Welcome to the Farnam Street podcast called The Knowledge Project, I'm your host, Shane Parrish, the curator behind the Furnham Street blog, which is an online community focused on mastering the best of what other people have already figured out.
The knowledge project is where we talk with interesting people to uncover the frameworks you can use to learn more in less time, make better decisions and live a happier and more meaningful life.
On this episode, I have Amelia Boonen, Amelia's dominated obstacle course racing since its infancy. She's almost superhuman. A four time world champion. She's been called the Michael Jordan of Obstacle Course Racing. She's also known as the Queen of Pain, having once said, I'm not the strongest, I'm not the fastest, but I'm really good at suffering.
In this conversation, we talk about learning, self-reliance, reading and a little bit about training and so much more. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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Amelia Boone is here, and she's one of the most decorated athletes in the ultra competitive and somewhat superhuman Spartan and Tough Mudder races. Twenty four hour races, one hundred miles of running. And when she's not doing that, she's a lawyer for Apple. She offers a real life example of someone driven by a different motor. I'm pleased to have her on the knowledge project for the first time. Welcome, Amelia. Thank you.
Thank you. I'm excited to be here. Really appreciative.
Make the case for why, given all you've accomplished, I shouldn't think of you as superhuman.
That I mean, because most people I think that would think there's a little bit of crazy, more than superhuman. But I think the funny thing is, is I've always just considered myself a very regular person and that I've never really been a standout all star in anything.
I just happen to kind of find this weird world and capitalized on it pretty early on. But I was just just going through the motions from for the first twenty eight thirty years of my life and then kind of made a change.
How did you get started in this kind of branch of athleticism and keep it like they're both super competitive? So being a lawyer and then being this ultra competitive athlete on the same token, walk me through a little bit about that.
Yeah, so I went to college. I went to law school. I went there with the idea that this was all about academics and this was all about getting the best job I could. And so in college, I worked my butt off to graduate the top of my class so I can get the best law school that I could go to in law school. I worked hard so I could be at the top of the class to get to the best into the best law firm that I could get into.
And I got into the top law firms in the world and I sat around that first year and I go, OK, what's next?
And it was one of those realizations where I thought I'd like I'd work to achieve that goal and work to achieve that goal. But then there was something else that was still there. And so it wasn't until I was twenty seven at the time and decided randomly, as people do, for stupid events to to run a Tough Mudder or with some coworkers there. And they, we finished and they were like, OK, that was cool, check that off the list, go back to our lives.
But suddenly I found just this different niche, this different I think competitive outlet for myself and one that I was really bad at. I mean, my first race that I went out there, I remember falling off of every single obstacle and being like, really?
You used to do monkey bars all the time when you were a little kid and you can't even hold your body weight up. And I think it kind of at that point in my life, reignited this fire of this new challenge of this new thing, and it created a life of its own.
What's it like going from an extremely mentally challenging job to this physical sort of release when you're training or you're running or you're racing? And how do they complement each other?
Yeah, I used to think that there was no tie between the two. I remember I did first when I first started racing, I used to think no one's completely physical. And this provides me the outlet that sitting at a desk all day long doesn't provide me. But the more that I realize and the longer that I've done it, I've realized that actually many of these races, and especially because I'm geared towards the really long distance races, they're way more mental than they are physical, especially at a certain point.
I say in a twenty four hour race, you know, you're going to run the first half of the races is is physical. The second half of the race is completely mental. And there's so much strategy and triage that involves and goes on in these races, kind of like in day to day and work as an attorney and things come up or and it doesn't matter if you're an attorney in any situation, you have to be able to adapt on the fly when things go wrong.
And that's really what all these ultra endurance events are about.
It's not if things are going to go wrong out there, it's when things are going to go wrong out there. And the people that succeed in them are the ones that are able to address the task at hand and work through that. And so I think that I found more and more that I've continue to do this a very, very distinct connection between the two areas of my life.
Can you give me an example of something that, like, you're fifty miles into one hundred mile race and you have to work through them? What does that look like to you personally?
Yeah, so I think I mean, there are a number of things that. But for instance, if you have I was in a race about two years ago and I realized that I at certain points, the race, you drop back so you would have areas where you would stauss store your supplies and your nutrition in advance and then you plot that carefully out.
Kind of know, like, OK, if I need change shoes or I need to change out socks, like, what am I going to do? And I remember I got to this aid station, a 60 mile aid station, and I didn't have I screwed up my drawbacks. So I basically just didn't have anything at that station. And I was like, I don't have my nutrition. I don't have the shoes that I was going to change into.
And at that point, you start your entire race plan starts to crumble and you start to think, oh, God, oh, God.
But then I realized, like, look like it's not there's nothing in that that you can't work through. So, yes, I don't have the nutrition that I was planning on, but this is why I train long distance, sometimes fasted runs to know that your body can get through these things. And it's just so you kind of adapt. And I'm like, OK, well, I don't have my nutrition for the next 10, 15 miles. So I'm going to have to take it a little bit slower, going to have to make sure that I don't get into that zone of banking.
And so you just kind of readjust your plan and it's little things like that that happen all the time or things with injuries. And I you swear that situation will pop up that often in your left knee is hurting and you think, oh, God, I've really done something wrong, and then five miles later, you're fine.
I just kind of talk through it in my head and I say, OK, what is hurting right now? How can I change this? Can I change my gait? Can I slow down and walk? Can I stop and stretch? And it's just all those kind the little micro adjustments that you make.
So that's where you are today when you're racing, where you always like the look after the first race and you went into the second one, were you as mentally prepared or as strong maybe as you are now? How did you develop that?
