Marathon season is fast approaching, and most of us that are signed up for a race are now doing the 18, 20, and 22-mile training runs. A lot of non-runners often ask me why I run these distances and I always explain that, to me, running is therapy. I’ve worked through countless problems while running and experienced the blissful state of meditation that somehow eludes me during other attempts. Running relaxes me, burns off my anxiety, and recharges my introvert batteries.
But I do not possess the immense brain power to sustain a therapeutic or meditative state for 26.2 goddamn miles. And this is where podcasts come in. I listen to a lot of podcasts. A lot. So many, that my doctor is convinced the eczema I’ve developed in my ears is from prolonged earbud usage. Most of the podcasts I listen to are about politics. These don’t keep well due to our crazy bananas Administration. By the time I listen to a saved episode, about 12 new developments have overshadowed the discussed topic. For this purpose, political podcasts are out. I don’t listen to any TV/movie podcasts (I read Pajiba for that, duh). So that brings me to narrative podcasts. I find that the very best podcasts for running have been those that tell a self-contained story. But not any story will do. The episode has to be so completely immersing that you lose track of the distance you’re running. Below are episodes that fit those criteria.
Fresh Air: Former FBI Agent On Decoding The Unabomber’s Writing (August 22)
This episode is straight up fascinating. Dave Davies talks to James Fitzgerald, an FBI agent that pretty much developed the science of linguistic forensics to capture Ted Kaczynski. This might be the most engrossing podcast episode I’ve ever heard.
Reply All: #104 The Case Of The Phantom Caller (September 7)
Kristy and Dustin turned me onto this podcast, and I’m so glad they did. Each episode is highly enjoyable, but this latest one was even more so. PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman investigate the origins of strange and spooky phone calls. It gets super interesting from there.
Waking Up With Sam Harris: #91 The Biology of Good and Evil (August 9)
Sam talks to Robert Sapolsky, a neuroscientist who researches stress. In this episode, they discuss the illusion of free will, along with other captivating topics, as two neuroscientists do. (Dream dinner guests, both of them.) And that brings me to…
RadioLab: Revising the Fault Line (June 27)
This is my favorite podcast, and each episode is wonderful, interesting, and beautifully produced. But this particular episode is a doozy. Jad and Robert chat with Robert Sapolsky (I might be smitten), and discuss the case of a man who became a pedophile after brain surgery. (Other notable episodes, if you haven’t heard them yet, are The Ceremony, Nukes, Elements, and Patient Zero- Updated.)
How I Built This: Patagonia Yvon Chouinard (December 11, 2016)
This is an older episode, but it’s one that I’ve come back to three times now. It talks about the start of Patagonia, but it’s truly about the founder’s philosophy about wastefulness. It’s a great example of how Capitalism and mindfulness can work in harmony.
Now it’s your turn. Give me your podcast episode recommendations. I just got back from the store with new sneaks and a bunch of GUs; all I need is something to listen to. It doesn’t have to be anything recent. Just something amazing. That’s all.
Ursula lives in Chicago and likes potatoes very much. You can follow her here.