Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 167 – Jason Hardrath

[00:00:00] What I’ve discovered. And, you know, people ask like, “How do you get through the hard moments out there? When it’s, you know, zero degrees and you’re hungry and you’re nauseous and you haven’t slept.” It’s like, well, it’s not that that’s the opposite of a good moment for me. The opposite of happiness and the opposite of joy and like the good for me is the hollow nothing. The apathy, the like that that’s the terrible thing to be avoided. So when I’m experiencing extreme pain, extreme fatigue, sleepiness, cramping, maybe I take a spill and now my arm and shoulder are hurting like I’m having a real raw, extreme, vivid human experience. That’s the spectrum of human emotion that we’re able to experience.

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Jesse: [00:01:42] Welcome to the Smart Athlete Podcast. I’m your host Jesse Funk. My guest today is hard to describe, but in many ways he described his own succinct story, which we’re going to try to unpack in the next 45 minutes to an hour. So you’re going to want to stay with this because I’m sure we have a lot to talk about. The way he describes this story is a kid who had ADHD, who began chasing his dreams anywhere from the mile all the way through Ironman distance.

[00:02:16] At some point in his life, there was a car accident, which I’m sure we’re going to talk about, which pushed him towards the mountains, trails, and getting away from some of those other kind of on road events, which led him to the journey of trying to be the first person to have 100 FKTs or fastest times if you’re not in the know how that lingo. Currently, he’s a sponsored athlete with Athletic Brewing. Welcome to the show, Jason Hardrath.

Jason: [00:02:48] It is a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me, Jesse. Yeah, I’m excited. I mean, I guess my only addition on top of that is that I’m not just an athlete. I’m a schoolteacher as well. I’m going to going to go pick up my sixth graders as soon as we hang up the podcasts here and hopefully impart some belief and some wisdom and some hope and some dreams in their lives. And, you know, rotate through the I’m an elementary PE teacher, so I rotate through grades, kindergarten through sixth grade.

[00:03:19] And that’s really one of the things that fuels my adventures is it gives me permission to tell these kids like, “Hey, I’m just some kid from some small town and I’m out doing really, really rad stuff. And if I can do it, you can do it.” And it makes that authentic instead of me just telling them to run while I sit on a golf cart with a big goal, you know? So. Yeah, no, it’s. I’m kind of happy with how life has aligned in that regard.

Jesse: [00:03:51] Well, and that’s I mean, that’s part of the reason that you are here on this particular show. I like to talk to people that have some kind of career and are also athletes. On a very rare occasion, we’ll get somebody who’s, I’ll say just an athlete not to be like derogative because it doesn’t happen very often. It’s somebody just an athlete, but usually it’s people that have some kind of thing going on and then also spend their life pursuing an athletic endeavor in some way.

[00:04:27] Obviously, for you, that was the 100 FKT journey. And then the things that you’re doing now, which we’ll get into. We were talking about pre roll, but thinking about trying to inspire kids. One of the things I think is interesting in like watching, watching the movie and learning about you reminds myself, even like I think many of us get in this place of like. Just do the thing, the 9 to 5 job. Just get up in the morning, go to work, come home, have your meal, go to sleep, rinse and repeat.

[00:05:13] But I think you probably as a person, but definitely your journey really poses the question that needs to be asked. And that’s why. Why does it just have to be that? And like, what does it mean to actually live? If you allow me to be a little esoteric, I guess.

Jason: [00:05:37] Oh, you’re absolutely welcome to be a little esoteric. I actually think I think this is. And I don’t just think this people smarter than me think this. It’s not just like an individual level problem. I think it’s a societal level problem. We’ve broken down like actual I’ll use the term roles in society where people feel a purpose, people feel a contribution, they feel a sense of identity with what they’re doing. They see the value and the contribution they’re bringing to other people.

[00:06:11] And we’ve like progressively over the years. Yeah. With sort of industrialization like broken down roles to where a person is doing a meaningless task repetitively and, and like with, with population growth and all that, it’s like there’s a lot of different things that people end up doing as jobs. And it’s just a job, not a role, not a not a meaningful contribution that leaves them feeling kind of like hollow and empty.

