Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 6 - Chris Douglas - PRIORITIZE YOUR LIFE - Part 2 of 3

So one of the things like I'm always interested in and I spoke to a gentleman named Dr. Jason Karp, he's like, I’ll call him a running expert. He's written a bunch of books on running and as a running certification he does and all those kinds of thing. And I talked to him about his book, The Inner Runner.

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JESSE: So one of the things like I'm always interested in and I spoke to a gentleman named Dr. Jason Karp, he's like, I’ll call him a running expert. He's written a bunch of books on running and as a running certification he does and all those kinds of thing. And I talked to him about his book, The Inner Runner. And it talks a lot about kind of the mental aspect of running and pushing your limits, learning about life and that kind of stuff. So, I actually want to go back a couple years. I think this is a story that should be told or I kind of want to hear from you. I think it's the Music City Triathlon in Nashville. CHRIS: Oh, geez. JESSE: You know what I'm talking about? So, can you take us through that story? Take us through that race as much as you recall. CHRIS: Okay. So, that was a case where -- So, I guess, I wanted to go to that race because I knew the guy who was going to win if I wasn't there, and he ended winning it, spoilers. But I knew -- Tony White is his name. I'm not sure if -- I don't think he's a pro triathlete anymore. I think he's doing a bunch of trail runs now. But at the time, he was kind of one of the faster pros in the southeast region. And so I wanted to go there to test myself against him. And so going in, you know, the whole week leading up, I was just kind of comparing myself to hurt like I've never hurt before. And, you know, just basically never let him go. And then on race day, we got our numbers, and it was a time trial start. And so I knew he started about a minute in front of me. So, at that point, I just said, okay, you know what, whatever you do, you're going to catch him, and then you're just not going to let him go because all you have to do is finish next to him. And so he out swam me by a good bit, but I almost caught him on the bike and we basically came out of T2 together, and that just kind of set the stage. Well, I guess, I was working so hard on the bike, I probably wasn't drinking as much as I should. And we came out of T2 together and it was hot. I mean, I think the actual temperature was like, probably in the mid-90s. But it was just black pavement, black exposed pavement the whole run. And I don't know, we were just hurting each other, like every now and then we just put in the surge just because we went out at like 530, even though neither of us could hold it. And, you know, it was just a battle of wills. And then right before the last turnaround, so about a mile and a half to go or whatever, he stopped and got a nice rag and some water. And I was like, I finally dropped him. I got this and so I was just running by myself. And I think not having him next to me, pushing me right there, but having you behind me, I just kind of thought the battle was won. And I kind of I don't know, I had done myself over way before then I guess. But my body at that point realized what a state it was in and I ended up just kind of passing out. It was really strange. I remember I was kind of just running and I was like, man, I don't really feel well, I think I'll slow down a little bit. Slowed down a little bit and then walked. And then next thing I knew I was on the ground. I remember someone coming up to me who was running the other direction. And like pushing me around. And like, I think someone carried me from where I was in the middle of the road to the shade of a telephone pole, which was cast in the middle of the road, which was like the only state around, which is actually super helpful. And then I was just so thirsty. And I waited and waited and the gater finally came to take me to the medical tent. Then they didn't have any water with them and I was kind of in and out of consciousness and it was actually a really scary experience because I had never felt that thirsty. And like I’d never like lost consciousness or anything like that. So, I was kind of in and out -- I don't know, I remember vividly thinking that I was going to die because I just wasn't in the state of mind. I wasn't in like a logical state of mind, I guess. And, you know, right after that whole, like, you know, I got to the medical tent and got an IV and I was fine, obviously. But right after that experience, you know, some people were -- a lot of my friends were telling me oh, you know, that's amazing you were able to push that much and mad respect and all that. And the one person who I think didn't say that was Rich Viola, who's the CEO of Every Man Jack. And I think his opinion stood out the most to me and was the thing I took away most from that was, you know, why would I do that? Like, how did I not know my body not well enough to know that I was about to pass out. And like, I felt like I was gonna die. Why was it worth it to me to push so hard that I might feel like I was dying, or, you know, maybe I could, if there hadn't been a gater or someone to take me there, there was not an aid station there or anyone to take me around, I very well could have had heat exhaustion