“So in the classical tradition they often ask the question of what role athletics can play in the good life. And typically the way it is described is that it has a role in character development in sort of helping us to be more well-ordered such that we can flourish longterm. But they also express a concern that if you are having an outsized focus on athletics that it can be bad, both physically for your constitution, but also for your character. There are ways of participating in sport that don’t form you in the right way and so I’ve wondered about my relationship with running in terms of the sort of life that I want to have, in terms of the sort of life that’s suited to what it means to be a human and flourish, and I just don’t think sports has been an unqualified good in my own formation. I mean, there are certain qualities that are reinforced that are not…I mean, envy is the big example that I give, or a kind of intemperance, having an outsized affection for sport that crowds out other features of my life or doesn’t make me a good member of my community. So, in asking the question of what flourishing is, what a good life would be constituted of, I’ve started to inspect the role that running has on my life and I don’t know how well—at least in the dosage that I do it in in ultrarunning—I don’t know if it really supports that kind of life.”
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I’ve been wanting to have this conversation with Sabrina Little for a while now and I’ll just say this: It was awesome. Sabrina is an amazing human being. She’s a wife a new mom, she’s a full-time professor of Philosophy and the Humanities at Morehead State University in Kentucky, she writes my favorite column for iRunFar called The Examined Run, and she’s also a heck of runner in her own right: Sabrina has won 5 U.S. titles, she’s represented the U.S. five times at international championships, she was the silver medalist at the 2013 world 24-hour championships, helping the U.S. win a team gold at that event, she previously held American records for 24 hours and 200K, and she finished 12th at the 2018 Trail World Championships in Spain to help the U.S. team take a bronze medal.
In this conversation, we talked about how running came into her life, running her first 100 miler as a freshman in college as a grand gesture to her mom, who was in remission from ovarian cancer at the time, and how she eventually got into competitive ultrarunning and representing the U.S. at an international level. We also talked a bit of philosophy, why that field of study piqued her interest in college, how and where philosophy and running intersect for Sabrina, including how she “re-ordered her loves” after becoming a mom a little over a year ago, how she thinks about competition, and a lot more.
Sabrina Little: Instagram | Twitter | Strava | Website
the morning shakeout: Instagram | Twitter
Mario Fraioli: Website | Strava
This episode is brought to you by:
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Music and editing for this episode of the morning shakeout podcast by John Summerford.