By Mattie Schuler
If lacing up your running shoes this year is starting to feel like a chore, pop in your ear buds to listen to folks who know what they’re talking about. TED talks are 5- to 18-minute presentations about whatever topics the speakers choose to delve into. Presenters are sometimes professionals and sometimes everyday folks, but are all fabulous speakers who are sure to inform, entertain, and motivate. We’ve got the seven best TED talks to listen to during a long run, a steady workout, or even on your drive home.
1. Why Some People Find Exercise Harder Than Others
Ted speaker Emily Balcetis is a social psychologist who does research at New York University about differences in perception, like why some people just love to work out, while others find it a chore every . . . single . . . time. In this chat, Balcetis explains how one person can see something differently from others (for example, how far away a finish line is) and how that vision can change a person’s perception of how hard a task is (like how difficult it is to reach that finish line). The talk discusses how your intentional awareness or view of an exercise can change how mentally difficult you find a workout. Or basically, how to make a workout seem easier than it really is.
2. The Puzzle of Motivation
“The Puzzle of Motivation” is listed as one of the top 25 most popular TED talks of all time, and it’s no surprise why. Who doesn’t want to learn the secret behind why we do (or don’t) do things? Dan Pink is a career analyst and author who discusses how extrinsic motivators (like rewards and incentives) don’t motivate people as much as you’d think. He explains that if-then rewards work really well for tasks where there is a simple set of rules and a clear destination to go to, but those types of challenges are far less common when it comes to conquering big goals. The best way to motivate and achieve success? Intrinsic motivators that stem from meaning, purpose, and passion.
3. Never, Ever Give Up
Just in case you think you are too old or the finish line is too far, take a note from stellar storyteller and swimmer Diana Nyad. In the 70s, Nyad was a competitive long-distance open-water swimmer. At 64, she swam the 100 miles from Cuba to Florida. It took her 53 hours, swimming throughout the day and night alongside the dangerous box jellyfish and other ominous sea creatures. Listen to her inspiring story and take a note from her personal mantra when it comes to conquering challenges: find a way.
4. Are We Born to Run?
In this talk, author Christopher McDougall discusses the findings from his book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, which essentially started the barefoot running revolution. McDougall begins with his research on the Tarahumara people in northern Mexico and delves into how this tribe runs ultramarathons well into old age (we’re talking 70 and 80 years old) and how the early days of hunting and foraging led to modern running. Part cultural history of running, part biological history of running; all guaranteed to get you moving.
5. How to Gain Control of Your Free Time
Take a note from TED speaker Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think and Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done, “‘I don’t have time’ means, ‘It’s not a priority.’” As she explains in her chat, you might think you don’t have time to run your errands or work out more, but if you really had to, you would. Vanderkam goes on to explain that when it comes to making goals for the year or figuring out what you want to accomplish, mentally skip forward 12 months. What three to five things would you have wanted to accomplish that year? Then put your priorities first. As she reminds us, there are 168 hours in every week.
6. What I Learned When I Conquered the World’s Toughest Triathlon
As an infant in Mumbai, India, Minda Dentler contracted polio and became paralyzed from the hips down. At age 34, Dentler became the first woman in a wheelchair to complete the Ironman World Championship, a race that consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run. This is her story of obstacles, failure, and crossing the finish line.
7. Your Genes Are Not Your Fate
This three-minute, short and sweet talk from Dean Ornish explains how the choices you make with your body can rewire your genes. Ornish, a clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, explains how some foods can increase the number of brain cells, some foods can decrease the number of brain cells, and how healthy changes can even reverse heart disease.
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