or something bad could happen. And so that, I guess that was kind of the real thing I took away from that was not like, man, I know how to push myself. But man, I need to know when not to push myself. It was great to know that I would like -- I'd always, you know, read stories and like, you know, every time there's a big international marathon, there's always a video that comes out of someone crawling across the finish line. And I always thought, you know, man, I wish I had the guts to go out and race my heart out like that and, you know, just make it across the line. And this case, I made it a quarter mile from the finish line and didn't probably the finish line. I think I learned a lot more from that than I would have from winning the race. And man, yeah, it was just scary and harrowing experience, one that I will not forget. JESSE: You know, I think it's kind of like, interesting that you came away from it, it sounds like especially with Rich’s help there like thinking about that wasn’t really a positive thing. Because I almost feel like there's this, just like you said, you know, watching those videos and photos of people crawling across the finish line be like, you know, they're really getting out to the end. And just, there's this almost like mythos of you know, like heroism to be able to push yourself that far. And you know, I've actually had-- I didn't pass out but I had a kind of similar experience, 70.3 Santa Cruz, where the last five miles, like I was feeling great for most of the run. By about a mile eight, I was starting to feel a little off. And basically, I didn't get enough food. The short version is that my day almost didn't get started because of a bike wheel that was flat. I got to spare from a bike tech and got to the race but I didn't have my nutrition setup. So, I ran the last five miles with like tunnel vision, like literally black coming in on my ?? 7:27>. And there was like 50-60 year old guys passing me, you know, near the end, which not to disparage 50-60 year old guys, but really shouldn't be being passed. And, you know, at the time, because my priority was so focused on like, pushing as hard as I actually could, I came away with it from like, almost a positive experience of you know, that's-- I'm glad to know that I am committed enough to push that hard. But having kind of the ability to step back when you shift priorities kind of like you have with you know, knowing that, like your PhD is more important to you. You're like that is some dumb shit. Like, why? It's just a race like, what does it even matter? So, it's always this kind of interesting dichotomy where it's like, you want to know that you can push yourself but at the same time, it's like, man, it's just a race. Even if you win it, is it really going to matter? You know, if you died like -- CHRIS: Right. Yeah, you got a family who loves you and friends that love you and no one's going to care if you get second place, you know. No one cares if you get first place honestly, like, if you're doing it for you. JESSE: Yeah, that's like, I don’t know, the kind of crazy thing is like, I mean, you understand, especially being around all the EMJ guys because they're all, you know, very competitive and talented enough to win. So, it's like, all of this drive to win, but then it's like, we're trying to win something that we've made up. You know, because the sport it's not a thing in and of itself, like triathlon isn't. It only exists because we made it a thing. It's like, we're trying to win this thing that we made, and like, what does it even matter? Which gets a little esoteric, which I’m prone to do, but I don't know. It kind of takes time to step back sometimes when that kind of stuff goes on. So, I saw your post about that, you know, race from a couple years ago. So, I was really curious about what happened and what you took away from it. CHRIS: Yeah. I think that was not what I was expecting to take away from it when I got to the car go home. But talking to Rich after that was when I was like, wow, that was a different insight. And it just totally changed the way I looked at it. JESSE: Does that play in to your decision to focus more on your PhD? CHRIS: It didn't directly but it might have. You know, I'm doing this because I enjoy doing this. It's fun. Like, if I stopped having fun, I would stop doing it because, you know, there's no money in this for me, it's only for fun. And if you're almost -- like having a race like that once, if I had, you know, maybe finished but not quite had such a harrowing experience, maybe I would have thought that was cool. But like, it hurt a lot like I would not want to do that on a weekly basis. So yeah, like, even if I hadn't had that insight, it's great when you go out there and you have a race where you're just like, feel like it's, you know, you're pushing yourself. But you're like, this feels effortless. Like I'm just going so fast, this feels so smooth. You know, that's the like, race feeling that I want. Not the like, you know, I'm suffering so much, you know, am I going to make it to the finish line. That's not a fun race for me. JESSE: Yeah, is from the outside like I almost get maybe I assume you probably had a similar experience where people almost look at us like masochists. Like, you must be suffering so much. It's like, well, obviously, we go through some amount of suffering but like you said, I don't know anybody's