ep183-evan-perperis

Ep183: Pushing Yourself to Your Limits (When Quitting isn’t an Option) | with Evan Perperis

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Evan “Ultra-OCR Man” Perperis is an active duty Army Special Forces Soldier with 44 months of combat deployments who is now a professional Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) athlete. He is best known for running insane multi-day, self-created (!!!) OCR endurance challenges to raise money for charity (and push him to his physical & mental limits). If you want to know what it really takes to overcome obstacles (or hundreds of them in a row), whether it’s out on a legit race course or just the everyday obstacles you encounter in life, Evan has the answers.

What’s interesting is that Evan hasn’t always been the overachiever and ultra-extreme athlete that he is now. In fact, he describes himself as a clone of the main character in the Goldbergs, the stereotypical nerdy teen who was in high school musicals and not at all athletic. But when he joined the military, he knew he had to get himself in shape, and that became the first of many more obstacles to conquer and defeat. So it just goes to show that you can’t judge a book by its cover…especially someone who could rip that book in half with his bare hands.

Evan’s simple, no-nonsense approach to extreme OCR racing very simply translates to practical mindsets you too can apply to any obstacle you encounter in life (and if there’s one thing life is throwing at all of us right now, it’s a lot of obstacles). Whether it’s simply getting into better physical shape so you have more mental & creative energy to kick ass at your job or training for your very first Spartan Race or Tough Mudder, the advice Evan shares in our conversation today is invaluable to anyone trying to level up their fitness goals, their career, or their entire life.

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Here’s What You’ll Learn:

  • What drives Evan to do the crazy endurance events that he does
  • The power he found in being outside of his comfort zone
  • When personal development becomes an addiction as dangerous as any other
  • How to balance family life with career and work obligations, including training for races
  • Why racing for charity is so important to Evan
  • Hear how Evan transformed from nerdy musical kid to Ultra OCR guy
  • The mindsets that Evan finds essential for reaching his goals
  • The eerily similar American Ninja Warrior failures that I share with Evan
  • Managing the disappointment of unmet expectations
  • How to reframe failure to continue persevering
  • The incredible impact the OCR community has had on his life
  • The double edged sword of the “never say quit” mentality
  • Finding meaning in the combat losses he’s endured
  • Advice Evan offers anyone looking to do their first obstacle course race HINT: Don’t wait until you ‘get into shape’


Useful Resources Mentioned:

David Goggin

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Episode Transcript

Zack Arnold

My guest today is Evan "Ultra-OCR Man" Perperis who was an active duty Army Special Forces soldier who has 44 months of combat deployments, who is now a professional obstacle course racing or is referred to at the rest of the show an OCR athlete. He is best known for running insane, multi-day, self-created OCR endurance challenges to raise money for charity and also push himself beyond his physical and mental limits. If you want to know what it really takes to overcome obstacles, or frankly hundreds of them in a row, whether it's out on a legit race course or just the everyday obstacles that you encounter in life, Evan has the answers. What's really interesting is that Evan hasn't always been the overachiever and the ultra extreme athlete that he is now. In fact, he describes himself as a clone of the main character in The Goldbergs of all shows the stereotypical nerdy teen who was in high school musicals, and was not at all athletic. But when Evan joined the military, he knew that he had to get himself in shape, and that became the first of many more obstacles to conquer and defeat in his life. So it just goes to show that you can't judge a book by its cover, especially somebody who could rip that book in half with his bare hands. Evan's simple, no nonsense approach to extreme OCR racing very simply translates to practical mindsets that you too can apply to any obstacle that you encounter in your life. And if there's one thing that life is throwing at us incessantly right now, it is lots of obstacles, whether it's simply getting in a better physical shape, so you have more mental and creative energy to kick ass at your job, or you're actually training for your very first Spartan Race or Tough Mudder. The advice that Evan shares in our conversation today is invaluable to anybody that is trying to level up their fitness goals, their career or even their entire life. All right, without further ado, my conversation with special Armed Forces soldier and OCR athlete, Evan Perperis. To access the show notes for this episode with all the bonus links and resources discussed today, as well as to subscribe, leave a review and more, simply visit optimizeyourself.me/episode183. I'm here today with Evan "Ultra-OCR Man" Perperis who was an active duty Army Special Forces soldier with 44 months of combat deployments, you are also a professional obstacle course racing athlete or as we're going to refer to it today, OCR, you are a mainstay of the OCR industry. You've got over 70 podiums, you've written 350 plus articles, seven books. And you're also best known for self creating multi-day endurance OCR challenges to raise money for charity. Just one very small example includes running on a treadmill for 24 hours. And that's one of the less crazy ones. And lastly, as we will discuss a little bit later on, you and I are also fellow two-time American Ninja Warriors. And we're going to talk more about that specifically the journeys that include a lot of failure along the way. So on that note, Evan, such a pleasure to have you on the microphone today. Thanks for being here.

Evan Perperis

Yeah. Thanks for having me, Zack, looking forward to so

Zack Arnold

I've I've talked to a multitude of people over the years that do extreme crazy things, whether it's I'm going to run on a treadmill for 24 hours, or I'm going to decide, you know, what, just for the heck of it. What if I did 200 miles over eight days and force myself to do hundreds of obstacles? Not because it's a competition, I'm not going to win emails, it's just me and buddies and cameras. And it always comes down to the same question that most people if not everybody has, why? Why would you ever put yourself through all of these things? So let's just start right with the deepest question. Why do you do all of these things?

Evan Perperis

You know, it's a multifaceted answer. So for endurance sports is largely a selfish endeavor, right? So I'm going out in training and spending a lot of time, on roads, on trails, and stuff like that, which means I'm not spending time with my family. So one of the ways I tried to give back is do charity work. And then specifically, by creating these challenges that are very hard, and I like finding where that personal limit is because I really feel like you grow when you really get far outside of your comfort zone, whether it's something short, like a 5k or something, you know, I've just been doing endurance sports for 20 plus years at this point. And it you know, you constantly be like, well, what if I ran this far and it feels this good, maybe we're in a little bit farther would feel a little bit better and a little bit better and say like, you look at me now and kind of the where I am. And it's been a it's been a long process. Like I didn't start out like, let's run 100 miles, this is a good idea. I started out like, I'm going to run the army 10 miler, and that is crazy. Like, that is absolutely insane. No one runs 10 miles. And now I run 10 miles on like a Tuesday and it's, I don't post about it because it's irrelevant, cuz I do it all the time. One providing personal limits is just kind of something I enjoy. I feel like you've learned a lot about yourself in those really dark moments. And then to again, with it being a selfish kind of endeavor. I like to find a way to give back.

Zack Arnold

Yeah, well, I've certainly been on myself in the personal development quest, that it can be very, very addicting very quickly, usually in the best ways possible. Not always. But in general, it's very addicting, when you start to realize and discover, wait a second, I can do a lot more than I thought I could. And it's not a matter of, hey, I thought that I was just lazy and out of shape. And I had a dad, but I just ran a 5k. Great. It's not that you don't end there. You're like, I wonder if I could run a 10k. I wonder if I could run a half marathon, right? It just it kind of keeps stacking up, which is both the good side and the dark side of it. Because I know that for a lot of people, personal development can just become another addiction, where it's like, wow, I've done this now I must accomplish that. So I'm curious, like you said that one of the things that all of this takes you away from is your family. So how do you balance the good and the bad of putting in so many hours in endurance sports, knowing it helps you become a better person, but it also takes you away from the most important people in your life.

Evan Perperis

So I tried to take my family on pretty much every race weekend. So a lot of times we'll go, we'll spend the weekend I'll run the race in the morning, or maybe it's a several hour race, we'll spend all day and then you know, in the afternoon, we'll go to Museum and we'll go to the zoo, stuff like that. There's usually a kid's course on a lot of these venues. So my daughter's now seven and my son's three. So my daughter's usually old enough to get on to the kids course. So she gets to run on her own. And sometimes we kind of like carry my son along off to the side too. So you get some family bonding time, both in the car, at the venue, and then most importantly, after. So those are my favorite parts of the weekends. Actually, it's like you get that feeling of accomplishment. And then I get to spend the rest of the weekend with my family doing fun things eating at different restaurants and stuff like that.

Zack Arnold

Now, one thing that I can give you a little bit of heads up on is that when my kids were three and six, and yours are three and seven, same thing, they love doing the little Spartan juniors, or the Tough Mudder juniors, now they're 10 and 12. I don't want to go and get muddy and wet and whatever it it's a much bigger challenge. It's actually a lot harder than the race, just getting them to show up and cheer you on. And they're like, you don't want to do good stuff anymore. So, you know, hopefully, that's not going to be in your future. But I know that that's something that I have dealt with more than once in the past. I want to go back a little bit more to the origin story. Because I know that not only are you a guy that just woke up one day and said, Yeah, I want to do all this OCR stuff and run lots of miles and obstacles, but you come from the world of the military. And I would assume that that has a lot of influence on a lot of the mindset and the decision to spend your hours and days and weeks doing all these things that are really challenging for a good purpose. So walk me back to originally going into the military and kind of what the circumstances were there. And what the journey was that brought you to eventually becoming who Evan is now.

