The Knowledge Project: Learning How to Suffer with Amelia Boone

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Intro
  • Amelia Boone (@ameliaboone and ameliabooneracing.com has been coined the Michael Jordan of obstacle course racing
    • Since the sport’s inception, she’s amassed more than 30 victories and 50 podiums. In the 2012 World’s Toughest Mudder competition, which lasted 24 hours, she finished 2nd OVERALL out of 1,000+ competitors.
  • She’s also know as the queen of pain
    • “I’m not the strongest, I’m not the fastest, but I’m really good at suffering”
  • Amelia is also a lawyer at Apple
How did Amelia get started in obstacle course racing?
  • Her personality tends to always leave her searching for more/what’s next
  • After graduating from law school at the top of her class, she got into one of the top law firms in the world
    • However, she found herself asking – “What’s next?”
    • At this point she decided to run a Tough Mudder with some coworkers and she fell in love with the sport
How do being a lawyer, and running obstacle course races, compliment each other?
  • The long distance races (some 24 hours in length) are more mental than physical, especially the second half
  • With these ultra endurance events, you really have to be able to adapt on the fly
    • “It’s not if things will go wrong, it’s when things will go wrong”
    • As an attorney, you have to be able to do the same – Adapt on the fly
  • When things go wrong, Amelia likes to tell herself – “There’s nothing in this, that you can’t work through”
    • Amelia often trains in a fasted state so she knows she can survive without food if need be
  • “The more you expose yourself to, the better you get”
    • This is often why younger people, even though they’re in superior physical shape, don’t often dominate these events
    • The more seasoned veterans tend to do better
    • “Success comes through the mental practice and repetition, and just knowing that you can adjust”
  • When you get overwhelmed – “All you have to do is take the next step”
    • When looking at the macro picture, we tend to get overwhelmed
    • Just focus on the next singular step
    • This is why Amelia likes to make to do lists – she loves the feeling of crossing something off
Racing Happy
  • “I start to falter when I start to run someone else’s race”
    • Trust that you know what you’re doing, and don’t worry about others
  • “It doesn’t bother me if someone else beats me on any given day. What bothers me is when I make mistakes, and I beat myself”
    • In a way, you’re really racing against yourself
  • Check out Amelia’s blog post on racing happy
  • The more you have success, the more you win, the more you want to stay successful
    • We become scared of falling from that
  • Sometimes our identity becomes wrapped up in winning
    • It’s important to step back sometimes, so we can gain perspective, that winning isn’t everything, it’s more about the journey and love of the sport
    • “Check your ego, realize it’s all a process”
  • “I think it makes me more competitive as an athlete, not to be focused so much on the end results”
    • “When people are able to step away from the end goal, as the end all be all, that’s when you start to thrive”
    • By being completely fixed on the outcome, we’ll often end up beating ourselves up if we don’t achieve it
    • “There’s great freedom in gaining the mindset, that results really don’t matter”
      • It’s a HUGE process to learn this, it doesn’t come easy
No One Owes You Anything
  • “You can’t depend on anyone in your life except you”
    • So many people feel they have a right to something
    • People will help, but you can’t expect it
  • How did Amelia come to learn this growing up?
    • She never watched much TV, her parents encouraged her to read instead
    • She got a job as soon as she was old enough to work
      • Her parents instilled in her, that if she wanted to buy something, she had to get a job and work for it
  • “People who are the most content, are the one’s who don’t have that entitlement”
How does Amelia deal with Setbacks?
  • Instead of beating yourself up, speak more kindly to yourself
  • Negative self talk
    • It’s important to realize, that often, negative self talk drives us, and often allows us to succeed
    • That doesn’t mean you have to stick with the negative self talk though, you can and should try something new
    • When anger arises, Amelia likes to say : “Thank you for what you have allowed me to do in the past, but it’s time to try something different”
    • People rarely give thanks to their anger/negative emotions, because it’s likely what’s brought them success, even if it is limiting in some ways
  • Recognize: “It’s not good or bad you’re feeling this way, it just is what it is.”
    • “This is just a feeling, it isn’t who you are”
    • Amelia credits mediation for allowing her to realize this
      • Running is also a form of meditation for Amelia
      • This is where she gets her best ideas
Habits
  • Routine is everything
    • The fewer decisions you have to make every day, the more brain power you free up
  • Amelia wakes up around 4am every day – she functions best early in the morning
    • Realize where your golden hours in the day are, and take advantage of them
    • She runs at 4am, 5 days a week
      • If it’s an off day, she’ll often use the sauna instead
      • If you find it hard to take an off day – “Do the same routine, but shove in something else”
  • What does Amelia listen to when she runs?
    • She uses an IPod Shuffle
    • It’s had the same songs on it for 5-6 years
    • “I don’t even really hear the music.” – she’ll often just repeat the same song as background noise
  • More on running
    • She’ll often do a lot of the writing in her head while running, she’ll then write the things she thinks about down after the run
    • Amelia often runs with a sharpie, and she’ll jot down ideas on her arm
What does Amelia fear?
  • At 5 years old, her parents would have said “everything”
  • Not being able to do what she loves – that’s why injuries have been so hard for her in the past
  • So many people are afraid, and driven by that fear of loss
    • “We’re all so afraid of things being taken from us”
    • Sometimes though, those loses open up space for other things in life
Reading
  • Amelia sets aside 30 minutes to an hour every night to read before bed
  • “I do my best work and reading on planes”
  • In college, Amelia decided she would try to read the 100 greatest novels of all time, so if she’s looking for a book, she tries one of these
    • She also keeps a running list of recommendations from others as a note file on her phone
    • Novels offer an opportunity for disconnecting, and allow her to turn off her type A personality for a bit
  • “There’s nothing wrong with putting down a book that feels like a slog”
    • You DON’T have to finish every book
Training
  • There was no road map for training when she began running obstacle course races – it was all through trial and error
  • Ignorance is bliss – by not knowing everything, and having no certain road map, this gives you the freedom to try many things
  • No two athletes are the same – the same training plan won’t work for everyone
Goals and Resolutions
  • Amelia tends not to set goals, but instead focuses on themes
  • Every year, she does a yearly review to see what she’s learned, and to help determine what she should focus more on over the next year
  • “The best athletes are the ones who enjoy the daily grind”
    • “Racing for me is icing on the cake. For me, the joy is found in the day to day.”
Great Quotes
  • “Every time I go out there, and am able to train, it’s an act of gratitude for me.”
  • “When people say they don’t have time, all that means is it’s not a priority”
  • On rest – “The greatest gains come from times of quietness”
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