David Roche: You Are Amazing, and Here’s How You Can Be A Happy Runner

May 3, 2019


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This episode we have runner and coach David Roche. David started the Some Work, All Play (SWAP) team in 2013 and is a coach to some of the top trail runners in the world. He is a two-time national champion runner, a three-time member of Team USA, and the 2014 USATF Men’s Sub-Ultra Trail Runner of the Year. He is also a contributing editor for Trail Runner Magazine and co-author of the book, The Happy Runner. David’s married to Megan Roche, who is also an accomplished runner, fellow SWAP coach, and co-author their book. She recently obtained her medical degree from Stanford.

On this show we talk with David all about the keys to happy running and more:

  • Living in Colorado and driving Outbacks or Sprinter vans.
  • Having a fridge in your car (and other modes of transportation) is pretty amazing.
  • Dog people
    • David and Megan have a dog named Addie, who they refer to a lot in the book. Sometimes she runs with them, but more so she’s a snuggler.
    • DNA testing for dogs — finding out what your mutt/mix is with the Wisdom Panel.
  • On writing The Happy Runner and not passing up the opportunity when it fell into their lap, and sticking to their gut of including a section on happiness (and not just training).
  • Allowing their voice to come through in the book.
  • What David has learned from Lucho, who’s a good friend of his.
  • Why the focus on happiness?
    • We’re all dealing with issues in our head.
    • We’re all staring into an abyss and how we can get comfortable with what’s uncomfortable, our demons, etc.
    • They teach us to learn the right approach to your goals and not get overly number obsessed.
  • Addressing performance anxiety, depression, going to therapy, etc.
  • The stigma around seeing a therapist and how it’s not something to hide or be ashamed of.
  • David and Megan invite us to let down our guard and share our vulnerabilities.
  • Research on how athletes respond differently to different stimulus and stressors based on their mental state.
    • Self-loathing athletes may not adapt as well or as quickly as those with more resilience.
    • In other words, our physiological adaptations are tied into our mental state.
    • Athletes who “hide” don’t allow themselves to reach their potential.
    • We all have issues, let’s see them as “friends” that we cope with.
  • “An unexamined running life often becomes an unhappy running life.”
    • Ability to be present and zoom in on the process.
    • The goal is to find the joy in the moment — both good and bad moments.
  • On failure, and why it’s so important to experience this!
  • Optimize what you can do in the context of your life.
  • Transactional nature of athletics.
  • How to have a healthy relationship with results, and risks we run of caring too much about results.
    • Celebrate every achievement.
    • Remove self-evaluation from the equation.
    • Whether first or last, not let that lead to judgment or assign self-value based on those results.
    • With pros, they teach them to celebrate whatever happens once the start gun goes off.
    • At the end of the day, athletics can just be funny. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • David’s story:
    • A former football player.
    • His time in law school at Duke and meeting Megan, where they got into running together.
    • Put too much focus on running and results at the price of having a balanced life outside running (selfishness).
    • When he “saw the light” and totally changed his approach.
    • Working as an environmental lawyer for a while and realizing his calling was elsewhere.
    • Making the leap to coaching, with Megan’s encouragement.
    • Megan graduating from Stanford as an MD and is now making some decisions on her next steps; currently doing more research.
  • Getting ok with uncertainty is important — take the leap!
  • Give that itching urge you have a chance even if it’s scary.
  • David’s big takeaway: NO MATTER WHAT YOUR DEAL IS, YOU ARE ENOUGH!
  • Mister Rogers — let’s all channel more of his positivity vibe.
  • What’s most important is how you feel about yourself.
  • The “insecurity monster” and self-loathing may not be as obvious as you think, but David invites you to discover these things and discover it for your loved ones.
  • David’s challenge for you: Be an enthusiastic force in the lives of your loved ones, starting with your family and the simplest things like complimenting a good dinner, etc.
  • There are always reasons and excuses on why we can feel bad about ourselves, so if we can move that narrative into something more positive that’s the ultimate path to growth and self-love.
  • Find enjoyment even in the bad stuff:
    • Use your injuries and bad days, bad races, as chances to grow.
  • With such demanding schedules, how Megan and David like to unwind: they love to cook quality meals and watch or listen to comedy.

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