Evan Perperis

So if we go way back back in like high school, I was best known for drama productions and musicals. So not the athlete,

Zack Arnold

I wouldn't have guessed that.

Evan Perperis

I did run I wasn't I wasn't a lot of musicals a lot. A lot of drama productions. Yeah, I think I was voted most likely to get abducted by a UFO and most unique and my superlatives when I was a senior. So it's a weird kid, like he used to carry around a lunchbox, if you've ever seen the TV show that The Goldbergs on ABC, I'm like a clone of the main character atom. It's like scary. But I was in Boy Scouts, also at the time, and a lot of the older boys weren't in the military. So that's the kind of the route I pursued. went to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and ended up program called ROTC essentially, it's just normal college, except one of my classes a week is army. And then I, the group I fell into there was very, like, motivated to do Combat Arms type stuff. So they were like, Oh, if you're gonna go into the military, why are you going to be a medical profession and you know, the Army has jobs for literally everything. But the group I fell into just happened to be like, you know, if you're gonna go into the army, do something that you can't do in the civilian world. So that led me to kind of lean towards infantry, I ended up not going to end up going full artillery, but I ended up going, you know, trying to pursue a career in special forces. And in order to get good at Special Forces, you need to be physically fit. And I figured, if I could do the hardest challenges that were offered to civilians, then I shouldn't be have a higher chance of success when I try out for special forces. So that's really how it started. I was trying to get ready for military schools. And it just turned into this like slippery slope, like we're talking about at the beginning, you know, where it's like, oh, if I can do this, what about this? What about this, and you just kind of slide down there. And before I know it, I ended up passing selection and getting in special forces. And then, you know, now my, as my military career kind of tapers off, I've got two years left before I can retire. The insurance career has taken off and that's kind of almost more my priority. And you know, when we talk about mindset specifically related from military into endurance racing you know, if you're if you're going out in combat in Iraq, or you know, in someone starts a firefight, you can't be like, well, you know, I'm just not feeling it today. Why don't we come back into the firefight again, tomorrow, like let's just let's just call a timeout right? So that mindset which I got instilled in me from Special Forces and from my my peers in the military, I just finished easily take it over to racing and right so there are days when I show up to a race. And it's like, you know what, I do not feel well, or, you know, today's not my day, it's like, well, I have three options, I can speed up, I can slow down, or I can maintain the same pace. Either way, I'm out here until the either the distance or the time is over, because some of our races are time based or not distance based, you know, and I've, I was going to a six hour race in Little Rock once threw up in the car on the way down, threw up a car again, in the car on the way down, slept for 12 hours. I was like, Hell Haven cold sweats all night. And I woke up the next morning for a six hour race. And I was like, You're not running are you? And I was like, we'll find out when we get to the start line. And I did, I ran it. Like, I felt terrible, the first lap and then it like, cleared out of my system. And I won the won the race. And yeah, but like, you know, you can always find a good excuse to not to quit or find an excuse not to do something, you know, it's really hard to find an excuse to continue to persevere,

Zack Arnold

I know that what can be a very common story for people that come from the military, you're still active duty in the military, and like you said, tapering off to retiring. But specifically, I've heard many stories about people that were in the military for a short period of time, and they're, their duty is over. And they're discharged. And all of a sudden, they have civilian life. And it's just like living in a foreign world. And a lot of them end up taking up these extreme types of challenges and events, because it almost feels like something is missing from their former life. And even though you're kind of still you have, you know, a toe in both pools so to speak, do you find that some of the reason you gravitate towards a lot of these races is just because that's kind of become a part of who you are?

Evan Perperis

Yeah, 100%. So as you know, as the longer in the military, the farther away from the frontlines you get. So you end up sitting behind a desk. So I mostly sit behind a desk, I got a lot of cool pictures from the last like 15 or so years, where like, I'm doing all this cool stuff, like, almost none of those are current, you know, I sit behind a desk and send emails to people most of the day. So yeah, as as my career kind of tapered off, and they started putting me more behind the desk, you know, that part of me was definitely missing, right? Like I miss being pushed to the limits. I missed those challenges. I missed that feeling of accomplishment. And you miss some of that camaraderie. Right. So the the bonds you develop with the guys from deployment are super tight, right? Like I still take some of those guys. And you know that it definitely filled fill the piece that was missing from kind of my my career tapering off. Yeah.

Zack Arnold

Yeah. And for me, personally, that was one of the most important, if not the most important thing that I've gotten out of obstacle course racing, I don't have the background that you do. I didn't come from the military. I was kind of sort of quasi athletic in high school in college, but nothing to really speak of, and then enter the professional world, and basically sat behind a desk for 16 hours a day and work long hours. So there's, there's nothing driving me to do this thing. Until basically my sister said, Hey, we should do this crazy thing called the tough modern liar. Okay, whatever. And it put the fear of God in me enough to do p90x and get myself in shape. So I thought, Alright, I'm going to try this thing once. And I'm gonna prove that I'm tougher than my sister because we're very competitive. That's all it was about. I just need to not embarrass myself in front of my sister who's 15 years older than me and has run marathons. And like out, now I got, I can't say no, that's all it was about. And then as soon as I ran my first Tough Mudder, it was just a complete game changer. Because I am by, you know, self diagnosis, an extreme introvert. I could spend the entire life in the mountains by myself, and I'd be fine. If I didn't have that family. It's different when you got a family. But I'd be fine being, you know, living the monastic life. So I had a lot of social anxiety. And as soon as I was at the tough Mater, it wasn't just a matter of you can kind of slowly sidle up to people. It's like, here's this complete stranger that's touching my ass that's pushing me over a wall. And then I'm doing the same thing for them. And it's just like the most intimate experience. But you all have the same common goal. So that to me, that camaraderie was so important. And I would assume that this very, very similar on a lesser scale to what you experienced in the military.

Evan Perperis

Yeah, no, absolutely. And Tough Mudder is a great brand for kind of, like bring people in, like you're saying, there's, there's literally people all shapes and sizes there. And you know, they have, they've expanded their lineup of events, they have 5k 10k 15k, they have 12 hour and 24 Hour, which I know sounds absolutely crazy to a lot of listeners. But you would be surprised at the people that are out there for the 12 and 24 hour, and some of them will run, they'll run five miles, they'll go sit down for a couple hours, run five miles go sit down for a couple hours, but they still go out there and they like find their personal limits. Where do you run 90 Miles event like I do for the 24 or you run, you know, 20 miles or 25 miles, you feel like you found a personal limit? You you share that common experience of kind of suffering, regardless of the vast differences in physical capability. So it's really, really a great community. And you'll see people out on the course helping people at those 12 and 24 hour ones that are like their whole race is they just go and they set an obstacle and put booths people over. It's like insane.

Zack Arnold

Yeah, and I found that that's actually one of the things that I enjoy the most now the last race that I did the last Tough Mudder Um, that I basically went because Sean Corvelle made me. So Chandra is a recent guest on the podcast, we'll put a link to that episode. But when I was recording with him, he's like, I'm gonna see it and, you know, LA on Saturday and like, what is it? Yeah, there's a Tough Mudder you better be there like, Okay, fine. It's like I'm handing you the microphone. And he ended up handing me the microphone, and I did his motivational speech totally price you on the fly. But I wasn't in a state of mind at that race where it was, I'm going to be my best. And I'm going to run and I'm going to do every single obstacle perfectly, it was more a matter of Well, I'm here, I'm not going to not do it. I was in a really bad place, as far as totally burned out from where I was finishing up a really big job. So I thought, What if I just make today about helping other people and the person I ran the race with, we just did that. We just hung out in an obstacle and help people over the wall or under the fence or whatever it was, it's probably the best race I've ever had. Because what I love is seeing that look on somebody's face when they say they can't do something. And then all of a sudden, they're like, oh, wait, I just did the thing that I said I couldn't do two minutes ago. So I would imagine you've seen many, many experiences for these first time racers, where you just see that light switch go off in their in their eyes.

Evan Perperis

Yeah, absolutely. 100% You know, the, your, if you just go hang out an obstacle, any obstacle that you'll see people, it doesn't have to be hard to you. But you'll see people come up and they'll be like, No, I absolutely know you, you know their friends, or you maybe some strangers talk them into it and help them over. And yeah, it's such a such a good feeling of accomplishment, it's great to see that smile come across their face. And sidenote, I was also at LA. So it appears we've been like following each other around for like two years or more.

