawny kid he got picked on, he still looks kind of scrawny now, he's, you know, ?? 12:11> And if you look at him he's his frail little guy. He was like that as a kid, too. So, you know, he, he had that hard life for the hour, he didn't like what was going on at home, and it he wasn't a comfortable place for him to be. And he just left his house to go run, and made him a star. But you know, a lot of people have that same situation where they use running as an escape from the rest of their lives. Because the only time that you can be alone in your head, you know, and feel free, running is very freeing. It's who we are as animals. When animals run, they're free. They're free from captivity. And so I think that's why running gets to the primal source of who we are. There's a lot of connection between humanity and running and love. Those things come from the same source. JESSE: Yeah, and that's why I'm sure you've read Born to Run because almost everybody has read it. I feel like that was the part that, you know, there's a whole cultural movement, and they got stuck on running barefoot when I feel like they missed the part about that book where it was like, no, like, look at the title like, it's this genetic predisposition like, this is who we are as animals where we're born to run. Forget about the barefoot part, like focus on the realization that, you know, you're born to move like that. JASON: ?? 13:37> when I teach my courses that, that people seem to forget that running is who we are as animals, all mammals run. I mean, that's -- we evolved. There’s with a lot of research looking on the evolution of human beings. And why we are built the way we are, why we have this arch on the foot, why our lungs have this enormous surface area with a very thin wall to help with the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen. Why we - 60,000 miles worth of capillaries to confuse our muscle fibers. And our body is the way it is because we evolved to run especially long distances. Humans are, are the best long distance running animals. We can outrun other animals to death, they can sprint us, but we can run them to death. JESSE: Right. SO, this is something I kind of think about it from time to time. I don't know that I necessarily have an answer so I apologize. I don't have an answer, I'm going to ask you anyway. Do you know why you run? Not necessarily in the sense that, oh, it's just habit. But like, is there a fundamental reason that you get up, I'll say every day, but you know what I mean, whatever your schedule is, is there is a deep seated reason that you actually get up and get out the door and run? JASON: Yeah, that's a good question. I try to answer that a little bit in the book. And I think at this point in my life, I think I don't question anymore. It's so much a part of who I am and it's so ingrained into who I am, and it's also my career. But growing up the reason I think I was just drawn to it is because of this primal feeling that all of this -- also played a lot of baseball when I was a kid. And even though I'm a fan of other sports and enjoy playing them, nothing seems to get at who we are as animals the way running does. And I think that's why I enjoy it so much that this freedom of just putting one leg in front of the other, and it's all about you, and how it feels, especially when you run fast. You know, like, I've always been enamored with pure speed and I just I love to run very fast because it just feels good. And it feels like me being an animal, let it be let out of this cage. And just I can't imagine my life without that feeling. That fluidity of movement, which, by the way gets hard feel when you get older. I mean, I don’t feel it ?? 16:02> when I was younger and I was faster, but still there's there's nothing I've ever found that replaces that fluidity of movement and what it feels like when you're fit and fast. That feels good. And if you talk about running as an addiction, you do get addicted to it. It's, you know, it is kind of like a drug. And it is the best way to get fit. If people are really interested in getting fit and getting fit as fast as possible, an interval running workout beats everything else. There's nothing else that can -- when you ask any coach of any sport, what do you do to get your athletes fit? You have them running interval workout. The best way to get -- so you get addicted to that fitness. And yeah, it's an addiction at this point. JESSE: I think I could, you know, ?? 16:52> sympathize - very easy conversation because we agree at so many points. I know, like early on when I was running in high school, and I don't know whether my teammates experienced this. And maybe they didn't. And that's why they stopped running. And I continue. But sometimes it would almost feel like my mind would kind of melt away and I would just become motion like, why not running? It's not a magical, like it happens every time for me, but it would be a matter of just conscious thoughts aren't there anymore. Like I'm rhythm, my motion in a very pure sense. And I think I became a little bit addicted to that, among other things. So, I hope, you've probably experienced that at some point or another. JASON: Of course ?? 17:37> Runners High, and there is a physiology behind that, there's a release of I mean, people think it's endorphins. But it's actually opioids and cannabinoids. And so it is a little bit like getting a shot of morphine and so there is this biochemical part of it, which you don't get another activity. No one's ever heard of the way lifters high. You know, it seems to be something that is specific to running...runners have heard of this runner's high, it's become a term in our language. And so yeah, there is biochemistry behind it too. And that probably also, you know, is what causes the sign of this addiction or addictive nature of running is this runner's high and how you do feel like your on a subconscious level and thoughts can come to you, I mean lots of thoughts come to me when I'm running, that don't come to me the rest of the day, and it's just interesting. Like, you know, a lot of that book, The Inner Runner, I kind of wrote it in my head. And then when I got home after my run, I would make sure I wrote things down so I didn't forget it...think about these things when you're running. But for some reason, the thoughts don't come as easily the rest of the day. JESSE: So, I'm kind of curious if you -- this is another thing I'm hoping you've experienced is like, what are you getting ready to taper, you know, and I think about this because of the almost addictive nature of running, and the actual, you know, dopamine that you're getting, when you're tapering, you don't get that as much. Do you ever get -- sometimes it's anger, sometimes there's anxiety, do you ever get that when you taper and like, how do you cope with that, if that happens to you? JASON: I think for me, it might be different than others because I know the science behind it. And so I know what I need to do to run the best I can on the day that accounts. For other people, you know, they may have more anxiety about it, because even though people you know, they know in theory that they should taper but they may not know the specific reasons of what's going on inside of their body when they're tapering, and why it's so good for them. And so that may cause them more anxiety, but for me, I've never had that problem only because I guess that's the scientist in me that I know the reason. So, I know it's going to help me and that relieves all the anxiety. I know it's what I'm supposed to be doing. JESSE: So your secrets, almost like knowledge is power. Like once you understand what's going on. JASON: I've always thought that, I mean that's why I went to 13 years of college to become that I've always believed that knowledge is power. Yeah, even as a kid. And so I wanted to make myself as knowledgeable as possible so I could be more powerful. JESSE: Fair enough. Go to Part 3 Go to Part 1

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