[Running] What The World’s Most Famous Amateur Can Teach Pro Runners

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At just 30 years old, Yuki Kawauchi is in a distance running category of his own. As of January 1, he has run the most sub-2:20 marathons of anyone, ever—76. He’s also run the most sub-2:12 marathons of anyone, ever—25. Kawauchi—one guy—has run more sub-2:10 marathons since 2011 than the whole United States put together. … Rupp, like most athletes at that level, ran two marathons in 2017. Kawauchi ran 12.

The confidence that is built by doing ultra long-distance jogging, the knowledge in the second half when things are getting tough that I’ve run 50 km and 100 km so I know for sure that my stamina isn’t going to break in the second half. The internationals running next to me haven’t done 100 km so I know that my legs are the ones that are still going to keep moving when things get down and dirty

For someone who only trains once a day like I have ever since I was at Gakushuin University, I feel that adding ultra long-distance jogging trail runs on my days off has been effective in improving my physical and mental ability to hold it together in the second half of the marathon. … in my case I’m typically averaging about 600 km a month.

[Relationships] The Four Horsemen: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling

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Criticizing your partner is different than offering a critique or voicing a complaint. The latter two are about specific issues, whereas the former is an ad hominem attack. It is an attack on your partner at the core of their character. In effect, you are dismantling their whole being when you criticize.

Not necessarily terminal, but paves the way for the other horsemen.


When we communicate in this state, we are truly mean—we treat others with disrespect, mock them with sarcasm, ridicule, call them names, and mimic or use body language such as eye-rolling or scoffing. The target of contempt is made to feel despised and worthless.

Research even shows that couples that are contemptuous of each other are more likely to suffer from infectious illness (colds, the flu, etc.) than others due to weakened immune systems! Contempt is fueled by long-simmering negative thoughts about the partner—which come to a head when the perpetrator attacks the accused from a position of relative superiority.

The single greatest predictor of divorce.


Typical response to criticism.

When we feel unjustly accused, we fish for excuses and play the innocent victim so that our partner will back off. Unfortunately, this strategy is almost never successful. Our excuses just tell our partner that we don’t take their concerns seriously and that we won’t take responsibility for our mistakes


Typical response to contempt.

Rather than confronting the issues with their partner, people who stonewall can make evasive maneuvers such as tuning out, turning away, acting busy, or engaging in obsessive or distracting behaviors. … And unfortunately, stonewalling isn’t easy to stop. It is a result of feeling physiologically flooded, and when we stonewall, we may not even be in a physiological state where we can discuss things rationally.

Headlines making you anxious? Delay reading them – Oliver Burkeman

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In the Guardian, Oliver Burkeman discusses how he digests the news and the similarities with the way he manages his personal worries.

[O]ne excellent way to stay calm but well-informed, I’ve found, is to consume the news a day or three later than everyone else…

After I’d done this for a while, it struck me that it’s essentially what I’d been doing for years with especially persistent personal worries: I’d make an entry in my calendar two or three weeks from today, and resolve not to fret about the matter till then. In almost every case, by the time the date rolled around, the issue seemed absurd.

Everyone tells you to live in the moment – but there’s much to be said for putting the moment off for a few days.

I’ve been doing something similar with the news for over a year now, mostly using friends and family as a filter for urgency. It’s an idea I first picked up from Tim Ferriss in 2009: he calls it the low information diet, a technique predicated on selective ignorance.

And Jason Kottke comments:

A new car loses about 10% of its value as soon as you drive it off the lot; most news depreciates a lot faster than that. Humans are curious, hard-wired to seek out new information on a continuous basis. But not everything we haven’t seen before is worth our attention.

And what a great technique to manage worry as well!

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing – Daniel H Pink

A very fast read in the Gladwell style. Interesting, potentially actionable advice on how to make the most of time. The last chapter is particularly worth reading.

CAUTION: Probably extrapolates unjustifiably from scientific papers to general principles.