Zack Arnold

It's crazy how that works, isn't it how small this world is, which actually is the perfect segue to what I wanted to mention next. We've been talking all about accolades, success stories, all the things that you've accomplished. Now you and I are going to talk a little bit about failure. Yeah. And we're going to talk about a little sport called American Ninja Warrior. So when what I just found out yesterday, I was telling you this offline beforehand, I didn't even realize this. And we originally scheduled this interview, I didn't put face to the name. And I, my producer, she had sent me a link to your your short documentaries to get 22 minutes short, we're gonna link to it. If it's public, I want to make sure everybody watches it. And we'll talk more about the subject matter of it later. But the point being that five seconds in your face pops up. I'm like, wait a second is that guy. And what I meant by that was the last two seasons, or the first two seasons that I've been on American Ninja Warrior, you and I ran the exact same day within hours of each other. And we have almost exactly the same story. So for this guy that is run 1000s and 1000s of miles and literally done 1000s of obstacles, you do this professionally. I want you to tell your story from your perspective of season one of American Ninja Warrior.

Evan Perperis

Yeah, so I get picked for American Ninja Warrior do like a year I basically stopped running. So I'm like, Alright, this is like, this could be a big break. Right? So like, pour all my energy into training, right? So met the gym every week, or every, you know, couple times a week and really kind of getting ready. And, you know, big spiel, you fly out there, you show up to the start line. And I I'm not sure if I have the shortest run in Ninja history. But I might, I might have it because I stepped on the first step and my foot just hit it in a weird angle. And I bounced like face first off the second step and brighten to the water. Like I'm seriously I was on the course for probably like point, oh, five seconds. And, you know, again, just so much effort and time. And like you have all these people messaging you right. And I do all this crazy stuff online. And, you know, it gets some reaction from people. But I've never gotten quite the reaction I got when I was like, Hey, I'm gonna be on Ninja Warrior. And I wasn't expecting people to go nuts. And people were messaging me from out of the woodwork, right, like people from high school and college. It's like, Do you know who I am still? Yeah, and it was just a complete disaster. And it was furlough about 48 hours. I was like, I was like, just devastated. Right. I mean, you're, again, so much effort and time and you just ended so quickly. And then I, you know, I started thinking about, like, you know what, at least I had the experience, at least I got a chance to run. I'll be a very briefly and you know, you can't you can't achieve success if you don't if you don't try, right. So like, I'll try again next year. I'll put in an application if I get picked great. And the same thing happens all well. At least I got off again. Right. And yeah, so it was a it was heartbreaking at first. But you know, at the end of the day, it was like well, the worst thing that happened to me in 2021 was falling after like less than a second on Ninja Warrior then I'm doing alright in life.

Zack Arnold

Alright, so now I really have to ask you how in the world did you get over that in 48 hours? Because I'm at 13 months and I'm still not over mine

Evan Perperis

you know, it's um, I feel like I've failed a lot of stuff and a lot of stuff in life. And I also have a lot of things lined up. So if I if I focus on something in the past, I'm going to miss essentially the next target. Right so I mean, I was back to running races. Like, within, I think two weeks of that event, right? So like, I was like, alright, well, now I gotta focus on the next thing, you know, and I had, I was working on another book at a time. So I had to work on that I still producing podcasts or writing articles, right, so I just had all of these other, you know, irons in the fire that I had to focus on. So it really, it was almost like, distraction, I basically distracted myself out of the problem. And you know, it's still, it's still painful, like, and it shouldn't be right, because it's important to me. And if it's not painful, then it's, it's probably not important to you. But you know, I, I bounced back and didn't talk about it for a while. And, you know, I bring it up occasionally when people ask about or if they want to know, like examples of failure, because I think, you know, the appearance of success is often people that just didn't give up, right? So in order to get anywhere you need to, you need to be willing to fail a lot. And you know, occasionally, you need to look stupid, and I happen to my worst athletic performance happens to be on live TV. And don't worry, you guys showed it and repeatedly, and then in slow motion again. So in case you missed it, the first time I fell, it was like and

Zack Arnold

I remember I specifically watched that episode, because it was would have been the episode I would have have been in as well. But I was cut from the show. Because technically, I got farther, I got all the way to the platform. And then my toe missed a little edge. And I ended up getting wet. So I didn't make it through the end of the first obstacle either. But I made it to the very, very, very, very, very, very, very end of it. And I remember at the because yours was like in the wrap up. It was like it wasn't one of the Bajo BIA moments, I think at the very end of that episode, or it was like an ovary wide package. It wasn't like they gave you the full feature. And then they had you run from what I remember unless they did Am I remembering that incorrectly.

Evan Perperis

It's to be honest with you. I've never watched the full episode it was it's not a memory I wanted to I watched Of course once just to be like, just I wanted to see what happened because my memory actually didn't quite match what the video showed was just kind of interesting, because I thought I knew exactly what happened and watched the videos. Like that's not what I thought happened. But I have not watched the full episode now.

Zack Arnold

Yeah. So the point being that when I saw that, I was like, oh, boy, do I know what that guy feels like? Yeah, like, especially given that we have I mean, we don't have a similar background and OCR because you're like an elite athlete. And I'm a weekend warrior. There's still like 20 races, like, No, you do 20 races a week. So there's not but the the idea that I understand the translation between OCR and Ninja, I was like, Man, that sucks. Because I know how hard and tough you need to be just to get through a Spartan beast and to a Spartan beast as like a warm up for the day. I know what it takes to get through that. And I also know what you have to go through to get on the show, to travel to the dome to sit around all day long to go through all the hoops. And then you get your five seconds. And for that to happen. It's just it's absolutely heartbreaking. And somebody that hasn't gone through it can't empathize with it enough. So what you also don't know is that when you ran the second year, and you got through the first obstacle, I was like jumping up and down cheering because I'm like, Yes, he finally got it. So what happened after that, because by the time people listen to this, the the episode will have aired.

Evan Perperis

Yeah, so the the next obstacle was a basically a sliding Lashay. So you get on a bar and you slide and then you kind of let go and go for the next bar. And you know, based off watching other people, you know, I was like, Alright, well I gotta commit to it. So I committed and my kind of went up a little more than out, which means I fell a little bit short of that bar. So again, not a not like something I'm super proud of. But you know, I got back up after falling on the first year and try it again. And when I got to the second obstacle I committed to it. So I was proud that I I liked I fell center and I went for it. I just missed and, you know, an obstacle course racing, a lot of our movements are very static, right. So I grabbed I'm still holding the last hole when I grabbed the next hold, as you know, and some of our listeners may or may not know. And ninja everything's very dynamic. So everything's, you almost you let go of the bar completely you send yourself there will be big movements. So they're not. There's a lot of crossover, but it's not one to one. So yeah, I just missed the bar. And I I'm actually surprised they didn't show me because I went down Mike my whole back was red. I basically belly flopped onto my back, I got a picture. I'll post it online once the episode airs, but my my whole back is red. So I just sent it and missed. It was just a much better experience. We know that first year was with COVID. And as you know, you're basically like, in a bubble, you ran back into your bubble. So it was it was not as much fun this year. I got to stand on the sidelines for people I got to cheer for other ninjas. I got to sit in the audience. And it was just a lot more social with COVID restrictions, like a lot looser. So there was overall I just had a much better experience and I left in a much better place even though my run was marginally more successful.

Zack Arnold

Yeah, well one thing that I found when you talk about the translation between OCR and Ninja which I then want to kind of extrapolate into the real world because obviously very few people I would guess maybe there's one person listening this legitimately thinking I need a tip because I'm going to be on American Ninja Warrior on the starting line and how do I translate OCR to this Right, everybody else's is metaphorical. For the one or two people, this is going to be real advice. But what I've learned from having done OCR and Ninja is that Ninja is designed to make you fail. Oh, they spend hours and hours and hours and days and weeks designing obstacles where they know almost to the percentage, here's how many people will succeed and how many people will fail. And it's like, if we just moved the bar an extra inch, we can get a 10% higher failure rate, because that's really good TV. And I feel like that with OCR, everything is designed such that if you're strong enough, you can succeed, it's not designed so you can fail, it's hard. Like if you're going to do the gauntlet, or you're going to do the multi rig that has the rings and has the ropes and the bar, that stuff is hard. But if you have the strength and you build up to it, you can absolutely succeed. They're not trying to trick you. And for me, I got in the mindset that if I just do ropes, and I do like Ninja training and endurance grip, and whatnot, well, that gets me ready for it, not realizing what all those things were designed to make me stronger. And to succeed. Ninja wants me to fail, because that's the way the show is designed is you want to root for the very few people that can make it through. But like what people don't realize is on TV, you're only seeing give or take maybe 40% of the rights. And the other 60% all failed way worse than the ones you saw on TV.