It's like any skill. It's definitely it's it's practice. It's through habit and it's through repetition. I think that initially I was very, very kind of volatile and all over the places and races. And when something started going wrong, I would scream and cry and think, oh, this is the end and et cetera, et cetera.
So it is definitely something that the more you expose yourself to, the the better you get at it like anything. And I think that's also why something a lot of these ultra endurance events you don't see them dominated by, well, this is changing, but you don't see them dominated necessarily by very young kids. So they eighteen to twenty year olds who are probably are way vastly physically superior to those of us in our mid 30s or 40s. You see in a lot of these events, actually, it's people more seasoned in their late 30s, in their early forties.
You can be a dominant ultra runner into your mid to late forties. And I've seen that a lot because it comes through the mental practice and that repetition and just knowing that you can adjust instead of freaking out.
Have you ever freaked out when you're running?
Definitely. I mean, I've been in races where I have been in situations where I just I mentally shut down. I was in there is these races that are now defunct for a number of reasons, mainly liability.
But they're they're called the death race. And it was a race that's very hard to explain. But you never really knew when it started. You had a general idea and you didn't know when it ended. But they generally went about like seventy two hours. You're out there in the woods doing various tests. It was very mental combination. So you'd have to say carry a bag of cement up a mountain and then at the top memorize a Bible verse and then run back down and then recite the Bible verse to the volunteers that were sitting there.
And if you got it wrong, you had to do it all over again. And so it was a kind of a combination of all of that.
And I remember in one of the races, we were about forty eight hours in and I had to carry this log up, this ravine that was like gushing water and it was just very dangerous. And at some point I just sat there and I just sat down. I don't know, I can't do this. I will not do this anymore. But I let myself in that moment, like, take ten, fifteen minutes, sit with it, let it pass, and then realize, like, all you have to do is just take the next step, because when you start to look at the entire macro picture and you get overwhelmed and that's the key.
And all of these races that I've always found is just just focus on. And next singular step, I never look in the distance, I don't wear a watch that tells me how many miles or how long I'm into something, because that's when you start to get overwhelmed. The perspective, does that carry over to work as well?
Yeah, I think so. I think that definitely I always am focusing on just like the many little tasks, it's kind of one of those things. Like if anybody sets to do lists, one of my favorite things do is write it to do list and put something on there that I've already finished. So then I can just cross it off.
You know, you get that feeling of accomplishment. Exactly.
It's just gaining that little momentum of something that, OK, if I can just get this done, I mean, I'm already on a roll.
Is it hard to see yourself just with this? Like, what is my next step look like like right in front of left versus how do you map that to these goals where you want to podium, you want to be the best at what you do?
Yeah, this has been an interesting relationship. I think that I've kind of developed over over the years and realizing that where you are going to start to falter and where I have fallen down in races is when I start to run somebody else's race. And and those are the situations where somebody is going out much faster than me. Oh, I should keep up with them instead of trusting that I actually know what I'm doing out there. Right. And and so it's very tough sometimes, and especially in a very long race where you'll be going out at a much slower pace because you say, OK, this is how I do it.
I'm I'm a closer and I'm a finisher. I gain my speed and my momentum in the last twenty, thirty miles as opposed to the beginning. But you see somebody else executing a different strategy. And the situations where I've blown up have been those situations where I've tried to follow them. And it's a tough thing to do because you don't you don't. You don't it's not always going to be successful for you to go out there and do your own thing.
But I've always said that I don't care. It doesn't bother me if somebody else beats me on any given day like that does not bother me. What bothers me is when I make mistakes and I beat myself and I've found that most of time that I do that is when I'm when I don't kind of stick with what I know and kind of focusing on that internal compass.
So you're really racing against yourself?
Yeah, I think so. And I think in in in so many ways and I've also I've also come to realize as well that winning is motivated as people are to win, is motivated as athletes are to win.
You see so many people winning races and so miserable and unhappy at the same time, or you see people who are sitting at the top of their profession and you think you should be happy that you realize and as I realized, is that it's never going to be enough just to win.
A race is never going to be enough just to be sitting at the top. Because you think you think at some point, like once I get to X Point in my life, once I have achieved this, then I will be happy and I will have made it. It's just so not true. And so for me, racing has really turned into just the love of the entire process and the love of getting there and working through those really long, hard situations.
And if the results follow, great. But if they don't, it's not as tough for me anymore because I realized, like, I just love the process of getting there.
Was it always like that for you or did that come about through some injuries or like how did you land on that?
Yeah, I think I think deep down I always kind of realized it, but I allowed myself to stray from that when I started having success and thinking that and when I started to have success through winning and then thinking that that was the end goal and that was all that mattered. And so I started to get fixated on it.
It's like the more you win, the more you have success, the more you feel the need to stay successful. And you're so scared of following from that.
And it actually took me it was I was injured for a year. I ended up with a stress fracture in my femur, quickly followed by a stress fracture in my sacrum. So I was off running and competing for a year and it forced me to really step back and take a look at myself and say, OK, who is Amelia Boone outside of Racin?
Who's Amelia Boone outside of being an athlete? Which is kind of a funny question for me. Because I didn't grow up an athlete, this was an identity I didn't have until I was about twenty eight years old, but suddenly in a span of five or six years, I clung to it as my sole identity. And stepping back through that, I realized that the winning was and doing well and success was a great challenge for me. And I enjoyed the competition.
I enjoyed getting there, but was also making me miserable.