My chronotype is probably the reasonably early ‘Third Bird’ – not a Lark and not an Owl (these are relatively rare). I seem to peak around 1030-1300, have a dip in the afternoon and (sometimes) bounce back in the evenings.

Analytic tasks I should do in the early to midmorning when my brain is at its most vigilant. This is also a good time for making important decisions.

Insight tasks I should do in the late afternoon or early evening when my brain is less vigilant and therefore allows more disparate connections to come through.

When trying to make a positive impression one should always schedule for the morning.


Take loads of complete and active breaks from work, ideally outside in nature, ideally with friends.

Don’t sit for too long at a time. Perhaps split 50 minute work bursts with 15 minute breaks. Short naps of less than 25 minutes are good. Longer naps are troublesome.

Follow your chronotype, so for me: work hard in the morning, take a complete break in the afternoon, and resume for a lighter, more creative session in the evening.


Avoid a false start with a premortem: “Assume it’s 18 months from now and our project is a complete disaster. What went wrong?” Make your mistakes in advance in your head rather than in real life on a real project.

Use the calendar to make a fresh start. Everyone uses New Year’s Day and their birthday, but exploit others like the first day of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, the first day of the month, the first day of the week, family birthdays and so forth.

Sustain your morale with small wins (Karl Weick’s research). Wins needn’t be large to be meaningful. Succeed 24 hours at a time. Set up ‘high probability’ targets and celebrate their completion.


5 ways to reawaken your motivation during a midpoint slump:

  1. Set interim goals. Instead of imagining your distance from the finish line, concentrate on getting to the next mile marker.
  2. Publicly commit to these interim goals.
  3. Stop your sentence midway through – the Hemingway technique.
  4. Don’t break the chain – the Seinfeld technique.
  5. Picture one person your work will help and dedicate your day’s work to them.

When teams first get together, they often spend a lot of time getting to know each other. Progress only really kicks on at the midpoint when they realise how much time they’ve used up! So don’t panic. The first half is valuable bonding time. Teams generally become less open to new ideas as time goes on, but become more open to coaching and outside guidance.

Five ways to combat a midlife slump:

  1. Prioritise your top goals – the Buffett technique. List your 25 top goals. Then circle the 5 toppermost. Focus on them and them alone. Ignore the others completely until your first five are achieved.
  2. Develop midcareer mentors to continue guiding and supporting you.
  3. Mentally subtract positive events – the It’s A Wonderful Life technique. Begin by thinking about something positive in your life. Then list all the circumstances that made it possible. Write down all the events, circumstances and decisions that might never have happened. Imagine your life without that chain of events and without that huge positive in your life. Now return to the present and remind yourself that life did go that way. Consider the happy, beautiful randomness that brought that person or opportunity into your life. Be grateful. Minkyung Koo et al (2008)
  4. Write yourself a few paragraphs of self-compassion from the perspective of an unconditionally loving imaginary friend.
  5. Wait. Slumps are normal, but they’re also short-lived. Think of it as a cold: a nuisance, but eventually it’ll go away and when it does you’ll barely remember it.


When to quit your job: three questions. If you answer ‘no’ to two or more, think about crafting an end.

  1. Do you want to be in this job on your next work anniversary?
  2. Is your current job both demanding and in your control?
  3. Does your boss allow you to do your best work?
  4. Are you outside the 3-5 year salary bump window? Moving jobs when you’ve been at a company for 3-5 years is more likely to result in a wage increase at your next.
  5. Does your daily work align with your long-term personal goals?

Making progress is the single largest day-to-day motivator on the job. So take a moment to record your progress today. While you’re at it, write down a plan for tomorrow. And send someone a thank-you note.

Use endings to create a sense of meaning. When a project comes to an end, bring things full circle. Offer toasts to each other; write a letter to your future self and post it in 6 months’ time; make pancakes. Create an elevating final moment to remember with poignancy.

Syncing with others

  1. Sing in a choir.
  2. Run together.
  3. Join a rowing crew.
  4. Dance.
  5. Join a yoga class.
  6. Flash mob.
  7. Cook in tandem.