Evan Perperis

I was I say I've at the end of the day, you know, I mean, we're on we are the first 13 seasons have aired already. And we've had essentially like two people make it to the end, right. So like, that means, you know, 99.999% have failed. And even even if they made it really far and failed, those athletes, their expectations of themselves are higher. So they still take it hard. I guarantee it. Right. Like, even if they make it to the all the way to like stage three, right, and they fail on something. They're they're beating themselves up over it, you know, so

Zack Arnold

yeah, and that's something that I found as well is that one of the people that I trained with on a regular basis now is Jessie Graff. And I was talking talking to her about how I felt after the first run. Like she was the first phone call. Like after I felt like right after the run called her up like, you know what happened, you saw the video, like I you know, again, very similar situation as yours where my memory was different than the actual tape, just because I think that with the lights and the adrenaline like, it's so hard to just be present in the moment that you're almost in like automaticity mode. And I remember at least the first year I was like, when did I get in the water? How did this even happen? If you paid me a million dollars, I could not tell you what just happened. Second year was a different experience. But the point being that when she would describe how she fell on like stage two in Vegas, or whatever, same guilt and same feelings of failure, and it's what I realized, is it like, Wait, you're Jessie Graff, and you're feeling the same things that I'm feeling about myself and failure and all these things. And I fell in the first obstacle. So it's all about perspective,

Evan Perperis

a lot, a lot of its expectations versus outcomes, right. So if I go into a race expecting to finish in third place, and I finish in first I'm ecstatic, right? Versus if I go finishing. I messed that up a little The point is, if I ended up higher than where I expected to finish, I'm a lot happier than if even if I'm in a higher placement. But my expectations were different, right. So like, you know, if I'm expecting to come in second, and I came in third, I'd be I'd be disappointed. But if I expected to come in second, and I came in first I'd be whatever, I'm messing it up, you get the point.

Zack Arnold

I totally get the point. Yes. And I think that expectations are such a good place to take this conversation. Because one of the things that I always say in my coaching program on the podcast, everything that I write, I deal with a lot of people that are managing or overcoming or facing creative burnout, you're dealing with like physical burnout, where you can be talking about like adrenal glands that don't work, thyroid function, that's all messed up. But in my world, it's a lot more mental. Some of its physical, there are physical manifestations. And I've reached a point of extreme adrenal fatigue from doing nothing more than working hard at a computer. The point being, that I found that even though burnout can be caused by a million different things, it always comes down to the same root cause, which is setting improper expectations, which frames things in an improper way. And all the things that we talked about with failing on the Ninja Warrior course, to me, those are all logical and analytical things that I tell myself, so I feel less bad about it. Because I had an expectation, I have yet to meet that expectation. And that expectation continues to drive me to do more training, and do you know very ninja specific skills and strength and speed and all the other things, and I need that motivation. But at the end of the day, when I had several family members, that after the I'd fallen the second time, they're like, well, you're done now, right? I'm like, done. What? Are you kidding? No, I want this even more now. And I need that motivation. But I think that would happen so often with people that set goals, whether small, big or otherwise, it's all about the destination. When I think about the quality of my life If the quality of my health, the quality of my network and my relationships, I have a totally different life, because I said, You know what, screw it, I'm going to try American Ninja Warrior. And I know that for you relationships and building networks and just kind of ingratiating yourself in this community is a big part of what you do as well.

Evan Perperis

Yeah, absolutely. You know, I've done I've done a lot of stuff for the sport, you know, writing and podcasting, stuff like that, and not expecting a lot in return. A lot of times I write for free, like no immediate, tangible outcome, and I've just gotten, I've gotten repaid exponentially, to the point where it's like, well, I was just trying to help someone out, like I wasn't expecting all expenses paid trip to the other side of the world for to run a race, like, because I mean, I'm a great ultra endurance guy, but like, when it comes to like, 5k, you know, I can I can place in my local or kind of, like, regional area, but like, the big races, you know, that's the national series type events. I'm not, I'm not podium level at that, that's too high. But, you know, twice, I've been flown to the other side of the world to race and put in a five star hotel, and it was completely amazing. And I, all I did was try to help some friends out. And yeah, those again, those relationships had been huge. And I've, I've helped make connections between brands and race brands, and like, apparel brand and stuff like that. And again, I'm not expecting anything returned, I'm just trying to be helpful and a lot, a lot of good things have come my way.

Zack Arnold

Well, given that I come largely from the world of Hollywood, which is about as far away from altruism as you can possibly be, I'm gonna play the devil's advocate. Okay. And I'm gonna ask you, what is the point of doing any of that? Why put in all that effort? If you know, you're not going to get something in return? It's all about quid pro quo, I scratch your back, you scratch mine, why are you wasting your time doing all these things when you're potentially getting nothing in return?

Evan Perperis

Yeah, you know, I'm somewhat against some of its selfish, I feel personal self satisfaction when I help people. So I do it partially because of that. Some of these people, like most of these people have developed relationships over the years, and they're my friends. So I want to see them succeed. And, you know, I'm not, you know, me writing, I can write an article very quickly, you know, 30 minutes, I can knock out an article. And so it's like, 95%, complete, so it doesn't require a lot of my personal time. And it builds repetitions, where, you know, the more I practice writing articles, the quicker I can write longer form stuff, like books, and then, you know, hopefully my articles, direct people to my books, then people buy my books and stuff like that, and then it then people buy stuff from my sponsors, and some of my affiliate codes. And sometimes I get paid back in that in that aspect. But, you know, I saw, I've bounced around from other sports I've done. I've done powerlifting of the Natural Bodybuilding of the marathon running, and triathlon, and I found obstacle course racing. And it was, like a sport that was built for me, it felt like I felt like I've been training for this for a decade. And it was brand new. And I liked the atmosphere, like we've talked about with Tough Mudder. And I want to see it succeed. You know, and I think that's, to me, that's, it's good to have have a legacy beyond kind of yourself, right. So you know, I have a military legacy. But then on the other side, I have this obstacle course racing legacy, and then my family legacy and stuff like that. So I want to be part of something bigger. And that's kind of like summaration of why I do this.

Zack Arnold

Yeah. But you have affiliate codes on your website. So you're clearly in it for the money.

Evan Perperis

Yeah. Yeah, I really, I'm really,

Zack Arnold

But I bet you've gotten that though, haven't you? I've gotten I've gotten some money back. No, no, I mean, I bet you've gotten that response. That response, I've gotten that response, where it's like, oh, you use want me to buy this desk chair, this MAC is you're gonna get an affiliate commission, like, it helps to fund the website, but I'm not spending hours writing about all this stuff in podcasting about it, because I want that $7

Evan Perperis

Yeah, like the affiliate codes are such I get such a low return on investment. It's almost not worth the time, you know, like, the time like it takes to copy and paste it and insert into the website. Like, that's how low I'm typically making off most affiliate stuff.

Zack Arnold

Yeah, I mean, if you're thinking about the affiliate process, unless you have a million followers, you might as well work minimum wage, because if you're talking about what you're getting paid in return for your time, yeah, just go work minimum wage, you know, slinging burgers, you're going to make more money. But I find that it kind of goes back to this idea of cynicism, where people just don't want to believe that you just want to provide value to others, and you expect nothing in return, especially in today's day and age, where it's just all about influencers and look at me, like it's so hard to convince people. I just enjoy helping others. And when you succeed, I feel like I succeed, which is a little bit selfish, like you said, is there any real true altruism? I know that that's an existential question that's been around for ages. But if my intention is I want to feel good, but you still get helped. Who cares? You still get helped. What's the difference? Right?

Evan Perperis

Yeah. Yeah, I'd agree.

Zack Arnold

Another question that I have, and this is perhaps gonna go a little bit deeper. This does not apply to everybody, but I feel that it applies to a lot more people than you might guess. Which is that when you choose to dive into something that's really difficult and really hard, and to be perfectly frank, something like Oh, OCR or Ninja or CrossFit or anything like this, it's a little masochistic. Because it's, it's not the most pleasurable experience, but you derive pleasure in that discomfort. And I find that often in what I read, or the people that I interview, it's usually because of one of two reasons. Either you are racing toward something, or to You're running away from something. I'm curious if there's something underneath the surface that belongs in either or both of those categories for you.

Evan Perperis

Um, I would say slightly, you know, again, we talked a little bit about my youth, and I wasn't really gonna say, I don't feel like I was picked on I mean, occasionally with like, kids or kids, right? The so a little bit of that, you know, I always kind of growing up, I liked like Schwarzenegger and Stallone movies. So I kind of like gravitated towards that. As I got older, I was like, Well, you know, I can, I can be like a real life movie, like, these guys are playing these people on TV and movies, like I can be the real life version of that. So that's, that's part of it. And then the other part is, I don't know it, like goal oriented oriented stuff, you know. So I've got I've got some specific goals. I want an obstacle course racing. And I'm, I'm more working my way towards there. Yeah, I don't know. That's a good question. I'll think about that some more. But I. Yeah, good question.