And so I think having to step back from that and reframing and understanding and really kind of looking at like where that all came from forced me to prioritize.
So many of us get driven by that. We want to be the best in whatever our respective field is and then we accomplish that. But we're unable to kind of step back because then your identity becomes wrapped up in winning and your ego starts to play with you. And how did you get. Was it the injuries that gave you the ability to kind of step back and give you that perspective? Or were you able to do that as you were going through this and be like, OK, well, winning is not you know, it's not giving me this thing that I need.
And what gives me this thing I need is the journey.
I don't necessarily think it was the injuries, because to be completely honest, as I as I sat there on the sidelines for a year, all I could picture was coming back and crushing it again and getting to that point again and standing on top of that podium again, because I was if something was taken away from me.
And so I was singularly focused on getting back to that. It was actually the humbling process of once I was healed and able to start training again and start racing again and realizing that that amount of time off had really dinged me as an athlete to be better. I mean, it takes a long time to rebuild, but I decided to go out and race anyway and to kind of check my ego and realize that it's just it's it's all a process. And so is actually for me, it was getting back out on that racecourse and getting my pants beaten off and then just not doing well and realizing actually that it wasn't the end of the world and that that wasn't that.
Some of the races that I had this past year were actually were my worst finishes ever were the most memorable to me. And because I've realized that the the times that I can focus on in the Times where I felt joy and felt fulfilled and felt happiness were not the times after a race where you would be standing on a podium or you had that great victory. They were times when I was out there in the middle of misery at 3:00 a.m. with fellow competitors like breaking through the eyes, thinking, what are we doing?
And just laughing. And it was those kinds of moments shared with other people.
And I realized that that's I mean, that's really what it's all about. At the end of the day, do you think that makes you less competitive or more competitive?
You mean that mindset? Yeah. Yeah.
Does that make it more likely that you're going to accomplish a podium or do you think it makes it more likely? Are they mutually exclusive or do they drive each other? I don't know. Talk to me about that relationship.
I don't think so, because I actually think that sometimes the more that you I actually think it makes me more competitive as an athlete to not be fixated on the results. I think that when people are able to step away from that in goal as the end all be all, that's when you actually really start to thrive. Because otherwise it's very and it's true with any any goal you set in life. And I always try to make this people realize that this is applicable well beyond athletics, is that if you get completely fixated on the outcome, you're going to sit there and drive yourself nuts trying to achieve it and beat yourself up if you're not achieving it.
And I think in a lot of ways that's really self sabotage. I think that's why you see people always say the cliche things. It's it's hard to get to the top. It's even harder to stay there. And I think that's because once you're at the top, people start to self sabotage. So there's kind of a great freedom in the whole being the underdog and kind of a great freedom and learning the mindset that the results don't matter. But I don't think that's something that is definitely a learned practice.
I don't think that anyone can just be like, I don't care about results anymore because I mean, we're all high achievers. And that's a huge lie. What it is. I mean, we care about results, but what it is, is is choosing consciously to to focus on something. You can focus on the results, but like. In an effort to to always kind of check yourself and various points of the process and when you start to get over, when you start to get overly fixated on one thing, then to bring yourself back in.
When you're running or you're competing, you're alone.
I mean, nobody owes you anything to entitlement and self-sufficiency.
Yeah, I yeah. So I have had a major problem. But I think in our world today we see so many people that you feel like you have a right to something or that someone should help you out.
And I was raised. My parents are phenomenal, phenomenal. I had phenomenal childhood.
I had a fantastic upbringing.
And I thank them so much for that. But it was one of the things they told me very early on is like you can't depend on anyone in your life except you. And I understand that that sounds very cynical and can sound kind of very lonely. But I think it's the ideal way to function is that if you want something, people will help you along the way. And that's great and be grateful for that. But you can't expect it to happen.
And I see so many things in our world today where it's like, well, but I should get this because so-and-so and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, but it's not that way. And so what I always choose to see the world is that if somebody helps me, that's phenomenal and that's great. And I you know, I give back and I am appreciative, but I'm not going to sit there and expect it and that it's always going to be on me.
And it's that self responsibility and and kind of just self sufficiency that I've always prided myself on is that I think that's all we can ask as human beings for ourselves. And then to help others is to first be self-sufficient and be able to take care of yourself. And that's really what it comes down to for me.
Did your parents have actions that did reinforce that when you were a kid? Like, is there a message for parents that are listening to this interview that want to make their kids more or less entitled and what they can do or what you think that would be applicable?
Yeah, well, and I will say this with a big caveat, that I don't have kids. This is I would take this with a grain of salt. But from my experience, what I think there are many things I'm very grateful for my parents for, first of all, starts with that. We didn't have a TV really growing up. And so I was forced to read all that. I'm not forced to. But I mean, that was that was what I did.
And I was a voracious reader and I read everything and anything. And so that was number one. Second is definitely that as soon as we as soon as my sister and I were able to work, we were out there getting jobs. And even before I mean, my first job ever was mucking out stalls when I was six years old in this barn where we kept my mom, my sister had a horse and to pay for the horses boarding at the barn, we worked kind of not as farmhands, but as stable help to muck out stalls and take care of the different horses.
And so I remember being six years old and given a wheelbarrow and my mom saying, I got twenty five cents dollar and I'm sitting there, six years old, wheeling around this wheelbarrow full sawdust and horse poop and but feeling pride in that accomplishment.
And so we never got new things and we never got new cars and we never had any of that.