For groups: make sure there is a clear boss or external standard; foster a sense of belonging that enriches individual identity and deepens affiliation with the tribe; activate the uplift, feel good and do good.

“Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.”

Thinking fondly of the past is good for us. Nostalgia gives us a sense of meaning and a connection to others. It literally makes us feel warmer and more tolerant of the cold.

Thinking of the future – and feeling connected to our future selves – is also good for us. It increases the likelihood of us treating that future self well by quitting smoking or saving for a pension. Think of the future in terms of days not decades – bring that future self closer.

Thinking of the present is also good. Send your future self a time capsule of the present moment – the last three songs you listened to, an inside joke, the last social event you attended, a recent photo, etc.. People underestimate the value of rediscovering current experiences in the future – it’ll be far more meaningful than you expect.

And of course: experience awe. Awe brings people into the present moment. Time slows down, expands and it feels like we have more of it. That sensation lifts our well-being.

Taken together, all of these studies suggest that the path to a life of meaning and significance isn’t to ‘live in the present’ as so many spiritual gurus have advised. It is to integrate our perspectives on time into a coherent whole, one that helps us comprehend who we are and why we’re here.

Interview with Daniel Pink on NPR.

[Refugees] Greece’s Haven Hotel – Radio 4 Crossing Continents

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Including a short section where they go out on bikes with some kids.

In a rundown neighbourhood in Athens there is a hotel with 4,000 people on its waiting list for rooms. But the roof leaks and the lifts are permanently out of action. None of the guests pay a penny, but everyone’s supposed to help with the cooking and cleaning.

City Plaza is a seven-storey super squat housing 400 refugees from 16 different countries and the volunteers who support them.

The hotel went bankrupt during the financial crisis. It remained locked and empty until 2015, when Europe closed its borders leaving tens of thousands of refugees trapped in Greece. Then a group of activists broke in, reconnected the electricity and water and invited hundreds of migrants from the streets to take up residence with them.

The leftist Greek government has so far turned a blind eye and now mainstream NGOs like MSF and even the UNHCR have started co-operating in this illegal project. For Crossing Continents, Maria Margaronis finds out how the hotel operates and get to know the people inside.

[Waste] Be the Change in the Messed up World – Rob ​Greenfield

Rob Greenfield cycled “4,700 miles across the United States on a bamboo bicycle, using only water from natural sources, avoiding fossil fuels almost completely, supplying your few electrical needs with solar power and creating nearly zero waste”.

He’s done lots of other ‘silly’ things, like wearing all the rubbish he generated over the course of a month and travelling without spending money from Brazil to Panama.


[Fire] What I’ve learned about fire (and what fire has learned about me)

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6. You attempt to play mindgames with your fire, and therefore with yourself. (If I don’t even want you to stay alight, will you? By the time I have been upstairs and dressed myself, I really won’t mind either way. It’ll be a lovely surprise. I don’t even mind.)

8. Fire is difficult to photograph. Nevertheless, you will persist.

10. The whole world is a garden of burning. You see fallen twigs as gifts from God. You collect them in a wicker basket which you suggest to an onlooker is quaint, rather than (in their words) not big enough to be of much use. You also acquire a large, ugly bucket-like container which may or may not be called a trug. You are going to get this right and gather so much blimmin’ wood. One day you will wake up and it will be seasoned.

Via Yvonne

[Roads] Road dieting – Kottke

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A street in Oakland recently underwent a road diet: two of five lanes were converted into protected bike lanes. The result is an increase in biking and pedestrian use, a decrease in collisions, a decrease in speeding, and an increase in business along the street.

Road dieting seems to be happening a reasonable amount in London at the moment, particularly around the improved Cycle Superhighways.

Braess’ paradox or Braess’s paradox is a proposed explanation for a seeming improvement to a road network being able to impede traffic through it. It was discovered in 1968 by mathematician Dietrich Braess, who noticed that adding a road to a congested road traffic network could increase overall journey time, and it has been used to explain instances of improved traffic flow when existing major roads are closed.