Zack Arnold

So along the lines of this kind of being a masochistic way to spend your time and your days, knowing that you're potentially either running towards something away from something or a little bit of both. Take me to a moment, whether it's 24 hours into a race or your, you know, 1000 burpees, deep into a challenge, whatever it might be, where you're thinking, Why in the world, am I doing this? And how am I going to do one more rep. And what is the voice that you hear? That keeps you going through it?

Evan Perperis

So in 2017, I decided I'm going to try to run and do well, at every 24 hour obstacle course race in the world, there was about six plans got distracted a little bit, I ended up doing five, I didn't know about one of them. And so one of them conflicted with a televised event, CBS televised event called toughest, Mudder eight hour, except that that 24 hour was on a permanent facility, which means I can run that course, on a different day, and essentially, like shadow run my results. So that's what I did. So random weekend, if we drove to Vermont, and I do a 24 hour obstacle course race by myself, there's no one on the course, I am chasing a podium finishes, which technically doesn't even like really account because it's a shadow run on this event, and there is like no one cares if I do all these 24 hour OCRs in the world, like no, there's no like, I don't have this, like huge fan following. And this is especially 2017. So like I really even have made that much of a name for myself as much as I have now. And I am 12 hours into this event, it is dark, and I'm wandering around the woods by myself. And I'm like, What in the heck am I doing? I was like, no one cares about this, but me, like, this is the dumbest thing I've ever done in my life. Like why? Like, why have I chosen this as my hobby. And, you know, I, I had recorded a podcast with a friend the weekend before. And he was asking me about endurance racing. And I said, you know, at the end of the day, 24 hours, just not that long in the span of human life, right? Like it's a blank, you ask someone what they did last week, and you name the day of the week, there'll be like, I don't know, when went to work I you can they can't even tell you what they had for lunch or where they went to dinner. Right? It's just a blink. And I was like, You know what, we're just gonna, we're just gonna, we're just gonna power through it, right? Like, it'll be over. Like, you can't stop the clock, it will end. So I'm just gonna keep putting one foot in front of the other. And, you know, we'll see what happens, we'll see where I come out. So that's what I did. And I hit that moment, I think once or twice during that event, it's probably the one of the more darker moments I've hit during racing, and just kind of power through it, again, ended up drawing back on my lessons from combat in from the military, where it's just like, you know, stopping is just not an option. If you're going to step across the line. Like, you got to commit to finishing it, even if it's below well below your stated mileage goal or below your stated mileage, or use your time, etc.

Zack Arnold

So let me ask you this, then if we're going back to that moment, where you're 12 hours in, you're in the middle of the woods, and you're saying to yourself, Why in the world that I choose this, this is so dumb, right? It'd be doing anything else right now. And you had great perspective. But is there fear of the consequence of stopping so if you had quit, I think that fear or the consequence that you've created in your mind is one of the things that keeps you going, what's the consequence of you quitting at the 12 hour mark?

Evan Perperis

You know, in reality, it's nothing. I think, I think quitting is like a disease as in like, it begets more quitting right? So if I quit now, then what am I going to quit next time something gets hard, right? Like, you know, whether it be and it can be a race, it can be your job, it can be your marriage, it can be it can be whatever it can be your other hobby, right? Like I take my do martial arts on the side also now that's kind of like a hobby I picked up in the list, of course you do. So, you know, it's just one of those things like, you know, what is this going to lead? This is just gonna lead to more quitting and then that one that doesn't make me feel good about myself again, a little bit of selfish reasons to it doesn't make it doesn't doesn't set a good example for my daughter when she, you know, when she doesn't make the gymnastics team. You know, she, she was like, Are you gonna still do gymnastics? She's like, Yeah, that's like, good, you know, bounce back up and get back up. And I, you know, I would like to think that she's seen me fail enough times and see me get back up, where she has internalized some of those life lessons.

Zack Arnold

Yeah, and I can relate to all of that. And that was probably, I would say the hardest thing about following the first season on Ninja Warrior wasn't the fall, it wasn't well, and I actually got lucky in the sense that it wasn't aired in front of millions of people. And it was it didn't even make the show. But the hardest thing was in the fall, it wasn't a failure. It wasn't all the time or everything else that was put in, it was that my daughter was crying. That was the part that was so hard for me to handle. Because to them, they had this image in their mind because she was only eight or nine at the time, like, Oh, my daddy's gonna hit a buzzer. Right. And that was really, really hard for her to handle because nobody in my family expected it, but she certainly didn't. But then there have been several points of hardship. And it's funny, you said gymnastics because that's something that my my daughter is doing. And with that she's gone through periods where she hasn't done well with competition or had a bad practice. And she said, she even wrote me a letter one saying that, you know, you've taught me to keep going and not give up. It's like, well, I'm, I'm glad that me getting wet on the course was good for something. Right? It's good good for that, that leading by example. But I think that one of the really important points that you bring up is this idea that if I quit here today, I quit in other areas of my life. And I'm sure you've heard the saying before, but for anybody listening that hasn't, one of the most important thing that drives how I do things is the following. How you do anything, is how you do everything. This is a lesson that I actually learned in yoga class of all places over 20 years ago, where our yoga instructor was explaining to us about how you have to be present in the moment. And right now your quads are burning, because you're holding warrior to for three minutes. Are you angry? Like, do you want to get out of the pose? Like what's your immediate reaction? Because whatever that immediate reaction is, is probably how you're going to react to traffic, or how you're going to react to an argument with your partner. And that was just like this huge aha moment for me. So like you said, nobody would have cared if you would quit. I think frankly, people would have been like, well, thank god glad this is over. But you know that, like you said, it just it becomes this infectious disease where once you've accepted that I can quit once, it just becomes easier to quit the next time.

Evan Perperis

Right? Yeah. And I know, at the end of the day, we all like I quit plenty of things, the differences, I tried to make it to the end, the end of the season, the end of the race, etc. Before I'd be like, Well, that was not fun. We aren't doing that again, right? I think there's value because you know, at the end, otherwise, I'd still be doing everything I was doing since childhood, right? I used to be playing like baseball on the on the weekends and soccer and it still be involved in Boy Scouts, right? Like I put stuff all the time, it's just a matter of how and when you quit. Versus if it's impulsive. You know, are this is getting hard. I'm stopping right here. I think that is getting very negative versus like, alright, well, this sucks. I'm going to finish out this season, and then not come back next season. Because, you know, maybe soccer is not an interest anymore. Maybe gymnastics is or whatever, cheerleading, whatever, whatever you do. And the you know, you you said I really liked that quote, you said earlier, that's I haven't heard that one before. But you know, the, to me the model for success, I feel like I've I've taken one model for success. And I've just lifted and plopped it in different in different places. So with my success and obstacle course, racing, again, from all the other sports I've done, I watched it while other guys were doing to be successful. And usually like the most successful guys in like bodybuilding, for example, are not the ones who won the most Mr. Olympia is it was the ones who like invested in themselves, and had their own kind of brand and its own thing going. And then I looked at Ultra running and like the most well known Ultra runner at the time when I was kind of following was Dean Karnazes. And he, he was not the best Ultra runner. But he was doing these charity events and stuff like that. And like, you know, he made Ultra running big to the common person. And I was like, well, that's a good model. And I literally like I took the grenades as my leg lifted up, moved it and just dropped it in the opposite corner. And I was like, Well, this is my model for success. Because I watched this guy do it and it worked. You know that I think that that that has taken I've used that model for other areas of my life. Like we were just talking about martial arts, right, like, you know, reading books, listening to podcasts, watching documentaries, getting an instructor and then just practicing to the point where it almost becomes ridiculous to the point where people are like, I think you're wasting your time you've been practicing a lot and you don't seem to be getting much better. And it's like alright, that's the time to like double down and practice. more, you know, because I'm a firm believer in like the 10,000 hour rule from Malcolm Gladwell, if you're familiar, you know, 10,000, it basically takes an average of 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to achieve mastery. So you know, I think the more the more reps you're getting in, the farther you'll go, and you know, the, my jujitsu instructor says the same thing you know, so it's just, I've just watched it play out at so many areas of my personal life, my professional life, and then on all these different sports I've been involved in

Zack Arnold

Yeah, and this is something I actually talked about in a podcast a long time ago that I hadn't thought about it forever. I'm going to make sure we link to it with an author named Scott Young. And it's about a concept called Ultra learning. Where when people think well, what's the real practical use of being on American Ninja Warrior? So you're learning how to grab nunchucks and doula shaves and swings and all these other things? And yeah, that's true. Like, I can do a bunch of cool stuff with parkour. And you know, do you know, I think I did like 50 pushups and 38 seconds last weekend during our workout, because we just wanted to see how fast we could do it, right. I never thought I'd be able to do 50 pushups consecutively ever to do it in 38 seconds. It's like holy crap didn't know I was capable of it. The point being, that what I'm learning is the meta skill of learning and achieving a difficult goal. So when I decided, You know what, Ninja Warrior was fun, I'm moving on. It's not I'm quitting for the wrong reasons. Because I'm scared. Or I feel like I'm a failure. It's like, this has run its course. Now I've done this thing. Now. I'm going to try another one. I can apply all the same lessons, as opposed to allow I gotta start over because it's developing a meta skill as opposed to just developing skills.