It was that if you wanted to buy something, you got a job and you worked for it. And I worked through high school. I worked all throughout college. I worked through law school. And I really am thankful. And I know I whined and complained at the time that my friends are getting things that I wasn't getting. But I mean, I, I it was the best thing ever that they could have done for me.
And in your your corporate and your racing experience, do you feel like that that is a common belief that people have in terms of the self sufficiency, or do you feel like people are prone to entitlement to the point where it impacts not only their happiness but their ability to do things?
I feel like the people who are the most content and therefore kind of I would say the most successful, and it are the ones that that don't have that entitlement. And, you know, I'm in a sport where there's not a lot there's little money, there's very few sponsorships. And so you don't see a lot of entitled athletes, and especially in all. For running, it's very under the radar. It's it's it's not on TV and people run one hundred miles to get a belt buckle, for God's sakes.
You like there's there's no there's there's very little ego in it.
And so I think that that's partly while I was why I was drawn to it. And so there is a lot of self sufficiency out there. But you see, it started to creep in when people start to think, well, but I should get so and so because I've been this successful of an athlete and and luckily, because it is still such a small community, there is kind of a a social norming effect when people's egos start to get out of control.
And so it's kind of the checking by the social shaming of those folks that I think really keeps people in line.
Can you talk to me about how you you prepare and deal with the setbacks? I did. Last year has been particularly challenging. And I think you have like a sixty thousand dollar pinky finger.
Yes, my my finger is titanium.
So about how that's been going from I think you podium six, six or seven years in a row. And then last year was a particularly challenging year because of these injuries. How have you learned to deal with these setbacks?
Yeah, I think I keep telling myself that, like anything, it's also practiced and learned behavior.
But I'm not going to lie. It doesn't necessarily get easier. Why do I still have the same?
You still have the same reaction to any time that you feel like life kicks you or brings you down or you have an injury or you have something that prevents you from from doing what you love. What's changed is actually how I've talked to myself about it, the language that I've used myself and then how I how I react to it. And so, for instance, I the first time that I was ever had a long term injury, I would sit there and I would start to beat myself up over the fact that I was upset or I would beat myself up or the fact that I was injured.
And then I would get upset over the fact that I was upset that I was injured. And so it was like this nasty, nasty, vicious cycle of self flagellation is what I would call it. And the only thing and I think that so many of us get caught into that in that repeatedly being ourselves up for our mistakes and then beating ourselves up or feeling a certain way.
And so one of the things that I've do with all setbacks is really just just to start to speak kindly to myself and to be more gentle with myself as a type a very perfectionistic person that I've had a lot of nasty, negative self talk that I've never really realized or understood for a long time.
And I was one of those people who people like, oh, you should change your language and how you talk. I'm like, oh, that. I was like fluffy crap that I don't really understand or deal with. And that's that's not at all my thing. I was like, I don't really feel like I need to change my language.
But I realized as soon as I was started to be gentler to myself and to just kind of recognize that, OK, this is how you're feeling. It's not good nor bad that you're feeling this way. It's just is what it is. And this is just a feeling and it isn't who you are. And going through that entire process, dealing with the setbacks has been very helpful for me. And that I credit a lot to picking up an actual meditation practice, which I never really had beforehand.
I would always say it excuses. Oh, well, running is my meditation. I don't sit still and I and I still believe that running is a great form of meditation for me. It's where I get all my best ideas. It's where I do the majority of my thinking and planning for the day. But actually being forced to sit still and think about these things as well has definitely helped.
I find that meditation is an enabler of so many other things.
People look at it as, you know, this cost of time, but it facilitates so much of what comes later.
I really empathized with your kind of your self talk because I'm incredibly hard on myself, not only in my expectations of myself, but in terms of the language I use on myself or with myself.
And I've always wondered if that drives me or if it limits me or to what extent where am I on that continuum? Because part of it does drive people to be better. I mean, it's facing reality and dealing with, you know, maybe things that you've done that you could have done better. And then part of it is, you know, you're switching yourself into this negative mindset. How do you how do you think about that?
Yeah, I actually I had the same kind of struggle at Battle in my head about that as well.
But for me, what I've also realized is that I have is and this is a recent change that I've really kind of a practice that I've tried to instill is that I've always kind of thought of these negative parts of me or these negative thoughts as far as demons or things do banish or things that are limiting me, but instead recognizing that actually if I look at the past thirty four years of my life, just how old I am, that these thoughts in these processes in the way that I have worked have actually contributed to my success.
So the way for even though people may say that it's it's bad or it's a bad part of you or something to be banished, actually it's done pretty well for me. And so and so the idea is then to acknowledge that that self talk or these habits have have done have provided me a lot. But that doesn't mean that I have to stick with them. And that doesn't mean that I that I can't change them and try something new. And so it's kind of like, thank you.
Thank you for being there. Thank you for what you have enabled me to do. But I think it's now time to try something different. And you aren't. And this isn't that this isn't a bad part of me, but like you've served your purpose and now I'm going to try and see if I can find a different way. I like that.
It's like this notion of what got you here is not going to get you there. Right, exactly.
And I think also just to realize that I think so many people are like, oh, and I especially this around this time of year, New Year's is like this is what I want to change is when I want to do away with and this is my nasty habit. But I think that people rarely give thanks to those parts of themselves, because that's what's brought you a lot of success in a way, even if you think it is something that's limiting, it's a function of, you know, it's part of who you are.
And once you can be appreciative of that, then you can actually start to change it. I like that a lot.
Talk to me about some of your your habits that you think make a huge difference in terms of not only your happiness, but your ability to manage two incredibly successful careers and do so much.
