There are four cardinal virtues recognized by almost all of the world’s philosophies: courage, temperance, justice, and wisdom.  Ryan Holiday examines the first in his latest book, Courage is Calling: Fortune Favors the Brave.  His other books include the bestselling Stoic trilogy of The Obstacle is the Way, Ego is the Enemy, and Stillness is the Key.  He has a popular newsletter and podcast, The Daily Stoic, and on top of all that, he’s a runner!  On today’s episode we talk about philosophy, running, and how they intersect.

Listen to the Running for Real Podcast here:

Apple (iTunes) Podcast | Sticher | Castbox | Overcast | Spotify | Google Play | iHeartradio |

“Seneca talks about this word euthymia, which basically he defines as tranquility, but his definition is that it’s when you have the sense of the path that you’re on and you’re not distracted by the paths that crisscross yours.”

Seneca was speaking about a basis of human life goals, but it can apply at any level, including being disciplined in your running.  Years ago Ryan was out on the track when someone came alongside him, “and now all of a sudden we’re racing for no reason.  And I remember thinking, he has no idea how long I’ve been here; he has no idea how long I ran to get here. Why are we in this pointless competition with each other to prove nothing to nobody?”  Ideally, we should do whatever we’re doing and not be concerned with what others are doing.  Ryan says that as a runner,  “just because someone else is there, just because someone comes up behind you, just because someone is twenty paces in front of you, to be able to tune that out and just focus on what you’re trying to do, to me is the key part of the discipline of running.”

“The Stoics would say that anything you do out of compulsion is not good. I kind of see it as of all the things to be compulsive about, this is probably one of the least bad.”

Another discipline of running is consistency, which can slip over into compulsion.  Ryan acknowledges that he’s streak-focused, but also sees it as a strength. For example, he says, “as a writer, the way you write books is by showing up every day and writing a little bit, and that adds up cumulatively to books and that’s certainly how I, on a consistent basis, have published what I’ve been able to publish.”  He likes to do some form of strenuous exercise every day, but tries to balance out his compulsion to run by biking or swimming.

“What I love about running is that it’s self contained and totally in your control.” 

Ryan believes that one of the things that contributes to burnout is working and “not feeling like you’re making progress, not feeling like it’s having an impact, not feeling like there’s an end in sight, not feeling like you’re progressing, not getting any sort of validation or win out of it.”  Running is the opposite of that because it’s rewarding every time that you do it: “It’s like you decided to run for four miles, you go run for four miles and then you come home and that’s a win. And so what I love about running is that it’s an easy win every day. Even the hard days are still easy compared to the rest of the world, which is so much more uncontrollable.”

“The courage to be oneself, to be difficult, to be unusual, to transgress norms or expectations, is just as scary and just as important in the long run as any form of physical courage might be.”

People tend to think of courage in terms of physical feats, but it’s also “when you put yourself out there, when you do what needs to be done despite the fact that it’s scary or hard or risky.”  Ryan tells a story about Margaret Thatcher, who went for her first job interview after university and saw a note that the interviewer had written, saying that she had far too much personality to work there.  That’s true, Ryan says, she did have too much personality for the job, “but she was courageous enough not to become what she needed to be to work there.”

“There are two kinds of plagues. There’s the one that destroys your life and then there’s the one that destroys your character.”

That’s one of Ryan’s favorite quotes from Marcus Aurelius, who lived during a time of plague.  It was only during the current pandemic that Ryan realized that quotes like that one, which he had thought were purely figurative, were literal, as well.  Now, he says, it’s “like, oh I see what you’re saying. Yes, you can get Covid. Or you can get infected with something worse than Covid, which is whatever is making these people scream at grocery store employees or take horse dewormer, you know, whatever.  You can get infected with a different kind of disease, a different virus. It’s actually worse because it makes you worse as a person. It might not have the same health concerns. But it’s almost worse.”

“One of the things that I love about Stoicism is that it’s a philosophy that articulates really clearly what our obligations are to other people.  For me, the idea that stoicism is this sort of insular personal philosophy really misses what was actually a philosophy designed to make one active in the world.”

resources:

Ryan’s website

The Daily Stoic

Ryan’s Facebook

Ryan’s Instagram

Ryan’s Twitter

Thank you to Tracksmith, Generation UCAN, and InsideTracker for sponsoring this episode.

Tracksmith is a Boston based company that truly cares about the quality of their running clothes. Running can be demanding on our clothes; they definitely go through wear and tear to where we may be purchasing new clothes constantly. Tracksmith designers work with the finest materials and keep you in mind as a runner, with spots for your keys, phone, and fuel. You can go here to check out my favorites!

You can get $15 off your purchase of $75 or more; click here and enter code TINA15. This offer is ending soon!

 

Thank you, Generation UCAN. I have been talking about them for years and they are my ONLY source for fueling while I am training and racing. And without fail, I have a product of UCAN every day, whether it is a Peanut Butter Chocolate Bar or their delicious Cookies and Cream Protein Powder. I am also excited to share with you a NEW product, a gel! It’s fueled with Superstarch and ready to go wherever you are headed.

Go here and get 20% off your order!

 

Have you not been feeling yourself lately? Gone down a lot of avenues, but not really found clear solutions? That is where InsideTracker can come in for you. I have trusted this company for years to help me find what I may be lacking, or if I just need a few tweaks here and there. I count on InsideTracker to help me decipher the science behind it all.

Go here to get 25% off as a special for Running for Real listeners when you sign up!

 

 

Thanks for listening!

We know there are so many podcasts you could listen to, and we are honored you have chosen Running For Real.  If you appreciate the work that we do, here are a few things you can do to support us:

  • Take a screenshot of the episode, and share it with your friends, family, and community on social media, especially if you feel that the topic will resonate with them.  Be sure to tag us on TwitterFacebookInstagram
    • If you are struggling through something a guest mentions, chances are others are too, and you will help them feel less alone.
  •  Leave an honest review on iTunes or your favorite podcast player.
    • Your ratings and reviews will really help us grow and reach new people.

Not sure how to leave a review or subscribe?  You can find out here.

“Thank you” to Ryan.  We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show.

,

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Menu