Evan Perperis

Yeah, I strongly agree. I agree so much. And you know, you mentioned quitting Ninja Warrior, like I was, I was terrified. I did not want to get back to be honest. I applied a second season. I was like, I hope they don't take me so I don't have to, like, because I was, I was worried I was gonna fall again on the first outs. And I was like, oh, man, like, if I fall forest officers again, I don't know. I don't know how I'm gonna deal with this. And then I just basically lied to myself. I was like, No, you're definitely not gonna fall on the first obstacle. It doesn't matter. Like, you'll be fine. Everything's gonna go great. Blah, blah, blah. Like, I basically lied myself into forcing myself into action. So we'll, I'll fly again next year. And I do hope I get picked on like, last. My first or second year, I was like, I hope I don't get picked me anyway. And the experience was 100 times better. And you're gonna go back a third time? Yeah, I'll try again for version three.

Zack Arnold

So nice. Well, maybe we'll get stuck in the same group, the third time, and we'll actually know each other. Yeah, that'll be nice. That'll be nice. Yeah. So I definitely before we go, don't want to lose what I think is an amazing resource for anybody that wants to learn OCR, or try their first Spartan Race or Tough Mudder. And going back to this idea of developing a meta skill, and then getting into the specifics, I think that the reason why these races are so important for people that are thinking, well, this is dumb. Why do I want to get dirty and be in the mountains and even get electrocuted? To me it's developing the meta skill of embracing discomfort, because boy is your life gets so much easier. If you can be calm. When you're going through ice water under barbed wire that's electrified or somebody spraying in the face of the fire hose. Getting into an argument at work, it's not so bad anymore, you really learn how to deal with that discomfort. So for anybody that's thinking, Maybe I should try this, not just because it sounds like it would be fun, which it would be. But I want to kind of see what is my discomfort level. If somebody's listening right now, and they're thinking, I kind of want to do this, but it's terrifying. And I have no idea where to start? How do we help the newcomers start to build something very simple and attainable, so they can survive their first race,

Evan Perperis

honestly, the first thing I would do is find a race that's kind of nearby just to kind of limit some of the travel expenses. And then just sign up, give yourself a couple of months, ideally, to train that way, you have a goal to shoot for. I mean, you can sign up and injured go for it next weekend. That's an absolute possibility. But you know, you probably have a little bit of better time if you'd like do a little bit of training. And like I said, there's people who walk the whole course. So don't don't be scared to get out there. I think one of the reasons Tough Mudder is so good is because they they really press on a lot of people's fears, right? Like there's obstacles that are tall, there's obstacles that are enclosed spaces, there's obstacles that are like partially underwater. There's ice water, there's electricity, you know, and you mentioned, you mentioned like, it sounds stupid. I literally said the same thing. My best friend's the best man at my wedding was like, Hey, you should do this thing called obstacle course racing. And I was like, No, sounds stupid. Like I'm a marathon runner and triathlon. I don't do I don't do mud runs right. And he was so right and I should have listened to him two years earlier. I eventually found my way there. But you know, you want to get out there sign up for something and really just start being active you know, if you really want to go for like, faster performance or higher level or want to like really dive into the deep skills obviously I've written several books on the topic, the new strength and speed guide to lead off so of course racing is on Amazon or my website, the team strength speed.com And then like my by my biography is on there also. And so is like books specialized and ultra distance ops, of course racing and then I have one that's like, it's like a 75 workouts. Essentially, you can plug and play into your existing schedule. So there's resources out there. You know, you can talk to people who are in the community, the obstacle course racing communities, one of the nicest communities of any sport I've ever done, they're so welcoming. And again, there's people, literally of every skill level from walk the course to I'm sprinting and trying to win a world championship out on the course. So

Zack Arnold

Yeah, I find one of the objections for people that don't understand the community is like, well, I don't want to be around a bunch of meatheads that are gonna make fun of me when I fall on obstacles like it is. So the polar opposite of that, like you're saying, like, some of my favorite experiences, and some of the best relationships I have are people that I've either trained with to do a race or that I've met at a race. And everybody is so incredibly encouraging, which also to me, discourages this mindset, especially in the world of Hollywood of I'm in it for myself, it's a zero sum game, if I'm going to be successful, it has to be at the expense of somebody else's failure. It eliminates that feeling of competition versus the rising tide lifts all boats. Yeah. But what I'm also curious to ask you is that when it comes to the information, here's how to train, here's what you should do for forearm strength, or cardio, etc, etc, you have tons of resources, that's just about access to information, people can go to your website, we're going to provide a link, they can get the answers that they need. The most common objection, however, that I hear, and I want to know if you hear this is, okay, that sounds great. Um, I'm going to have to get in shape. So then when I'm ready, I can sign up for the race.

Evan Perperis

Yeah. Now, again, not not necessary, you know, you, you part of the process is doing the racing, and that'll help you get in shape. So I like like I said, I don't recommend like never running and then just going out and doing it. But again, there are people who who can walk the whole thing. My dad is 74. He has he does my picker for like, every 12 hour and 24 hours. So he stays up with me and feeds me food and stuff like that. And he went out 74 years old, did a Tough Mudder five gay and then he's done a couple of local brands, a brand called KC timber challenge. So you know, no, we're not moving fast. But we're walking. And we're doing the obstacles, though, to the best of his ability. I think I think the Tough Mudder five gay did all the obstacles including like the the ice bath one, so and Everest, right? Does work the wall essentially. So yeah,

Zack Arnold

I call that the ankle Twister. It's nothing like the Warped Wall, slippery and muddy. And there's like these metal platforms and like, yeah, I don't know how many times I want to try this because I've seen multiple people twist an ankle and you know, it's a little shaky, a little shady, but definitely one that everybody has to do at least once for sure. Absolutely. So let me ask you this. Now I'm just going to be super and totally self indulgent. Because I would guess that almost nobody is interested in this topic. But I have you on my podcast and I'm going to ask you specifically, okay, I've gotten to a point with OCR, where OCR is not a major part of my life, the way that it is for you for you. It's essentially a profession, you're doing it consistently, all day, every day, it's always in your mind. OCR, for me, is something that I like to stay in shape for on a regular basis, I probably do three, four or five runs a year. I'm not terribly interested in the ultra endurance world, not because of fear, but more the volume of hours that it takes to get good at it. I just don't want to spend that amount of time away from my family. I know that like you said, you're a marathoner, and triathlete, in order to do well, you just got to put in the hours and it's a lot of hours for endurance. So that's my main hesitation. However, a friend of mine and I that are both ninjas, we kind of reached a point last year where we're like, I don't feel the fire that I used to for like, the Spartan beast or the Tough Mudder. Like, they're fun, and they're fun when you bring new people. But it's like a challenge, not so much a challenge. But what I was thinking of taking on as kind of an interim is this year, I don't remember exactly where it is. But you can get your entire Trifecta and a weekend. You can do your beast, your sprint, and you're super all within what essentially amounts to 36 hours. So if I'm going from the world of the most I've ever done is a Spartan beast, 14 ish miles to all of a sudden having to do that. And then a sprint and a super back to back the next day. What don't I know that I don't know, having done it the way that I have so far, what are the things that need to change in order for me to be ready for something let that level