[00:06:39] And I think that that that type of thinking has also led across to sort of how we go about doing a lot of things. And so instead of sort of being like, well, what is the real reason I’m doing this and what is the good like what’s the maximum good I can do for my community if I am doing this? It’s kind of like, “Oh, cool, I did the thing and now I’m done.” Check it off the list.

[00:07:07] And then it’s like, you know, it’s like even athletes, you know, people go out to do these big athletic endeavors oftentimes, like they don’t know how to reintegrate with their normal life. They don’t know, like, well, this was big and really meaningful to me, but what do I take away from it? What am I supposed to do now? How does this continue to be? Is it just a hollow, empty thing I did for myself, or does it have some value to the people around me? And how do I translate that value across?

[00:07:38] And, you know, to me it’s like. People might think when I say I’m a teacher, I just mean that it’s the job at a school and it’s like, “No, no, no,” I know that I’m wired. I’m wired to be a sage, a mentor, a person that accumulates knowledge and passes it on to anyone I meet in any way I can. Like, the whole reason I take on these adventures is that I come away from these grand epics with more knowledge and a roadmap of how especially an ADHD person that can’t ever just really sit still and shut up and be successful in that regard.

[00:08:18] A roadmap for them to live a successful and happy adult life and not have to self-medicate themselves into stasis. And I think I think that’s like the bigger role of being something to the people around you as opposed to just, “Well, this is what I get paid for.” And I think we need to reconnect with that more on a cultural scale, because it is problematic when people feel no sense of meaning, like it’s very problematic.

[00:08:53] That’s a lot of mental health issues come out of that. A lot of, like I said, self-medication issues come out of that with alcohol and other drugs. Yeah, no, I think I think there’s there’s a really big picture answer there. And then also like on the individual level, like obviously for myself, I can see 1000 different versions of Jason Hardrath. That could have been way worse than the version that exists right now out doing things that make him feel alive, having positive things to teach kids and to tell to other adults, and hopefully inspiring some people to take on bigger projects themselves and believe in what’s possible. Definitely. Definitely could have gone a different way.

Jesse: [00:09:45] You know you’re talking about. Like a lack of a sense of meaning. Part of that, I think, is like a lack of sense of community. Some of that I think I’ll speak to the US or North American problem because globally communities differ. Some communities have more, more tight knit areas and things. So as I see it, I guess.

Jason: [00:10:09] Absolutely, yeah. I’m speaking from the framework of being an American in the United States my whole life as well.

Jesse: [00:10:15] Right. So I think part of our issue is infrastructure. Like we’re siloed away into suburbs that aren’t really designed for communal gathering. It’s like you go to your house and you stay in your house and like, you don’t. I am fortunate to live in one of the few suburbs in Kansas City that actually has like a little shop area. And now I say fortunate because this is a fairly affluent area. Most people can’t afford to live here in the city. It butts up. I don’t live in the very, very expensive part of it, but it butts up to some of the most expensive houses in town.

[00:10:55] And so you think about like the distribution of the population, just this town. There’s about 2 million, some, give or take, residents in the greater Kansas City area. And you’re only talking about in the tens of thousands in this area. So you have all these people spread out. Where like where’s the watering hole? Where do we come together? Historically, I think that’s churches. But that’s been a changing demographic, as James and I are the same age.

[00:11:28] And so as we’re getting older, some people are still attending. I have a friend here in town, still attends, but many people are not. And I know that it’s like that lack of meaning pops up. Even for people that have community. It’s like the people on this show. I was talking last week with Adi Nelson. She lives in Boulder. Huge sense of community for that kind of outdoor athletic lifestyle there. But even she was talking about this problem, I think plagues professional athletes in particular of collegiate athletes as well. And that’s what now.

[00:12:06] And so we’re like we were talking about planning the off-ramp basically before that hard stock comes in, you’re like athletic career’s over, so to speak. Obviously, you can always continue competing, but for pros, there’s a point where you’re not able to be a pro anymore. So like so if you’re interested in that conversation, go back to last week, check that out. But it — Turnabout being a societal issue. It’s like there’s so many barriers in the way. I mean, like, how do you overcome the infrastructure of the place in which you live? To make life more natural. For people to have a sense of community.