Yeah, I am a big believer in routine and and really just in making things. I get asked a lot like, how do you so I get up around 4:00 a.m. and I get a lot of people say, how do you do that and how do you train and how do you force yourself out there every day? And like anything, it's just it's it's repetition. But I've realized that I function best early in the mornings and that people are totally different.
So my number one thing is for people is to realize where is your kind of golden hour of the day? And mine actually is before the sun comes up. And so I can get up and that's when I train. And that's actually I know that at that hour of the morning, I'm not going to have work obligations, whereas if I wait till the end of the day, then you never know. Things bleed over, you get stuck at the office, et cetera, et cetera.
But then also, you know, like that's just when I get up and I'm ready to go and I'm productive and I am super productive through the first eight, nine hours of the day. And then I start to crash later on.
And so it's capitalizing on that and and recognizing and everyone has a different rhythm. And so that's been something that's been really, really useful for me. And just in in honoring that and knowing that if I need to be super productive, then that's when I'm that's what I'm going to get it done. And then I can't I can't try and draft a very complex contract at seven o'clock at night because my brain's already shutting down sense.
And so I think that that's that's been really something that's been important to me in terms of in terms of habits and routines. We get on that for a second, like, do you eat anything every day? Do you how far does this habit routine go?
Yeah, I don't well it is very kind of automated when I get up and and then I have my coffee and then I do the same kind of warm up exercises before I go out for my run. And I generally run about five days a week right now. And so and even on the mornings that even on the days that are rest days for me, which is a habit, I've recently included the. I did it for a very long time, but it's the same I do the same process, it's just that I'm not going out to the trials and it's I realize, like, OK, well, then I'll go to the gym and sit in the seminar.
So I feel like I'm doing something kind of replacing that. And I think that's very, very tough, especially for athletes that are super type A and they're like, oh, I can't take a rest, I can't take a day off.
And I'm like, OK, we'll just do the same routine, but just shoven something else like go to a coffee shop for those hours where you would be training or go sit in a sauna as I do.
So that's all the first the eating and everything like that in the early mornings is very automated for sure.
And I think that that, you know, you take out you take out the decisions in a lot of people touch on the thing that the less decisions, the fewer decisions you have to make every day.
Less brain space it takes up. And so there are certain things where if you just kind of automated, it frees up so much time to focus on other things.
What do you listen to when you run or work at like are you listening to audio books? Are you listening to music? Is it the same song on repeat or is it nothing?
Is it just you and this silence and this internal monologue? Yeah.
So I have a little iPod shuffle that I listen to and it's actually has had the same songs on it for probably about five or six years. So I was probably the only person upset when Apple discontinued the shuffles because everyone's like, who uses a shuffle anymore?
And I go, I do.
But yeah. So I listen to music when I run. But the music is kind of almost like I don't actually really even hear the music.
And a lot of the times I've talked about a lot is that I'll be kind of like I'll hit a song and then just repeat that song over and over and over again. And so even though the music's there, I'm not really focusing on it. It kind of serves as background noise for me to then think about other things. And that's just how I've that's for some reason has always been something that's very therapeutic to me. It is very kind of meditative.
What sort of things do you think about when you're I don't even know, like I get up at four a.m., but I definitely do go running.
So, I mean, like, what sort of things do you think of it when you're on a four or five hour training run?
Right. Yeah, more before most people get out of bed.
The Yeah, I so that's actually where I do the major I blog occasionally. I'd like to write more than I do, but I do a fair amount of writing. Not all of it sees the light of day and I do the most of the writing in my head when I'm running and then I, then I will after the run and sit there and then write down what I was thinking about, because otherwise it'll just vanish out of my head. And I don't really run with a phone ever.
So I'm not going to stop and run and, and take down notes of things that I was writing. I do sometimes run with a Sharpie and so then I'll kind of jot down things on my arm as I'm going if something if something kind of comes along.
But I work through a lot of problems actually out there and I don't force things.
I kind of it's whatever kind of comes to my head of something that I need to think about and then devote some time to it and then move on to the next thing.
And then sometimes I just honestly, you just kind of zone out and it is that people say, oh, is it a runner's high? I don't think it's a runner's high. It's more just if you've ever meditated and got into a zone where just nothing comes to your brain, then then it's kind of that state, I guess.
And that for me is like the ultimate kind of run. It's almost kind of a blank mind.
One of the questions that I really want to ask you, and I can't figure out a way to fit this in, so I'm just going to come out and ask it right away, which is what do you fear?
Yeah. OK, so here's a funny I'll answer this in a roundabout way. If you would ask my parents when I was five years old, the answer is everything. Emilia fears everything. I was that kid and I was petrified of I kind of like sleepover at my friend's house because I was afraid of my parents house burning down or something totally random. I had complete I had so many fears and so many phobias.
And so it was very kind of when I started to sign up for these races in these long twenty four hour races, it was so out of character for me and for what everybody in my family and my friends. About me, and I think that it was actually through doing a lot of these races that I started to work through a lot of these fears and being fearful.
But honestly, one of the big things that I fear is not being able to do what I love. And so in that that is why injury has been such a hard thing for me, is because you you fear the loss of something being taken away from you. And I think that so many people in life are driven by that fear of loss.
That's why we set up structures like we do, is that we are so afraid of things being taken from us or losing, but so not losing in scheme, like losing a race, but losing something, losing connection, losing a loved one, losing a relationship.
And so those are things that are still that I still have to work through and I and I work on. And for me, really kind of addressing those has been in reframing how how you term that loss, because sometimes that loss then opens up space for something else to come into your life. And that's that's really been a process that I've been working through these past few years. And I don't have the answer.
