The RunRunLive 4.0 Podcast Episode 4-447 – Mental Health in Lockdown – Dr. Sarb

 (Audio: link) audio:]
Link epi4447.mp3

MarathonBQ – How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon in 14 Weeks -


Hello and welcome to episode 4-447 of the RunRunLive podcast.   Here we are, the middle of January and I’ve got a lot to talk about today.  Which is good, because one of the things that bothers me about house arrest is that I don’t get enough experiential input.  I’m not out traveling and running races so I have less input, less to talk about. 

I had to take a week off from running last week.  I managed to give myself an infected toe.  I’ll talk about that in Section One.  It’s better now and I went out for an hour in the trails yesterday.  It seems to be ok.  I’m a week into a course of antibiotics and that seems to have cleared it up. 

The good news is that I’m not going to die a slow painful death from gangrene.  The bad news is that I lost a week of training and I had to take a course of antibiotics.  I don’t like taking antibiotics.  IT wipes out all the helpful and friendly bacteria in your body as well as the cantankerous buggers living in your cuticles. 

The antibiotics mess up my digestion, especially with my diet that includes a lot of roughage.  It basically gives me the digestive system of a Canadian goose.  It also compounds the dry skin I get this time of year.  I think in general we underestimate all the helpful things that a community of symbiotic bacteria do for you. 

Today we’re going to talk to Dr. Sarb. I’ve ‘known’ Dr. Sarb for many years from the online running community. He’s a New Zeeland based psychologist and is just now putting out a book about how to survive the Covid.  I had some tech problems and had to cut him short so I had him send me a preamble which I’ll stick on the front of the interview. 

By the way why is it called New Zeeland?  Doesn’t that imply an Old Zeeland? Isn’t this a British colony? Zeeland isn’t very British. 

In fact the is an old Zeeland and it’s north of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.  The first people to ‘discover’ what would become New Zeeland were Dutch.  Specifically a dude named Abel Tasman.  Yup, that’s how you get Tasmania.  At the time he thought he had run into Argentina.  His GPS must not have been charged. 

Anyhow, subsequently the Dutch thought, hey, this place is made up of islands like Zeeland, which in old Dutch means “Sea Land” and so you have New Zeeland. 


In section two I’ll talk about living life like it’s improvisational art. 

At the risk of being the crazy old etymologist, I want you to think about the word ‘compassion’.  It’s a good old Latin word.  The first bit means ‘with’ the second bit means ‘suffering’.  Having compassion means the ability to understand and feel another’s pain and suffering. 

“With Suffering”.  At this point most writers will go off on a screed about how you have to suffer for what you want.  How passion is the ability to suffer for a goal. 

I’m not going to do that, although it’s a great screed.  Very biblical.  Has the smell of ancient empires and codes of honor to it.  Unsurprising it’s Roman in origin. 

I’m going to talk about having compassion for someone else.  Understanding and appreciating someone else’s suffering.   If you think about anyone you know, live with or work with – to some extent they are all suffering.  Whether they show it or not. 

And the ones that are suffering the most are the one’s that are the hardest to have empathy for.  Because they are typically externalizing that suffering in ways that are negative. 

It doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. It doesn’t mean you have to like them.  It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be held accountable.  It means you understand their suffering. 

This is important because people who are suffering tend to externalize that suffering.  They lash out.  They act out. 

It is in our nature to suffer.  It is in our nature to be passionate.  It makes us human. 

Passion by it’s nature is irreconcilable with the norm.  Passionate people are outliers in one way or another. 

If you can bring yourself to look for the suffering behind another’s actions it will help you understand them.  It will help your own suffering because it will allow you to understand.  Understanding converts emotion to reason. 

And with that reason you are in a better position to deal with those who are suffering. 

But compassion also means celebrating those who are achieving happiness.  It is part of empathy and growth. 

When was the last time you told someone you were happy for them? Try saying this in a moment of contemplation while visualizing someone you know who has achieved something that has made them happy.

Because that empathy for others happiness begets joy in yourself.

Now try saying this: "May I have appreciation for my own joy. May my happiness grow." And notice how that makes you feel and how the two are intertwined. 

On with the show!

About Zero

ZERO — The End of Prostate Cancer is the leading national nonprofit with the mission to end prostate cancer. ZERO advances research, improves the lives of men and families, and inspires action.

Link to my ZERO page: (for Donations)

I’ll remind you that the RunRunLive podcast is ad free and listener supported.  What does that mean? It means you don’t have to listen to me trying to sound sincere about or Audible.. (although, fyi, my MarathonBQ book is on audible) We do have a membership option where you can become a member and as a special thank you, you will get access to member’s only audio. There are book reviews, odd philosophical thoughts, zombie stories and I curate old episodes for you to listen to.  I recently added that guy who cut off is foot so he could keep training and my first call with Geoff Galloway.   “Curated” means I add some introductory comments and edit them up a bit.  So anyhow – become a member so I can keep paying my bills.


The RunRunLive podcast is Ad Free and listener supported. 