Jason: [00:12:51] Yeah. I mean, I certainly don’t have the answer. I mean, you start building places in different ways that didn’t.

Jesse: [00:12:57] C’mon Jason, we’re not going to fix all of the problems this morning.

Jason: [00:13:01] Let’s get it done.

Jesse: [00:13:03] What we’re here to do, man.

Jason: [00:13:05] But I mean, I do think, you know, people talk a lot about the goods and bads of social media and the Internet. I do think in a way that’s connecting communities. In some ways that never happened before. I mean, that’s obvious. It is, yeah. And I think that has its pros and cons.

[00:13:25] But I think also, you know, you talk about like the athlete building, building the off ramp. I think that’s true. Even with individual grand adventures and accomplishments like breakthrough accomplishments that feel subjectively, like, really, really meaningful to the athlete. I think. I think processing to me it kind of comes around to sort of, you know, I wouldn’t like, blow up like. You know, it’s like, “Oh, an athlete is a, you know, a hero that should be celebrated.”

[00:14:01] But it does fit the hero’s journey as far as how to navigate it to be meaningful and the hero’s journey in, at least from my observation and again, from a United States perspective, we’re very enamored with, “Oh, the badass slays the dragon.”

Jesse: [00:14:24] Right.

Jason: [00:14:24] It’s like that’s not the hero’s journey. The thing that makes it the hero’s journey is oftentimes the hero is reluctant to begin with, but sees the suffering of the village people. And the thing that’s causing the suffering is the dragon. And the dragon is also hoarding the gold, which is making the village poor. And so the hero reluctantly goes out, slays the dragon, becomes a better version of themselves in the process, and then brings the gold back to share with the village. That’s for eons. We’ve talked and known that that’s sort of the script the format that the hero’s journey follows —

Jesse: [00:15:07] Right. There’s the very like Joseph Campbell hero’s journey kind of thing.

Jason: [00:15:12] Bingo. There’s always a going out. A facing something that was previously thought. Maybe impossible or near impossible. And then I’m coming back. And it’s when you’re dealing with second order problems as teachers, we see this a lot where it’s like I mean, it’s like, “oh, a kid can’t know how to manage their anger.” If they’re in a family where the parents don’t know how to manage their anger, the only thing they ever see modeled is how to not manage your anger in a healthy way, how to not cope in a healthy way.

[00:15:49] And so it’s like you can’t hold that against them. So I think we kind of have some second order problems where we don’t intuitively have a common sense of this in our society anymore. And so I think it does give us a roadmap of like, okay, well, and some people might be like, well, what is the real value of an athlete? And it is what we do anything beyond like being self-serving and self-glorifying.

[00:16:18] And I think the only way you can answer that it isn’t just self-glorifying is if the person who’s doing whoever it is that’s pursuing the next big athletic endeavor or could be other things as well is circling back and giving back in some way, bringing what they learned, bringing whatever it is they gained. Maybe they did actually make money for what they did. In some pro sports, you can make a lot of money.

[00:16:48] Are they circling that back and contributing to people, whether they you see you see this automatically happen for a lot of like athletes who maybe they came from an impoverished community and they make it big in the Major League Soccer internationally. And then they come back and use the money they made to actually found a whole camp for soccer in their poor little community.

[00:17:11] And there’s all sorts of thousands of variations of this where these people circle back and give back. And I think I think, you know, we see that. On a sort of a macro scale where it’s like the a person sort of lives their life as an athlete, and then when they go to retire, they’ll circle back. But I think for having meaning in the moment, it’s also important to have sort of micro cycles of that where it’s like and I get to kind of experience this with the fact that I have school summers and other breaks, and then I come back to my students.

[00:17:46] And so it’s like I feel my teaching is refueled and re-energized when I come back from the Grand Adventures and as I exit the school year, I’m fueled to go push into that next big adventure because it’s like, “Oh, I just had all these awesome experiences with students and mentoring and helping, helping kids have breakthroughs.”

