Valid question. If you’ve gone through the public school system as a child, you’ve most likely been conditioned to view running as a punishment, something that people who are in their right state of mind don’t enjoy. There are so many benefits to running, and it’s pretty easily agreed upon that the more one enjoys the activity, the easier it is.
But here it is. The two things that got me into long distance running and made me enjoy it.
1). Signing up for a half marathon and finding a training plan.
Signing up for a tangible and most-definitely-going-to-happen race gave me a deeper and more founded motivation. I wasn’t pushing myself farther and faster just to look good or to feel healthy, I was doing it because I imagined the pain and embarrassment I would feel if I didn’t train and showed up to race anyways.
We are motivated by two things: pleasure and pain. The fact that we understand and accept this gives us a leg up because we can use it. In order to motivate ourselves, we apply pleasure and pain. I visualized the pain that would be associated with not training and running a longer distance than my body was ready for, and that motivated me. I visualized the pleasure that breakfast would yield after a long run, and the pleasure after running a longer distance than I had ever run before.
And having a plan gave me purpose. It wasn’t “what do I feel like running today?”. If it had been, I would have never run hill repeats or speed intervals or tempo runs. You are never going to feel like it. That’s what makes discipline so hard. It’s about acknowledging weakness and then manipulating circumstances to make succumbing to weakness not such a desirable temptation.
This one gets it’s own heading, because it’s a defining feature of my run. Listening to music during a run is grand, but for me, having a run that is divided into 3-5 minute increments is too mentally taxing.
With podcasts, 30 minutes go by at a time without me even glancing at a watch or knowing how long I’ve gone.
I love learning, and injecting knowledge as much and in as much bulk as possible. The world is filled with things that I’m passionate about and people who more knowledgeable than I, so being able to multitask during a run—exercising in while also learning about the way the world works—increases my love of running tenfold. There are experts on almost everything one can be passionate about, and experts put forth a plethora of material.
Here are the podcasts that I oscillate amongst during a run, organized into topics:
Podcasts Primarily about Running:
- No Meat Athlete –
Matt Frazier is a vegan ultrarunner with insurmountable knowledge over training techniques, nutrition, race day tips, pretty much everything a runner who is interested in either racing or running endurance-length distances could be curious about. Especially if one is interested in how to do this on a plant-based diet.
Each episode pertains to a specific subject; protein sources for vegan athletes, how to stick to a training plan during the holidays, tips for a first time marathoner, etc.
His style is anti-preachy, too. He doesn’t come across as if he “knows all the answers”, but merely portrays his information as things that have worked well for him.
- Trail Talk –
Trail Talk is hosted by the “Rock Creek Runner” Doug Hay, who is the co-host for the No Meat Athlete podcast radio with Matt Frazier. Doug Hay is a ultrarunner who is passionate about trails and getting out in nature. He presents his podcast as a podcast on trail running techniques and knowledge, and “it just so happens he’s also plant-based”.
All of his episodes range from 6-15 minutes, just “bite-sized” tips and techniques for specific topics.
- The Runner’s World Show –
What I love about the RW Show is the outline of each episode. Runner’s World is so esteemed and has so many resources available to it, that each episode is well-developed and features a plethora of really big-name runners. The knowledge is insane, and it’s presented in a relatable way, as if, in some magical running kingdom, you are on the same level as Ryan Hall, and the two of you can have a casual conversation about adoption processes in Africa. And also how to run the fastest American marathon.
Also they did this really stellar episode featuring the man who wrote First Ladies of Running about influential and motivational women runners. That always gets my woman-power blood pumping.
- The Rich Roll Podcast –
What draws me the most to the Rich Roll Podcast is the nature of Rich Roll himself; he’s such a relatable human. That’s mainly it. He’s really, really human. He’s humble, not calling attention to how crazy his endurance and athletic ability is, but rather fixating on the discipline he had to develop to get that ability and the trials that humbled him along the way.
It’s one of the most beautiful things in the world when a person discovers his or her life purpose and then pursues it to entirety. Rich Roll is passionate about mindfulness and being in touch with those around us and our environment, and his life goal is to help others find the same peace and relief and beauty that he has.
Podcasts that Offer Inspirational Perspective on Life:
- TED Radio Hour –
“The TED Radio Hour is a journey through fascinating ideas: astonishing new inventions, fresh approaches to old problems, new ways to think and create. Based on Talks given by riveting speakers on the world-renowned TED stage, each show is centered on a common theme – such as the source of happiness, crowd-sourcing innovation, power shifts, or inexplicable connections.”
What got me through the last 5 miles of my hilly second half marathon race was the podcast on “Endurance”. These speakers completed insurmountable endurance feats; I can run a couple miles.
- On Being –
Krista Tippett (I honestly thought her last name was “Tidbitt” for the longest time) is a wonderful, soothing explorer on the immensity of our lives. She probes the deeper and big questions of meaning and takes it to experts, such as scientists, theologians, artists, and teachers.
I come away from this podcast with my soul refreshed and a new perspective from “Why is the World So Beautiful?” to “Music and the Ritual of Performance”.
- 10% Happier with Dan Harris –
Dan Harris is the author of “10% Happier: Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics”, and continues his bestselling book further in this podcast. He explores the fundamental questions of: “Can you be an ambitious person and still strive for enlightenment (whatever that means?)” with super smart people. It’s golden.
- Vegetarian Zen –
A peaceful, non-judgmental place to find information on vegetarianism, veganism, juicing, exercise, motivation and green living. They feature tips, healthy recipes, product reviews, etc.
My personal favorite was the episode dedicated to Coffee!
- The Nerdist –
These guys are the intersection of “casual” and “laid-back”; they bring in people more famous than themselves and have a (sometimes explicit) conversation about whatever the heck they feel like talking about.
My favorite episode was when they chilled with Daniel Radcliffe, because Daniel Radcliffe has this super authentic giggly-laugh that bubbles up whenever he thinks something is funny, which is all the time. So happy people having a funny conversation caressed my ears during a long tempo run one Wednesday morning, which I can still remember as one of the most pleasant runs I have been on.
- Myths and Legends –
This is more than for just English majors; anyone who grew up loving fairytales and bedtime stories would love this. It’s like fairytales and bedtime stories for adults, that you’ve never heard of before.
The host is exceptionally thorough in researching all accounts of a tale in order to produce the most authentic legend as possible.
- Profile –
These episodes are 15 minute insights into a character of an influential, figure-making news headline. The producers, again, do an exceptionally-thorough job at researching each character fully.
Personal favorites include the episode on Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, as well as on Meb Keflezighi.
- Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin –
Same kind of deal as Profile and even as The Nerdist (although much more serious). Alec Baldwin, with his soothing man-voice, discusses the lives of really interesting celebrities. My absolute favorite was the interview with Julie Andrews, as well as his talk with Jimmy Fallon.
- Stuff You Should Know –
I personally love “random fact” stories, and these two do an excellent job at pulling random, overlooked stories and researching them thoroughly. Personal favorites: “The Time the Nazis Invaded Florida”, “The Duality of Caffeine”, and “How Vestigal Organs Work”.
While this is currently an exhaustive list of the podcasts that I regularly listen to, it probably will be outdated by this time next week.
Do you have any podcasts you are dedicated to? Do you have a “secret” to what has made you love running? Comment below!
Peace and Blessings,