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Section one – The infected Toe -


Voices of reason – the conversation

Dr. Sarb Johal  – Mental Health in Covid


I’m Dr Sarb Johal.

I’m a clinical psychologist, consultant, speaker, and media commentator with an insatiable curiosity about this human experience.


Over my 30-year career in psychology, I’ve been privileged to work alongside many brilliant minds producing phenomenal psychological research into the way our brains work.


The problem is that very little of this incredible work filters down in a useful way to the people it could really help. Ordinary people trying to sustain relationships, bring up kids, hold down a job, lead a team or an organisation, make a contribution and generally do life well. In other words, all of us.


Until now.

Through my videos, podcasts, consulting and speaking, I uncover and interpret the latest psychological research from experts around the globe, transforming complex concepts into useful insights that help individuals, leaders and organisations navigate this ever-changing world.


Section two – Life as Improv -



Ok my friends we have holed up in our home offices for almost an entire year, and most certainly,  through the end of Episode 4-447 of the RunRunLive Podcast.  

I’ve got a couple stories for you to take you out, but first remember to go listen to my new podcast the apocalypse serial “After the Apocalypse”.  Like it, write a review, forward it to your friends and share it on social, please. 

It was a busy week back at work.  This seemed to be the week when everyone showed back up from vacation looking to get stuff done. Since I wasn’t running it was weirdly ok because I had one less thing to do.  I’ve been at this new job for a year now, so I guess I have to stop calling it a new job.  I’m grateful to have made the decision to move back into a bigger company. 

Doesn’t’ look like we’ll be getting out of lock down any time soon.  I’m eyeballing a April event but not sure I’ll want to get on a plane and not sure I’ll be able to visit the home office.  I’m also feeling a weird “maybe I don’t have what it takes to run an ultra anymore” feeling.  I only made it through a  week of heavier training before I broke myself this time.

I guess I’m feeling a bit mortal which isn’t a great feeling.  Maybe it has something to do with the psychology of the Apocalypse. 

Ironically my new pair of Hokas showed up the same day I had to go to the clinic for the infected toe.  I down graded to the Challenger ATR’s from the SpeedGoat’s. I just can’t stomach paying $180 for a pair of shoes.  These new Challengers seem much lighter than the older versions.  The outsole seems stiffer too.  And of course the toe-box is a bit roomier!

I did end up partially breaking those $30 UBI Bluetooth headphones.  I say partially, because the left ear still works, which is actually ok for podcasts.  Might be a million dollar idea there folks – make an athletic version of those single ear-piece Bluetooth headphones. 

Let me take you out with a home-office story.  And it might be a little unsettling for those of you with an aversion to rodents.  So there are mousetraps involved, if that’s triggering for you, you might want to skip ahead. 

One of the mornings this week I carry my coffee and avocado toast up to my office to read the news on my computer, like I do most mornings.  I notice, what I think are sesame seeds from the toast on the pad in front of the keyboard.  And I almost drop them into my avocado, before I realize they are mouse turds. 

It’s been a low-mouse invasion year because we got the new garage doors in December.  But I left them open last weekend whilst clearing snow.  (how many people do you know that use the word ‘Whilst’?)

Anyhow, I think “crap, there’s a mouse living in my office crawling around on my desk eating my breakfast crumbs. 

So, I set a couple traps along the baseboard and kept my day going.

Then my big-boss calls, can you be on this call in 15 minutes where the corporate blah, blah, is talking about blah, blah.  OK, I can do that, luckily I’m showered and dressed at this point. 

So I’m at my stand up desk, on the video call, acting like I have some sort of intelligence, knowledge and authority – when ‘Snap!’ the trap goes off about a foot and a half from where I’m standing.  But, it doesn’t kill the mouse right away. 

So, I’m stuck talking to these people on this video call while the mouse is thrashing about on the floor next to me.   They never knew. 

Say what you want about this remote work, it comes with new experiences. 

I think the biggest challenge of extended home arrest is the sameness of it.  The ground-hog day nature of it.  But that can be comforting too.   It can lead you to feel uninspired and pointless.  And when that happens I think we just have to keep moving.  Like Dr. Sarb suggests you have to make up rules that simplify things for your over-taxed brain. 

One I’ve found useful is to commit blocks of time.  30 minutes is a good block of time when you’re having trouble focusing.  Shift the focus from, “I need to do this thing” to I’m going to work on this one task for 30 minutes non-stop.  The old Pomadoro Method.  Adds structure. 

I’ve rejoined Twitter after a few years away.  As always I’m cyktrussell.  I’ve got about 13,000 followers.  I tweet about running stuff.  I retweet from the back-catalogue of 1,000 plus articles I’ve written on my website  I mostly make snide comments and tweet Grateful Dead Lyrics. 

Follow me and we’ll exchange snark.

Ok my friends, whether you feel like a Rockstar or the mouse, let’s make 2021 the best year yet by showing up and doing the work and bringing the joy.

And, hopefully,  I will see you out there.

MarathonBQ – How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon in 14 Weeks -


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Direct download: epi4447.mp3
Category:Running -- posted at: 8:47pm EDT





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