[00:18:06] And I’m energized to go refuel and get out and learn the next thing and have the next experience that serves as a lesson. And I think it helps navigate the sort of that. You know, we’ve been recently sort of reintroduced to the struggle of liminal space, like the space in between things and how dangerous that is for humans. When it’s like with COVID societal, it’s like, “Oh, it’s not how it used to be,” because we can’t just go out and behave how we used to behave.

[00:18:38] But it’s also not sure how we should behave yet. Like stuff keeps changing. And that was really hard on people. It’s like, “Oh, we’re going — We’re sending students back to school.” “No, keep them at home.”, “Oh, we’ll do a hybrid thing.”, “No, keep them at home.”, “Wear masks.”, “Don’t wear masks.” It was like constantly changing. And that was really hard psychologically on people.

[00:19:00] Well, the same is true when we don’t feel like we know what’s next. And so some athletes will just try to like immediately go to the very next. In my world, like it’s these big adventures we’ll just try to launch right into the next big adventure, even though their body or mind aren’t ready for it yet because they’re still exhausted from the previous thing.

[00:19:22] It’s like that’s not the answer. You can’t just constantly be out on an adventure. There are physical limits to that. It’s not a movie. It’s your real body. And so they’ll try that as a coping mechanism to sort of avoid the down of being in that liminal space. But I think if, you know, the whole reason you’re doing the big thing is to come back and contribute.

[00:19:47] Then the moment you finish, you already know, you already know what’s next. It’s like I’m processing this in a way I can contribute. And it really I really think it is an antidote to some of the post-race or post-adventure blues. I think any time you have a really heightened experience, the science Andrew Huberman talks about this. Any time you have elevated dopamine, you’re always going to have a bit of a low afterwards.

[00:20:14] But I think you can avoid the unsureness portion of it of wondering what’s next and what you’ll do and what whether it matters. Those questions can be answered if you know how you’re going to contribute to others after you do a big thing.

Jesse: [00:20:32] I think that’s a fair answer to that problem. Like, knowing that you’re going to like in your case, take your experiences and try to in some way impart the wisdom of the mountain, so to speak, to the kids you teach. One of the ways I found myself kind of coping with that situation, that like that space between where, you know, maybe unlike Adi, you did not build the off-ramp and you’re not sure what’s next is like just stepping back for a moment and thinking about, at least for me, like just thinking about yourself or myself in this case.

[00:21:20] And just go on like. I like lots of stuff. There’s always going to be something else. Like, why am I worried about whether there’s a next thing? Like. Of course there’s going to be a next thing as long as I’m alive. So it’s like once I sit back and I go. “Oh, like look at my own pattern of behavior over the years. I always find something else,” even if it’s like I just — you know, this isn’t to be derogatory towards this particular sport, but just anyway, even if I’m just like I want to be the best like ping pong player I could be, like most people wouldn’t necessarily consider it like a serious sport even though it is, which is why I use it as an example.

[00:22:10] But it’s a huge divergence from anything I’ve ever done before. And I think if for most people that are going to have these adventures or goals. Hit them and then go on to something else. I’m obviously making assumptions here, but I would assume most of them are probably similar to me, that they’ve had goals, they’ve reached them before and they’ve found other goals. So in some ways it’s almost just like recognizing yourself and being self-aware enough to go. There’s nothing to worry about. I have faith in my own ability to —

Jason: [00:22:52] Trusting in your own track record.

Jesse: [00:22:54] Yeah. Like recognizing my own willingness to try something new and then being like, it’s fine.

Jason: [00:23:02] I think there’s a bit of an identity recognition there, right? Because oftentimes, again, speaking from like American culture. It seems that we tend to conflate things we do with identity and our language. And some people like it’s just semantic, like saying, I’m a runner.

Jesse: [00:23:22] Right.

Jason: [00:23:23] It’s like, no, you’re not a runner. Running is what you do. And I think parsing out and I learned this in my car accident because I really had to be clear because I think that’s one of the things that triggers us to spiral. Like you get an injury when you describe yourself as a runner and it’s like you can’t run anymore. So what am I? And you’re like, “What am I going to do with — it triggers this whole identity crisis?” as if you have to, like, figure out who you are again.