Evan Perperis

so you need to make sure you eat primarily right? Because people are people will be like, Oh, why don't I never need to eat because I'm, I'm just running 10 miles or whatever I'm you know, so you need to fuel because your your body is going to be needing that for all those races the entire weekend. And then you need to kind of look at it as one big race not three individual races. So don't redline on that first race, like your first race should feel easy, you should be running at like a comfortable pace. Then as soon as you finish you know immediately you want to take some some food into kind of start replenishing glycogen and help rebuild the muscle and then you know, go back out and obviously do it again, consistent consistently fuel during the next event. And then you know, make sure you get make sure you get good rest leading up to it. Yeah, sleep is so undervalued. And you know, it can play a huge impact on your performance on on event day. And then you know, as far as like your training goes leading up to it, you want to kind of simulate some Love this stuff in training, right? So like, if you, you'd want to, like do too hard workouts on back to back days, so you can kind of gauge that used to that feeling of running on heavy legs. So your body's not like, what are we doing, I've never done this before, and I'm scared, I'm gonna start shutting down. So you know, a couple of little tweaks you can make here and there. And then, at the end of the day, you know, at all, you know, with any of these kind of like endurance challenges, and endurance is a relative term, whether you're running 5k 10k or 24 hours, it comes down to mindset, it the the value of mindset is, so it's not talked about enough. It's just, it's just so important. The the toolbar rested two weekends ago, I was in sixth place with like, three hours left, I've been running for like nine hours. And I could have easily been like, alright, well, this is just not my day, I'm gonna give it I'm gonna, I guess we'll finish and six ish today. And I did the opposite. I was like, I'm in a red line until my body blows up. And I ran, probably harder than I have at any Toughest Mudder up to that point. And I moved up into third. And the guy who's chasing me and forth and other great athletes who look better than me. Honestly, the lap before saw me, his pit crew saw me go out and they were like people strong. You know, basically like, Don't Don't chase him. He's not, you're not going to catch him. So mindset was the was the deciding factor. Because physically, physically, it were probably not that much different. I think I'm actually slower than a lot of people, I think my mind says just a little bit tougher from the combat deployments and stuff like that. And, you know, we're just talking about if, if something's hard in the course, and when you deal with something in real life, it's not as challenging. You know, similarly, my wife says, Nothing ever excites me, is like I've, again, not to be overly dramatic, but like, I've been kind of like people have legitimately tried to kill me and my friends. So then when you come back, and it's like, oh, we're just things that slightly late, and you're like, not a big deal. These to drive one of my bosses crazy, because I would never, like, I would never get excited about anything. And he'd be like, he's like, You need to be you need to care more about this. It's like, Why do you care, it's just not a big deal. Because at the end of the day, we're all we're all going to be fine. We take a deep breath, and we can get we'll get we'll get the task done. It may not be perfect, but it'll it'll be done.

Zack Arnold

Well, let me ask you this, about mindset going back to this idea of quitting when it comes to it. And this is something that I've learned from reading and following David Goggins, who I'm sure you're very familiar with, because I'm assuming you're in very similar circles. And I don't know, maybe we were even on a deployment together and how small the world is. And for anybody that doesn't know David Goggins, like, probably not even human, like he's the the military, like equivalent of Drago and rocky for where you're like, he's got to be a machine. He's not a man, right? So anybody that you know, really wants to be inspired to read his book. But is there a point where mindset becomes dangerous, where it's saying to you, I shouldn't quit. And that's actually putting you in a space of danger. And you should quit for the right reasons.

Evan Perperis

100% It's a double edged sword. It I mean, the same, the same reason that pushes people to be elite athletes is the same reason they overtraining get injured, you know, you can look at it with especially with like weight cutting, right. So a lot of runners will drop weight, and they continue to get faster, they continue to get faster, right? And it goes in, and then it when you hit a certain point, it becomes a cliff. And now your body like you're breaking bones, you shouldn't be breaking, you're malnourished, you're not recovering from runs, it becomes a, you know, the same thing that made you faster is now the same thing that's making you slower and permanently injured and unable to recover. So yeah, it it's a very fine balance. I tend to like I basically before, at some point before every race, I'm like, Oh, I got like this weird ache in my foot or my ankle or my hip. And I basically say that it's nothing. I'm going to be fine. And I'm usually right. And it hasn't quite been me in the butt yet. But I'm sure I'm sure there'll be a day when it'll it'll come back and get me I was doing example from I'm doing training heavy weighted dips. I tear my pec part of my pec on my right side, and I feel the muscle ripping from itself. And I'm in the gym. So I dropped down and I'm like, I just did something really stupid. I'm in trouble. And I was like, no, no, I'm fine. Let me try a push up. You can't do push ups if you're missing part of your pec. So I fall on my face. I'm like, Okay. I'm like, Should I continue to work out? And I'm like, no, no, no, but let's be real. Let's be real. Let's be safe for once. We're gonna go home. So I went home, didn't finish my rest of my gym workout. And then I was like, I'm pretty sure I tore part of my pec. And then, like an obsessive athlete. I was like, Well, I liked the work. I'll just get on the exercise bike. So I wrote the exercise bike for 35 minutes, like, you know, again, not the brain, you know, it's a double edged sword. So you gotta be careful. But if you really want to see how far your body can take you, you need to err more on the side of caution and safety, to be honest with you.

Zack Arnold

And I know that if I asked David Goggins, I'd get a very different answer. He's like, I have no toenails. I broken my left arm. My left lung is collapsed, but I've got 50 more miles to go and I shall fail. Hear it out. Right now. It's it's funny his line is, you know, a lot further than I think just about any mortal human being. But I'm really glad you brought this up because this is where I wanted to go. Next is this idea of you had an injury. And you're like, No, I don't have an injury, I'm going to try something else, which is the push ups after tearing your pack. And you're like, doesn't my mindset means nothing here, I literally don't physically have the biology or the biomechanics to do a push up. Right? This is where 99.9% of people would stop. And you said, No, I'm just not going to do upper body. But I'm going to do more exercise. And I'm going to finish my workout. Yeah, and this is obviously not a logical choice. This is an emotional choice, which goes back to are you running towards something or running away from something? So that one moment where you're like, I'd be okay, calling it a day, I should probably get in an ice bath, or you know, put on some, you know, icy hot or whatever, but I'm going to finish the workout. What's the emotional reason you finished the workout, when logically, you know you shouldn't be?

Evan Perperis

Um, yeah, I think the other parts of my body still work. So my upper body didn't work. But my legs the worst and obstacle course, racing is a complete body sport. So I was like, Well, if I can't train, upper body, I'll train lower body. And, you know, that'll still push me closer towards my my goals that I'm shooting after for this year.

Zack Arnold

So I want to go even a little bit deeper here. This is an exercise that I do it with some of my students, we talk a lot about the voices that we have in our head, which is very much about mindset. And the voices that are in our head are not fixed. These are voices that we can change, we can choose to listen to to not listen to, we can replace them with other people's voices, which I think is a reason why mentorship is so important. But in that instance, what was the voice telling you that convinced you to finish the workout? What was the actual sentence or phrase that it was telling you?

Evan Perperis

It's just like your legs to work. Just keep going, essentially.

Zack Arnold

So what I'm curious about from there? Is that your voice that's telling you that?

Evan Perperis

Yes, I would say that's my voice. Yeah.

Zack Arnold

Do you think that that voice would have come from anywhere else? Or did you develop the voice on your own?

Evan Perperis

I think it's kind of an amalgamation of people I respect that surround me, you know, whether, you know, it's, you know, combination of my father, my, my co workers in the military, other athletes that I train with, I look up to, you know, I think it's just, I think I've internalized a lot of their mindset. And, you know, maybe I've cherry picked the parts that I like, and kind of made this extreme version of it. But I think that's essentially what it is. It's it's that, you know, in the military people, you know, if you're having trouble, people are just like, if you're in selection, and you're having trouble through, like, Don't be a pussy, just stop it. And there's no, like, there's no explanation, there's no motivate, it's just, like, stop being a pussy, and fix yourself and move forward. And yeah, you, you know, you, you surround yourself with those people, you know, if you surround yourself with the people, you want to be like, you'll start behaving like them for good or for bad. And, you know, I picked up some great stuff from working with special forces, guys, I also, that lifestyle is kind of like extreme and all on kind of all fronts. And thankfully, you know, my athletic background, I basically like to go drinking and stuff like that I basically stopped drinking, because I decided that not because I dislike drinking alcohol, I was just like, well, it does not align with my overall goals. At best, it's zero sum. So it doesn't, it doesn't really doesn't anything, it probably takes away. So I was like, I will just stop drinking. And if he doesn't, 14, when I started getting into alpha origin, I was like, we're done. Just stopped cold turkey, we're done. And, you know, I missed it a couple times. And then since then, don't miss it at all, I haven't looked back. So

Zack Arnold

I think that it just it shows the importance of who you surround yourself with and being very selective about that inner circle. Because I really think there's a lot of truth to you are the five people that you surround yourself with the most. And like you said, you just kind of become that circle and whatever level of success they have, you will eventually attain that level of success if you're picking the right ones. And something that I always tell my students and that I write about, as I say that if you are the best in the room at whatever it is that you do, whether it's OCR, or your writer or an editor, whatever it is, you are in the wrong room. Because I want to surround myself with people that are way better than I am. So it pushes me to get to where they are. So for me, it's all about how do I find a mentor? How do I connect with them? How do I learn from them? And then I can get to where they are as opposed to just kind of feeling like I'm a crab in a bucket and all the people I'm surrounded by are pulling me back in.

Evan Perperis

Yeah. Very good advice. Very good advice.