It's still it's still a it's still an ongoing, ongoing journey for me.
Are you still a big reader? I am a big reader. It's not as much as I want to be anymore. I, I, I actually have gotten back into reading. It was something that I brought back in my life about two years ago after a few years of just kind of putting things to the side.
But yeah, it's and it's actually been something that has been a huge, huge benefit to just set aside time to read, because I used to do it all the time and I stopped for a long time.
So when do you read? I do.
So I now set aside about 30 minutes to an hour every night before I go to bed to read. And I don't force myself like if I don't feel like reading, I'm not going to sit there and be like you read Amelia.
But that's generally how I feel.
Yeah, it's like it's a designated study hall time or something. But so I that's I generally read every night before I go to bed and then mainly at travel, I travel, I'm on planes a lot. I look forward to planes, I do my best work and my best reading on planes because I never get Wi-Fi and I absolutely love it. And it gives me a huge chunk of time to be able to read, to be able to write.
So you you have very firm obligations and very two to very complete life. So it might actually be full time lives for other people.
You fit two of them in and you read. How do you sort there's a million books published each year.
How do you sort through what you read? Yeah.
So I a long time ago, not a long time ago, I think it was when I was probably in college, I decided I was going to read every book on the list of the hundred greatest novels that everyone should read in their lifetime.
And I don't actually know where that list came from. I think it was one of those times or The Guardian. It was by no means a definitive source, but it was some like one hundred greatest classics everyone should read. And I started doing that in college and working my way through. And so I still went. Now, if I don't have something like in my if I if I don't have a book like that's really calling to me, I'll go back to that list and be like, OK, what have I not hit on there?
But I do take I have a running list of running like note on my on my phone of books that people mentioned that come up. And I just when, when people say something like or recommend it like I'll write it down. And so I mean I've just I've probably two hundred books that are sitting there that are waiting to be read and then kind of when I need the next thing, I will take a look at that and be like, oh, that strikes me because I go in waves of do I want to read something fiction?
Do I want to read a novel? Do I spent a long time doing solely non-fiction and now I'm trying to get back to more into the novels. So, yeah. Why is that?
I think that reading when I was young, reading for me was always not an escape, but an ability to kind of like journey into a different world and into the novels and into that realm. And I think in my life like there and I think right now and in society, we are so connected and everything is you can get instant access to to world events, to everything going on. And at some point it's like you kind of want to back.
Away from that, and so it's kind of and so for me, novel's getting back into novels have been has is an opportunity to to live in a different kind of world for a bit. And I think that that's something that is underappreciated in this day and age.
So as a self-described, you know, type A personality, when you're reading a nonfiction book, how do you actually read that?
Do you read from cover to cover to jump around a bit? How do you process that?
Yeah, I read so I generally one of the greatest, most free things that ever happened to me was when I gave myself permission to not finish a book.
And I used to think that if I started a book that I needed to read all the way through it and if I did it and then I was just a failure. And once I realized that there is nothing wrong with putting down a book that feels like a slog, then I then I've kind of repurpose that.
I generally read cover to cover, unless it's a book that's that's very chapter specific.
And you can jump around there sometimes if I'm reading a book, nonfiction book about athletic performance or sports psychology or something like that, and I'm only really focused on one area, so I'll jump straight to that. And I don't feel bad about that.
But it's generally cover to cover and I don't try and overthink it either. But I do definitely have no qualms any more about putting books down.
Talk to me a little bit. A bit. That's really interesting. The not the putting the books down, but the learning aspect of this. I just kind of thought of it this you went to from not having competed in a particular sport, not having any friends in it to dominating the sport. How did you learn how to train compete to tune your body? What was that process like?
I think, to be honest, I think that's the the part of the sport that got me so excited and got me involved because there was no roadmap when I started out with obstacle racing. I mean, it was the it was a brand new people wouldn't even call it a sport. We didn't even know what to call it. We were calling it adventure racing. I mean, there wasn't a name for it and there was no roadmap. There was no way to train.
And so I had the opportunity to kind of write that quote unquote book and to find out and to try different things and to learn. And it was all through trial, at trial and error. And I think that that's what appealed to me, whereas opposed to people will get into triathlon or things like that and say, OK, well, this is you have to do a brisk workout and this is how you do it. And this is these are the certain ways and this is your your schedule.
And everything was so planned out for me. It was the the challenge in in learning the best way to go about something that nobody had any idea how to do. And that was really drew me in there. How did you learn?
Was it sheer like brute force on your part or was it like, oh, I'm going to seek out and talk to these people and I'm going to read these these books that might offer me tidbits and I'm going to craft my own plan. Like, what does that look like?
Honestly, it was it was really just trial and error. I found that for a very long time. I didn't. So I didn't run with a watch. I didn't know what a temple run was. I didn't understand the different training. I didn't come from athletic background.
So there was almost this ignorance is bliss kind of thing. And just going out there and not knowing anything and kind of having freedom from all of those inputs. And I've actually found is that now it's it's almost harder because there is so much input coming in as this is how you should train. And this is if you're not doing it this way and then you're doing it wrong and this is the best exercise for so and so. Whereas when I first started, there was none of that.
And it's actually has driven me bonkers to the point where, like, I've started to actually disconnect from a lot of that.
And just to go back to this was where I started with all of this how and like and it worked for me. So stick to that as opposed to listening to all those inputs from other people about what is the best way to do something, because I think that no, no, two athletes are the same and one training plan isn't going to work for everyone.