[00:23:50] It’s like, No, no. Running is what you do. It’s I think of it like an artist choosing a medium. Like, do they make with clay? Do they make with paint? Do they draw with pencils? You know, it’s the medium you express who you are with and the identity you parse it out to be. “Oh, like who is Jason Hardrath?” He’s a driven, passionate person that loves moving his body, he loves talking, he loves teaching.

[00:24:17] And so I know, like if I’m almost certain to this, after the shock wore off and I and I put my head together, if I lost my legs in a car accident, I would buy a racing wheelchair. Like first thing like, yep, just going to do the next going to going to do the next thing that, you know is a way to learn to push my body and a way to express myself. And it’s like I know with my teaching that it’s not that I teach for a school. It’s not that role. It’s that I love creating “aha moments”, those breakthrough moments for people where they didn’t think something was possible or they didn’t understand something.

[00:25:00] And then you create the moment where they go, “Oh my goodness, this is possible, and I do understand this now.” So like, I know that’s what I’m aiming at whenever I’m in any kind of a teaching role is creating that. And so it’s like parsing these things out to be a little more specific. So that way there’s not a loss of sense of identity when, you know, if I got fired from I, if I walk in today and they’re like, “You’re fired. We’re cutting budgets for PE teachers,” it’d be like, “Cool, I’m just going to go out and find other ways to create aha breakthrough moments”.

[00:25:29] That’s what I’m meant to do in this life. And I’ll just find another expression of it, whether that’s at another school or start my own podcast or whatever, I’ll just find a way to express that and I will find a huge amount of gratification in life from doing it in any context. And so I think, yeah, you kind of packaged that in there neatly without saying it, that you sort of understand like this stuff’s not a hard identity, you don’t just get to be one activity, you can totally switch between activities and you understand that that’s coming out of who you truly are. And I think that gives people more flexibility and agility in their lives to handle big setbacks. And and, you know, say they get an injury that says they can’t run anymore, they can pivot and not have it be a crisis.

Jesse: [00:26:23] I mean, this is a topic that, you know, I’m not sure exactly what episode this will be high one sixties. So. Or 160 some odd episodes in — I don’t know how many people I’ve talked about with this problem or this kind of like sticky situation of identity versus activity, and how do we untangle ourselves from it? And you touched on one thing I like to kind of point out sometimes is the role that language plays in how we think about things.

[00:27:00] So I think about it because I’ve learned another language and the way things are said in that language is not the same. You don’t always feel like — Like in English, you say like, I am cold. In French, you say “j’ai froid”, I have cold. Like, it’s just the way the language works is different. And then there are subtleties like that for every language, like the way you express certain situations, feelings, thoughts.

[00:27:34] Some of them are straight translations. Some of them, it’s like it’s not even possible to say that phrase in another language. And sometimes I wonder about like how is there a reliable way to distill down who you are and not be aware of the role that like the systems that you live inside of play in that identity, your language, the infrastructure like we talked about, the societal norms, the opportunities, how your parents are like there’s so many influences and then just the internal things like I think you and I are both, I’ll say like genetically driven. 

[00:27:34] Like I — I think some people just have an inborn genetic need to go do. And it can be harnessed like other people can be, can find that motivation. I’m not saying it’s always genetic, but just like I think there is that component. So I just wonder about is there any way to build? Build a system to get us out of all these systems to figure out who we are. Underneath all of these layers of things that influence who we think we are.

Jason: [00:29:09] I think — You know, I don’t — there’s no one size fits all right? It’s a journey. It’s a process of self-awareness. It’s a process of learning. And a person has to want they have to want to vet that all out. I think I alluded a line of something I talked about, made it into the journey to 100 film. And I mentioned this because obviously I started chasing doing 100 FKTs before FKTs came, became cool and everybody knew about them due to COVID, COVID shutting races down.

[00:29:43] And I was just doing it. I was doing it. Whether anybody was going to care or not, I didn’t think a film was going to get made. I didn’t think like I was going to get any sort of a sponsorship for it. Like I was just out chasing what I loved and I think back. I think back on that. I’m going to lose my train of thought here. What was it you just said?