like looking to suffer like they're looking for that day where it feels effortless. CHRIS: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I hate when people talk about or I shouldn't say hate, that's a strong word. And I don't hate anyone who would say that. I just feel like that's dishonest. You don't know why you're like inflicting this torture on yourself for people who say those things. Like, if I'm being honest, I want to be an ambassador for the sport, the sports brought me a lot of joy. And I don't want to like tell everyone, like a lot of people have no history of running, swimming or biking and are going to come, you know, you're going to see your Facebook post where you're like, you know, that sucked. I hurt so much. Why do I do this, it's torture myself? At least I got this gold medal. And then, you know, like, yeah, that's good for him. It doesn't sound fun for me. But it's like, no, you know, I have a lot of fun doing this. I'm like, challenging myself in a way that I feel comfortable and I get to decide how uncomfortable I get on a given day. There's not like any kind of masochism, or kind of anything ulterior like that, I guess. Unless I mean, for me, I guess. JESSE: There might be someone out there. CHRIS: I'm sure there's somebody but you know, just as a general consensus, it's like -- JESSE: No one that I feel like I've connected with has genuinely made me feel like they enjoy suffering. CHRIS: Right. JESSE: It's kind of similar but I feel like, not only is it a process to kind of -- like self-betterment, which I think there's almost like a genetic component, to like some people are more predisposed to want to, like, better themselves. You know, I used to ask the question of like, why isn't that guy as motivated as I am? I kind of feel like there's some kind of predisposition there. But as far as like suffering goes, I kind of have a-- Since you've been around the EMJ guys all see, I'm curious what your opinion is. I have this theory that’s almost like people that have had a history of suffering, almost have an easier time like using triathlon or running as an outlet. So, say somebody who was abused as a kid or like -- Lino Sanders kind of backs this up for me a little bit... background. CHRIS: ...saying that. JESSE: Yeah, so it's like he went through hell and then like, he just -- at least the mythos of Lino Sanders, I've never talked to him, you know, puts himself through a lot of suffering to be very, very successful. So, you know, have you talked to the EMJ guys and other you know, other guys, do you think there's any credence to my theory? CHRIS: I can't say -- I wouldn't say that any of my experiences with anyone on the team would validate that theory. But I wouldn’t say that there's like a clear like, anti-disagreement. I don't -- Lino’s an interesting case and again, I don't know, I'm either. But, you know, based on the image that he's put out of himself or that I've inferred from the image that he's put up for himself, I get the idea that, you know, he switched from one addictive thing and a negative addictive subtype of obsession to a different obsession. And, you know, again, my impression is that, you know, he just has a personality that is obsessive, and you could do is a negative way, and he figured out how to use it in a positive way. And so I say good for him. And I think a lot of people on the EMJ probably have, you know, different obsessions, but I haven't noticed anything like that in that sample. JESSE: Yeah, I’m just curious. It's like -- CHRIS: No, no. It sounds it sounds legit. JESSE: Yeah. Well, there's a lot of pseudoscience that could sound legit. I'm always just curious about like, so one of my undergraduate degrees in psychology. So like, I'm always very, like, I told you my other degree is in math. So, you know, people are always like, what the hell is that combination, but just personal interest. But anyway, so I'm very, like, interested in motivation, like, where does motivation come from? How do people get motivated? Like, how did we even get to this point where we're working out 15, 16, 17 hours a week and enjoying it, like -- CHRIS: I hope it's because you're enjoying it like I think that’s - motivation. JESSE: Right. I mean I enjoy training more than racing. CHRIS: ?? 16:24> comment about a lot of the EMJ guys, a lot of them had some kind of athletic background growing up, where they learned to enjoy being outside exercising, whatever. And they kind of carried that through and found a way to continue it into triathlon, whether or not that was, you know, their initial sport or related to their initial sport. It's just kind of to like exercising. JESSE: Yeah, yeah, I was like, basically like one of my best friends who I met through triathlon, his name is Kevin. He wanted to be a professional soccer player and he played in some of the minor leagues. USL I think he's the league he played in and couldn't quite make it to MLS play. So, like he transferred over to triathlon to continue that like competitive outdoor, you know, thing going on. So, he kind of has that gene didn't have the running background like I've been running since I was 12. So, it's kind of a natural progression for me to get rid of the injury prone atmospheres - college and move on to something - I'm not entered quite so often. But yeah. Go to Part 1 Go to Part 3

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