And so mind may be a bit more unconventional and a bit different than what the standard the standard thinking is now. But six, seven years ago, there was no thinking like that. So just to ignore that.
But finding your own. As part of what you self described, that is like finding joy in that, like that was part of the appeal to it, that doesn't necessarily exist to the right people. There's tons of resources on how to train, how to compete. There's there's people like you to reach out to and be like, hey, can you help me? Would you still go about it the same way?
And knowing what you know now, or would you try to more optimize that?
Honestly, if I was starting out now, I don't actually even think I would get into it, because I think that there was already you already have this roadmap, and I think that you already have this way of comparing. So for me, it's always been about what I've realized and come to accept and recognize is that I like the new challenge. I like the unknown. And and I like something. I like the challenge of where there is no map that's been written.
And so for me, like, if I was like, it's like, OK, well, what's the next thing now? What's the thing that no one else has conquered that that people don't understand. And then to try and to learn that.
So it's interesting to think about for sure.
Do you set goals for the year? What's your personal process for accomplishment? Yeah, I, I do not set goals, I don't set resolutions, but I do kind of focus on themes. So I will every kind of peer review review what happened or what I took from that and then and then try and apply that into my life going forward. And so I think this entire past year for me was kind of like reconnecting with Racin and rediscovering joy and and understanding that.
And what I realized from that, from Racin and actually finding joy in it again is that part of that joy was is is about for me is. Writing my own, marching to my own tune, and to do that, sometimes you have to be bold and I have to say, OK, well, this is what everybody wants me to do as an athlete. But it's not necessarily what I'm being drawn to right now. So I'm going to go off into this direction and having the ability to say that and to recognize that and realize that that's OK.
And so for me, I'm now like, OK, well, this year the idea is, I guess part of that capitalizing on that joy is to be bold and go in my direction and have that self-confidence. And so that's kind of what I do on a on a yearly basis. I have goal races, but I try to not get too fixated on the actual race itself, because as I realize as I've realized, the joy comes from the building up to that race and the getting excited about it.
It's like when you go on a trip and you get super excited before you're on the trip and everything, and then you get there and you're like, OK, this is cool.
You know, it's not it's always the anticipation and the shared with a lot of extremely successful athletes in sports that I've talked to. And it's across the board is that, you know, the day to day, the grind, the the preparation, you know, when you go out for a race that's, you know, that's one single event, but it's won or lost in a way during the week. The training, the preparation, the mental.
Yeah. And I think that I think it's the most that the best athletes are the ones who enjoy the daily grind. And I honestly discover this past year that I could train and train and train and train and rarely race and be happy as long as I was training, you know.
But could you train without having a race? Like, would you still have the same sort of maybe competitiveness or drive that would make you get up at four or not make you but, you know, get up at four a.m. to go run for five to six hours?
Absolutely. Absolutely. Because I the racing is kind of the icing on the cake. But for me, the joy is found in the day to day and the like. If it was four to five hours on a treadmill, God no. But I realize that a lot of my the trails, it's nature.
It's me being out there kind of by myself, clear in my head, seeing beautiful things.
Well, it's time for one second here. It's sixty years in the future. We're having a conversation telepathically.
Probably talk to me about what you want in your life.
What is what is your life look like at that point? What made you happy?
Yeah, man. So how old am I? Midnighters, who hope I make it that far. I hope I'm walking to that point. I hope I still racing at that point.
I know. I know. I actually that's one of the things that I that I've taken a step back to to realize is that I want to have longevity as an athlete. And when I'm in my seventies and eighties, I would be amazing to still be out running.
And I do know people that age who are running racist.
But I think for me it's really it's about relationships. And in my life at that point, it's it's really about building those connections. And it sounds weird coming from a person who spends hours a day by herself training, because I realize that that's actually a very selfish act. But what has always kept me coming back to sport is really the community and the connections that you build. And the reason that I love really long races is that it's less about you individually and less about your physicality and more about the connections built out there on the course and among the community.
And so those are the relationships that I really cherish. And so for me, it's it's really about 60 years from now, like, what have I given to others and how am I relating to others? And I think that in the end, the day we all just want to be surrounded by people that we love and that love us. And that's so hopefully everyone I'm going to assume at that point we'll all be living to one hundred and fifty anyway.
So it's okay to be putting us to shame by getting up at four and running like fifty miles, right?
Yeah. Do you ever have days when you just want to give up and sit on the couch and watch Netflix? Like what do you do when you're exhausted by all of it? I was exhausted just researching you going like, oh my God. Like, I don't feel like a lazy person very often, but I'm like, oh, I feel so lazy.
So this is why people may want to shoot me for saying. I never I don't really get tired and so and I don't have never had a day where I just really am just like, screw this, I don't want to go for a run. I just I just want to sit on the couch all day. To me, that sounds like the worst torture in the entire world. And I think what's really driven that is that because I was kept away from training for a year or so, is that every single time that I go out for a run that I'm able to train, it's an act of gratitude for me, like I am just so over the moon, giddy to be able to go out there and do something that makes me happy.
And so focusing on that just just drives me, drives me through it.
And so I guess that maybe that's something that keeps me that keeps me going.
Maybe at some point I'll hit a wall and I'll be all out of gratitude. But I hope not.
Oh, please, just give more of it. Right. Yeah. Um, what do you do? You have to give up. There's an opportunity cost to this. Right. So what are you sacrificing to live this way?