Jesse: [00:30:05] Talking about trying to distill it down your identity outside of the systems that we live in.

Jason: [00:30:13] Oh, I think. You know, we pursue. One of the things that we don’t really have in our culture, right, it is a rite of passage anymore. It’s like you turn 16 and you get a driver’s license and you turn 18 and you can vote and 21 well, now you can buy cigarets and drink alcohol. Welcome to adulthood.

Jesse: [00:30:33] 25 You can rent a car. Don’t forget, that’s a big one.

Jason: [00:30:36] Oh, that’s so true. The — and problem is like when people want to complain about common sense. The real etymology of that phrase, common sense is that we’re able to pull from a similar set of memories shared, shared experience. It’s not like some kind of magical thing that you’re born with or born without. A common sense is shared among a group of people who have had the same experiences.

[00:31:08] And so they can when one of them talks about a certain concept, they all reach back and can retrieve a very similar memory to go, “Oh, I understand how that feels. I understand what that means. I understand how we should act going forward” That’s the structure of common sense and we don’t have any sort of like rites of passages where people really test themselves and people really I mean, you want to call maybe high school a rite of passage.

[00:31:38] I, you know, it’s I think some of these things where we go out and we spend time in nature and we learn to operate and function like and we push ourselves to our limits and like, you know, running races or adventure races or whatever it may be. I really think from my own observation and the observation of others, that those sorts of experiences really reconnect a person with themselves and their own potential and how to handle negative and difficult emotions and self-doubt, frustration.

[00:32:14] So many important human experiences that a person needs to know how to navigate can get packaged. And this is one of the reasons I love being a PE teacher, right? Is we get to face our fears. We get to face angers and frustrations when stuff doesn’t go our way in a game or we get knocked down and we skin our knee or whatever. Like we get to face all these different human emotions that we would only face in normal life if something was going terribly, terribly wrong.

[00:32:44] You know, like, the only time we’re going to be that frustrated in real life is if we’ve, like, lost our job or our know a loved one dies. We’re going to be really, really sad, like tragedy strikes. But we can have these experiences out in the physical where we face strong fears and we face extreme doubts of our own ability. And we get to, like, sit with those things and learn how to navigate them. Yeah, it’s I think. I don’t know. I’ve been known to say things like, man, I think every human being should do a 24-hour event.

[00:33:21] Like, even if they just walk the whole time, just to see how far they can move in 24 hours and to go through the whole process of what a human being experiences while trying to make themselves move for 24 hours. You know, it’s a pretty safe context. So it’s like nobody really gets hurt. You know, you’re just doing laps around a loop. So, you know, there’s lots of support, lots of chances for help. But it’s like the journey you go on while doing those same loops over and over again because there’s also nowhere to escape.

[00:33:53] When you do a 20 — when you do a 100-mile race, you kind of be like, “Oh, I can’t wait till the view on top of this next peak.” Or, “Oh, I’m looking forward to this next descent. I’m really fast running downhill.” There’s something to like, pull yourself outside of yourself when you do a 24-hour event. You like, get the novelty of the loop once and then after that anything that goes on that’s novel or good has to come from inside you.

Jesse: [00:34:19] Right.

Jason: [00:34:20] You have to be at peace inside your own mind.

Jesse: [00:34:22] I guess it’s like that same stupid rock again.

Jason: [00:34:26] Yep. You’ve got to be able to be like, “No, hey, sweet, it’s that rock again.” And I’m excited because that means I’ve only got this much longer till that other rock and find a way to be positive.

Jesse: [00:34:37] That it shines a light on your internal monologue.

Jason: [00:34:42] Oh, it really does. So, yeah, on a lot of levels. It’s like as a rite of passage, something like that makes a lot of sense because it reveals to a person who they are on multiple levels. But anyways, now I’m off on a giant tangent myself. But yeah, I think. I think that’s those sorts of things really tie into some of the societal level problems that we have with people not being able to navigate fears or be involved in difficult conversations or being all worked up and fearful over things that it’s like, well, yeah, I mean, that’s scary to a very small portion of the population who are directly involved, but we don’t have to all be running around in fear of it. Yeah. So yeah, I think, I think there’s a lot, a lot of value to be derived from taking on physical challenges.

