Quick Splits: May 9, 2017

By Mario Fraioli

+ If you only read one article that I link to this week, make it this one from Gabriele Grunewald, self-described “full-time professional runner, part-time cancer fighter. Or is it full-time cancer fighter and part-time professional runner? The truth is these days, I’m not really sure.” I hope that someday I can be half as tough as this woman. “When I’m in the middle of a workout I’m not thinking about surviving cancer, I’m just trying to survive the workout,” the 30-year-old Grunewald writes. “I still dream about running fast this year and beyond, but the truth is I don’t really know what’s going to happen or how much elite running is realistically in front of me. All I can do right now is approach each day like I approach each rep of a workout: one at a time, doing my best to hang on until the next one.” What a warrior, what an inspiration, what a hero.

+ Cathal Denehy of Runner’s World wrote this profile on Grunewald after her 1500m race at Stanford last Friday night. Check it out after the goosebumps from reading the last piece I linked to finally start to settle down. While it wasn’t her fastest race—Grunewald finished last in her heat, running 4:20.17—she isn’t afraid to compete, committed to finding out how good she can be on a given day, despite the fact she’s fighting a disease that currently has no cure. “Up ahead, [Grunewald] is faced with a demoralizing sight: Her seven rivals are escaping into the distance,” Denehy writes. “They are athletes whom Grunewald could beat by several seconds at her best, but that was then and this is now. Tonight, on a cold Friday evening in Palo Alto, California, things are different.”

+ “A structureless life is a depressing life,” writes Austin Kleon. “Our days work better when they have a reliable shape. Grab a copy of Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals (if you can’t afford it, see #2 on this list) and read about the daily routines of famous artists, scientists, and creative people. Take inspiration from them. Cobble together your own daily routine and stick to it. As tempting as it is to sleep in, train yourself to get up early and do the thing that’s most important to you.” This is one of five easy-to-implement pieces of excellent advice geared toward recently unemployed graduates but applies to anyone who is feeling lost or a little stuck in their current situation. I’ve revisited this post on multiple occasions since first coming across it a year or so ago and it always helps me get back on track.

+ This week’s sponsor, The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, has been rolling out some excellent longform films called “Milestones”—produced by my former colleague, the incomparable Steve Godwin—highlighting its history and impact on the sport of running. One of the latest episodes, “The Champion,” tells the story of Roger Craig, a three-time Super Bowl champion turned 2,500-mile-a-year long-distance runner who has completed 13 marathons and 15 half marathons since taking up the sport in 2004. In short, it’s a great piece of storytelling about an incredible athlete and awesome human being that I really enjoyed and wanted to share. “I accept adversity and take it head on,” Craig says in the film. “I believe in myself, believe in my dreams, and that’s the bar you want to set in life. You want to be able to do things and try to achieve them at a high level. [Taking adversity head on] will make you a better person.” [Nerdy side note: In the film, Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News talks about “The Hill” (which is actually a 4.5-mile loop on the trails) in Redwood City that Craig and Jerry Rice used to run as part of their off-season conditioning program. Well, I used to live about 10 minutes away from “The Hill,” aka as Edgewood County Park, and as you can see here, it’s no joke.] 

+ I haven’t shared any new podcasts in a while but this recent episode of Waking Up with Sam Harris—“What is technology doing to us?”—was sent to me recently and it really opened my eyes to a lot of things (which seems to be the point of the show, go figure). In it, Sam Harris interviews Tristan Harris, founder of Time Well Spent, the site I linked to last week that shared some great tips on reclaiming our attention. Carve out about two hours of your time this week and listen to learn more about how and why technology companies compete for your attention, what needs to be done about it, how the ads we see factor into the equation, and much more. “The thing I’m so interested by with our phones and with Facebook, is that these are things people live by,” Tristan Harris says. “I mean, 50 percent of the U.S. population, basically the number one news source for 50 percent of the U.S. is Facebook. So this is something that people are checking everyday and runs their beliefs about the world. It’s so invisible, the way you just take a breath and look out where we are at the beach, that’s a very different phenomenological experience than the beliefs that get put inside me by looking at Facebook. And we just don’t talk about this.”

A version of this post first appeared in the morning shakeout, my weekly email newsletter covering running, writing, media and other topics that interest me. If you’d like for it to land in your inbox first thing on Tuesday mornings, subscribe here.