I sacrifice I to be honest, I sacrificed a lot of my relationships and that's as I said, it sounds funny when I say in 60 years, what do you want? I say people around me that I love and and that share time together because I realize it is a very selfish act. And I don't get to see my friends, my family as much as I'd like to. It's harder for me to go.
All of my vacation time is taken up by racing, so I don't necessarily have time to go vacation with friends or to go do other ventures that aren't related to racing. So there's definitely that. There's that part of me that I haven't really figured out. And I found a lot of connections and and relationships through the athletic world and whatnot.
But I definitely sometimes have that guilt that cruisin around family and friends and things like that.
And and I give up work, happy hours and things along those lines that but instead if I have to train early the next morning and whatnot. But I think there's a balance. I mean, I don't think by any means that I'm singularly focused on one thing to the detriment of others, because when people say, like, I don't have time, it's not that they don't have time, it's just that it is it it's just not the first thing on their priority list.
And so I say I say, for instance, oh, I don't have time to make my bed. Oh, no, that's not true. I got plenty of time to make my bed. It's just not a priority for me.
So I think it's just what you choose, what you choose to focus on for sure. Do you talk to yourself that way?
Like, I find it really helpful when people confront that reality and the reality being like, um, choosing not to do something because I'm placing something else that's more important versus like I can't do that.
Oh, absolutely. And it's to me and goes one hundred and ten percent like I own I own my my faults, I own my weaknesses and I own things that I am really bad at. Like I don't for instance, I'm an awful cook, I'm a horrific cook.
I will burn down the house with anything. If I really wanted to, I could take the time and learn how to not burn my eggs. But it's just not a priority for me.
And I will admit that maybe at one point in my life it will be a priority. And that's the thing that I don't think that it's necessarily a bad thing. I think I think people can do two things pretty well. Like if you look at like work, family and extracurriculars, like you can probably nail two out of three of those. So when you try and do really well, like all three of those, that stuff starts to go by the wayside.
But that doesn't mean that you can't have it all. It's just that you're all is going to shift at different points in your life and your priorities are going to shift. So I don't really have a problem with with owning that. There are some things in my life that I just don't put at the top.
Yeah, I think that's part of what makes people so successful. Right, is that they make those trade offs between I don't have to be good at everything. I want to be really good at a few things. And I realize that comes with a cost. Right.
So you had an interesting habit as a young child, which was you collected quotes. Can you tell me about when did that start? What does that look like today?
Yeah, I the quote started with me and my reading habit, so I'll never forget we were enrolled kind of in the. Reading a library, the local library, reading programs, and I remember like reading 60 books in a summer or something like that, and I probably got in like third or fourth grade and I would just take quotes from books that really kind of stuck out to me.
And I would at that point, I mean, there was really no computer stuff. And so it was all just written down in a notebook.
And then as I got older and I was heavily involved in music as well and very much so. And that lyrics really talk to me. And so I then switch to when lyrics would grab me, I created a document that had all the lyrics and then that also put it in all my book quotes.
And unfortunately, you know, back in the day when your computers used to crash and you used to lose everything, that along with the computer. So they're going a few times.
I've lost all those documents, which has been really sad, but I've always kind of tried to recreate them and whatnot. But to this day, whenever a quote pops up to me in a book or in a lyric or just anywhere, like, I stick it into a document.
And it's really interesting to me because I can go back through that list and then and then kind of pinpoint moments in time based on that quote or that song or how I was feeling is very, very pervasive with songs for me. I mean, because I'm sure everyone can do this like teenage angst, years of what you were listening to and where you were at that point in time.
But it is I have this playlist on my on my iTunes of like all these different songs from different eras in my life. And it's really kind of you just like take a walk down memory lane by listening to them.
That's awesome. So being a type person and not necessarily just an athlete, but one of the common things I hear from my type friends is an incredibly successful Fernand's is that resting is a form of weakness, resting, being sleep, resting, being like anything that is not pushing you forward towards a particular goal or achievement. What do you say to that?
Yeah, yeah. I mean, this was something that I if you would talk to me three years ago, then I would have completely agreed. Is that I don't I don't I don't always constantly moving like there's no point in rest, et cetera. And it led me into situations of burnout, obviously, physically, mentally and in forms of serious injury.
On the physical side, it's only been within the past year or two that I've been able to embrace the concept of stress and that really that you're going to have to at some point take a step back. Everything in life is a push and pull. So you push, you push, you push, and then you've got to pull back like it's just natural and that nothing is a linear, straightforward progression. And like, don't get me wrong, I still hate the concept of rest.
I don't it doesn't come naturally to me every once a week when I have my rest days and I sit there and I'm anxious and I'm agitated and I just want to get it over with and get back to, you know, get back to the grind.
But I think that it's it's been one of those relationships that I've been working on reformulating and realizing that there's nothing wrong with rest. It's not a four letter word and nothing dirty. And that, like the greatest gains come from those times of of quietness.
I like that a lot. Amelia, where can people find out more of you? Yeah.
So there you can find me on social media, on Twitter, at Amelia Boonen, on Instagram at Arbon 11. I have a website that still needs some updating and a blog, Amelia Boone Racing Dotcom.
And yeah, I'm generally where I'm most responsive.
Thank you so much for being on the show. This was an amazing conversation. Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.
Hey, guys, this is Shane again. Just a few more things before we wrap up. You can find Schnitz from today's show at F-stop Blogs podcast. You can also find out information on how to get the transcript there. And if you'd like to receive a weekly email for me, filled with all sorts of brain food, go to F-stop blogs, newsletter, the newsletters, all the good stuff I found on the Internet this week that I've read and shared with close friends, books and reading and so much more.
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