Jesse: [00:35:48] Well, it’s like so every we’ll get to this season’s question here in a minute. But every season of the show, I have a singular question I ask all guests for that season and a couple of seasons ago, like my question for that year was, what’s the purpose of sport? Because I think. It means a lot of things to a lot of different people.

[00:36:10] But I think one of the common thread answers that a lot of people kind of alluded to was like you touched on about one of the reasons why you enjoy being a PE teacher is that it’s almost like a microcosm of life that, like, you can learn a lot of things about winning and losing and struggling and triumph and motivation and that internal monologue and all of these things that maybe would take years and lots of time, reflection, good memory, journaling, whatever to realize, like you can condense down into these more in bite-sized moments, you know, even with your adventures.

[00:36:55] Some of them are some of your FKTs, like in the seven, eight-hour range, which is a considerable amount of time for the average person. But in a time scale of a life span is pretty small, you know, and I’m sure in that in those time periods and obviously you have longer ones than that, too. For those listening, many of the FKTs that Jason took on were pretty big, but just even for the shorter ones, I’m sure you went through a whole spate of emotions and dealt with that internal monologue, positive or negative or whatever it was.

Jason: [00:37:38] Oh, absolutely.

Jesse: [00:37:39] Observing it and it’s like. Doing 100 of them. Like hopefully you come out. As you said, with kind of wisdom, maybe a little more clarity, maybe just not that you come down from the mountain and now you’re this enlightened being. But just like there’s I think you probably picked up at least tidbits, if nothing else along the way that. And maybe in some ways greater or lesser subtle or less subtle, probably changed who you are in some way or another.

Jason: [00:38:14] Absolutely. I mean. Fundamentally, that’s what. For an adventure, to be an adventure. That’s what it has to do. I mean, you have to be facing fear and risk. Otherwise, there is no courage. Right? Structurally, you can’t be courageous unless. Unless there’s something you’re afraid of and, you know, to step out and face conditions that can be life threatening and terrain that can be life threatening.

[00:38:46] And to do this stuff, it’s like there’s fear involved. You know, some people make the mistake of thinking like, “Oh, you must not be afraid of heights.” You know, if you watch the film, it’s the kind of film where some of the stuff I do makes your palms sweat, and they’re like, “Oh, he must not have a fear of heights.” No, I absolutely have a fear of heights. I’ve just taught myself to bring focus up, to match that fear, to still enter a flow state.

[00:39:08] And it’s like I’ve learned that fear isn’t something to just run away from. Fear is not pain in itself. Fear is not damaging in itself. It’s not an emotion to hide from. Fear simply exists to let us know we’re in a situation where our decisions have consequence.

Jesse: [00:39:25] Right.

Jason: [00:39:26] That’s. That’s all it’s doing. It’s like, oh, you’re walking down an alley and somebody looks sketchy. It’s like your next decision. The reason you feel fear, your next decision may have high consequences. You know, it’s like, that’s all. That’s all the alarm system is telling you. It’s like, this might really matter.

[00:39:43] And so I’ve learned to go, okay, I’m feeling this sense of fear. These next decisions matter, which means I need to be paying attention to the right things. I need to be moving in the right ways. I need to be sure that I’m in terrain that my skill set and strengths. Ought to be in. And there’s a whole set of practice and rehearsal and understandings that have led to that over years of practice.

[00:40:09] But it’s that fear matches the or focus matches the fear, and it creates this heightened beyond ordinary experience. And like, as you’re going through this and I think another big takeaway actually to backpedal a bit over the 100 FTKd and even as I did Ironman triathlons prior and marathons prior and ran in college prior. A repetitive thing I discovered is a lot of people — and I had depression. I struggled with some like bouts of depression kind of up and down in college as some people do during that phase of life. And it was pretty bad.