Zack Arnold

So on that note, last question that I have for you has to do, again with this idea of and I would say in this case is probably more running towards something than away from something. But you've obviously been through some very, very real and raw life experiences that the vast majority of people that live life have not seen myself included. Do you feel that a part of what you do has to do with either honoring people that are fallen soldiers or the charities? Or even a little bit deeper? This is something that I've read about in the past. And if you don't want to go here, you don't have to. But I know that some people get involved with things like this because there's a level of survivor's guilt. And I'm curious, what is the thing you run towards? Because like you said, if it's just for, you know, charity, or whatever, that's one thing, but it's deeper when you get to this level of discomfort and pain.

Evan Perperis

Yeah, you know, I've also my college roommate was killed in Iraq in April 2007. I've had a soldier, my company died in Iraq in March 2006. You know, I've friends that have lost their brothers in combat, I've one of my warrant officer, he lost his wife and Syria in 2019. In combat. So, you know, a big part of it is they didn't get to finish their lives. So I feel like I need to live my life for them, right. Like they didn't get a chance to come home with their kids, they didn't get a chance to kiss their wife one more time where their spouse, and they didn't get a chance to do stupid things like run around an obstacle course race for 24 hours, normally, most of them even want to, but I feel I feel like I in order to make up for their loss, I need to do more, essentially, it's not so much survivor's guilt. It's more of like, I have the opportunity when they didn't, so I shouldn't waste that. So that's, that's one of the big reasons of kind of like, why I'm always like, got my hands on all these different things. And I'm kind of pushing towards that. So I think that answered the question.

Zack Arnold

Yeah, pretty much answers the question. And it's amazing how much you and I have in common, because I'm essentially doing the podcast and the coaching program. And all of the work that I'm doing now, that's not connected to my former life as a Hollywood film and television editor, for the exact same reason, I obviously didn't go through any kind of tours of combat or anything. But the short version of the story is that I had a friend of mine that I met in college, who was a quadriplegic. And I didn't know much about his past, he was in his late 20s, he and I became very, very good friends, we made some films together, we have the same taste in movies, like we were just buddies. And then at his, unfortunately, his funeral when he passed the 30, because he had muscular dystrophy. So he had a very shortened lifespan. I started here, all of these things that he had accomplished, despite his disabilities, one of which was that he became the first quadriplegic to become a licensed scuba diver. And I remember looking around thinking, somebody has got to tell this story, because this is the things that he has done are amazing. And then I realized, Oh, crap, it's got to be me, doesn't it? I'm gonna have to be the one. And then it wasn't essentially eight years of my life putting together this documentary telling his story. But what I really learned about achieving difficult goals is that it's all about focusing on the things that you can do, versus the things that you can't do. But there was a lot of guilt associated with that. Because as I was learning about him, and what he did, I'm like, Man, I'm kind of wasting my life. Like, yeah, I was successful. And I was, you know, making money in Hollywood working on projects. But I'm like, this is not really me, using my potential or providing a lot of value to the world, it's just more kind of a superficial goal of I want to earn some credits and make some money. So now for me, it's very similar, where he doesn't he never had the opportunity to get married, he didn't have the opportunity to have kids who never had the opportunity to take the stairs instead of the elevator. So I kind of see it as my duty to make sure that if I have those opportunities, I use them not because I feel guilt. Unless I choose to go the easy route. That's when I started to feel the guilt. Like, you know, I could have made the harder choice, but I chose the easier one. And he was forced to deal with hard choices. And he did it with a smile on his face. So sounds like you and I are cut very much from the same cloth and that respect.

Evan Perperis

Yeah, absolutely. Now I totally connect to those all the things you were just saying. Yeah.

Zack Arnold

So final words of wisdom. And this is not necessarily just for people that are interested in OCR, or ultra endurance or anything else. But words of wisdom for anybody that's terrified of taking on a new goal. What advice would you give them?

Evan Perperis

The price of being a, you know, a graceful masters being an awkward beginner, right? Like, you got to try if you're scared of failing, you're never going to accomplish anything, you're gonna you're just gonna sit in your in your safety bubble, they're never kind of exploring outside of it. So you know, try new things. Get out there experience life. And, you know, if you fail, you're back. You're back in the same place you were when you started, you know, like, when, like, when my daughter tries out for the gymnastics team. It just happened. Like a couple weeks ago. I brought it up again, right? Like she wasn't on the team beforehand. She tried out she didn't make it. She's still not on the team. Like, literally, from a I know emotionally. It's not the same, but from an outsider's perspective. It's zero like it has nothing has changed. So like why would you not take an opportunity? Why would you not take a risk, right? So like, when I apply for sponsors, or tried to get my books published, like I sent so many emails and so many people didn't respond. And then so many people responded and said no. And you know at the end of the day it was it made no difference because at the end of the day I still have this this done book so you know why would I not at least try you know it's it comes down to ego people don't like being told no because it hurts a little bit. But you know, a lot of those things are a numbers game you just keep you keep asking enough people and eventually you'll find the right person that's kind of connects with you and is interested in pursuing the same goals that you are so yeah, get out there. It's a that's it's kind of it.

Zack Arnold

I love it could not have summed it up better myself. We will make sure to leave links in the show notes to all of your platforms website and otherwise, but for anybody that's listening, that maybe is in the car, they can't click on a link at the moment where's the best place to find you?

Evan Perperis

So I'm on all my stuff is now kind of synced up so my Instagram is ultraOCRman My Facebook is facebook.com/ultraOCRman, my website is ultraOCRman.com which will redirect you to another part my website but yeah, my email is [email protected] So you can find me on social media that's easiest way to probably connect with me. So I'll answer that probably the quickest, and I'm the only Evan Perperis on there. So I should be pretty easy to find if you can't remember Ultra OCR man. But that's ladies here we go my my books are like on Amazon too. And then in addition to my website, so if you want to sign for me, you have to buy from my website. If you want the digital one or the audible for one of them is on Audible. You can go to the Amazon through that

Zack Arnold

awesome I'm gonna make sure we direct people to all those things and ultra OCR man I'm feeling like maybe I need to knock out 500 burpees after lunch. I'm super pumped and inspired. So I appreciate so much you taking the time to share your wisdom and knowledge and experience today.

Evan Perperis

I appreciate you Zack. Thanks. Great conversation. I really you really have some really good questions like a lot deeper than I was kind of expecting to go but I enjoyed it.

Zack Arnold

Yeah, I get that a lot.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai


Guest Bio:

evan-perperis-bio

Evan Perperis

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Evan “Ultra-OCR Man” Perperis is an active duty Special Forces soldier and professional Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) athlete. He’s come a long way since his days in high school which were primarily spent acting in drama club/musicals and participating in Boy Scouts.

He draws lessons on perseverance and overcoming obstacles from experience from 44 months of combat deployments, 17 years of service and appearances televised obstacle course events (including CBS’s coverage of the 8 hour Toughest Mudder, Lebanon’s Hannibal Race and American Ninja Warrior). These have helped him achieve success with more than 70 race podium finishes including a world championship title in the team division of the 24 hour long World’s Toughest Mudder, 3x individual top ten finishes at World’s Toughest Mudder and 2nd place Pro Coed Team at North American OCR Championship.

He’s best known in the obstacle course racing (OCR) world as “Ultra-OCR Man” where his self created endurance stunts like 24 hours of treadmill OCR, ultra-OCR at simulated 21,000 feet of altitude, 48 hour OCR and 8 days in a row of OCR marathons in winter have raised more than $26,000+ for the charity Folds of Honor (scholarship money for children whose parents were killed or wounded in military service). In 2021 he also started organizing the Tough Mudder 10 hour team building charity event Infinite Hero Honor Challenge which has raised more than $20,000 for Infinite Hero Honor Foundation.

As an athlete and author, he has written 350+ articles, produced 180+ podcasts, written 7 books and owns the small business Strength & Speed.

Show Credits:

This episode was edited by Curtis Fritsch, and the show notes were prepared by Debby Germino and published by Glen McNiel.

The original music in the opening and closing of the show is courtesy of Joe Trapanese (who is quite possibly one of the most talented composers on the face of the planet).

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Note: I believe in 100% transparency, so please note that I receive a small commission if you purchase products from some of the links on this page (at no additional cost to you). Your support is what helps keep this program alive. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor & producer (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, an American Ninja Warrior, and the creator of Optimize Yourself. He believes we all deserve to love what we do for a living...but not at the expense of our health, our relationships, or our sanity. He provides the education, motivation, and inspiration to help ambitious creative professionals DO better and BE better. “Doing” better means learning how to more effectively manage your time and creative energy so you can produce higher quality work in less time. “Being” better means doing all of the above while still prioritizing the most important people and passions in your life…all without burning out in the process. Click to download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”