[00:40:49] And the way I would describe the depression, it wasn’t that I was sad. It was that everything was hollow, everything was colorless, everything was tasteless. It was just bled of all of the meaning. My favorite foods just were unmotivated. My favorite activities just seemed uninteresting. Like, even the idea of getting out of bed to feed myself was just like, “huh, I guess it doesn’t really matter.” I know I’m supposed to do it, but, man, that sounds hard.

[00:41:19] And so what I’ve discovered and you know, people ask like, “How do you get through the hard moments out there when it’s, you know, zero degrees and you’re hungry and you’re nauseous and you haven’t slept.” It’s like, well, it’s not that that’s the opposite of a good moment for me. The opposite of happiness and the opposite of joy and like the good for me is the hollow nothing. The apathy.

[00:41:48] But like that, that’s the terrible thing to be avoided. So when I’m experiencing extreme pain, extreme fatigue, sleepiness, cramping, maybe I take a spill and now my arm and shoulder are hurting like I’m having a real raw, extreme, vivid human experience. That’s the spectrum of human emotion that we’re able to experience. And I’ll even be out there in the moment now and be like, “Oh, this is real.”

[00:42:19] Like, “Whoa, this is full on.” Like, I’m, I’m experiencing life. Even when I’m in those lows. And it’s really extreme and it almost sort of like brings me back around mentally where I’m like, all right, cool, I want to be here. This is what I signed up for. I didn’t sign up for it to be all like rainbows and daisies and magic, magic land. I came out here to be human.

[00:42:45] And that means I’m embracing the full gamut of human emotion as I take a journey. Not I’m not wishing I was having a beer when it gets hard. I’m not wishing I was at the finish line when I start to suffer. I’m present in that suffering because that’s actually why I’m there. And, you know, that changes it. That flips things when you’re able to embrace life and look at life from that perspective, that you’re not trying to be happy. You’re not trying to always have everything be up.

[00:43:16] You’re trying to experience a full human experience. And the thing you’re you’re trying to avoid is sitting staring at a computer screen, feeling absolutely nothing about your life and the people around you. That’s what you’re trying to avoid. That’s death to just be absent of any meaning or feeling. That’s the horror show. And I think that changes everything when you have that perspective.

Jesse: [00:43:44] Jason. There’s so many other things we could get on to, but we’re going to run out of time here soon. So I’m going to jump to my last question, which is the question I’m asking everybody this year, and I think you’ll probably have some interesting insight into and that question is how do you celebrate your wins?

Jason: [00:44:03] Nice question. I’ve said this for a while now. This immediately comes to mind when you ask that question. The way you know you’re properly aligned in life is when you celebrate doing the thing by doing more of the thing. And so I did this whole bolger’s climb. And I, I climbed all these mountains, 100 mountains in 50 days, pushing, you know, every single day. You know, that’s an average of two mountains a day.

[00:44:35] Took it a few rest days to let my body catch up. And then the thing I did to celebrate is I climbed one of the mountains I climbed again with a friend who was finishing up the Bolgers list himself and it was awesome, right? It’s like I genuinely love being in the places and doing the things that I do to be able to be in those places. So it’s not like I need to reward myself with something else. It’s like just being out there doing it. And being present with it is the reward.

Jesse: [00:45:08] The activity is the celebration.

Jason: [00:45:11] Exactly.

Jesse: [00:45:13] Jason, if people want to see what you’re up to, catch up with you, any of that kind of stuff, where can they find you?

Jason: [00:45:19] I’m on Instagram, just @JasonHardrath, no periods, no underscores. I respond on there. I’m on Facebook. I have a website JasonHardrath.com, you can email me through, Journey to 100 film is on YouTube. I’ll make sure that you have links to all this for the show notes. If people just want to scroll down and click, yeah, that’s probably the best way to follow and stay in touch.

[00:45:45] And I’m pretty responsive. If you have any grand adventures, you want to get out on that you want to ask some questions about. I also do provide coaching for people that are looking to bridge the gap to a bigger race distance or maybe step across from racing into FKTs. Yeah, definitely. Definitely stoked to help anybody move forward with what they think is next for themselves.

Jesse: [00:46:08] Awesome. Jason, thanks for hanging out with me today.

Jason: [00:46:11] Absolutely. This was a pleasure, Jesse.

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