Matt Frazier | Ultrarunner & Founder of No Meat Athlete

Matt Frazier is a marathoner and ultrarunner from Baltimore.  His life as an endurance athlete changed when he found that he could run longer and faster on a vegetarian diet.  After going vegetarian in March 2009, Frazier qualified for the prestigious Boston Marathon with a time of 3:09:59, more than an hour and a half faster than he ran his first marathon.  Since that time, he has run two 50-mile ultra-marathons, and he has plans to one day run a 100-miler. Frazier shares training tips and vegetarian recipes on his site, No Meat Athlete.  When he’s not running, cooking, or blogging, Frazier’s a full-time graduate student working on his Ph.D. in applied math.  He also enjoys reading, gambling, music, and brewing beer.  Frazier lives in Maryland with his wife and son. His two beautiful dogs, both adopted from the SPCA, are a constant source of inspiration to help spread the joys of eating less meat.

Matt-Frazier_P1My Definition Of Success | Success, to me, is spending the time you have in your life the way you choose to spend it. For some people, this will require financial success first, for others, it won’t. But I think even in pursuit of a goal you never reach, you can be successful if you’re growing all the while and you’re enjoying the journey.
I think “spending time the way I want to spend it” has always been my definition of success, but what I choose to spend that time on has changed. It used to be about working hard hoping to retire early; now I realize that I can be successful much sooner if the goal isn’t to retire but is instead to create a job that I love so much I’d do it even if I didn’t have to.

I Am Driven By | I’m driven more by trying to avoid boredom than anything else! I’m definitely a variety seeker; I’m not very good at doing the same thing, day in and day out. So I change my focus a lot and after I accomplish one thing (say, running a marathon or an ultramarathon, or writing a book) I’m not interested in doing that particular thing again, unless there’s some new benchmark with it that I’m trying to reach. This isn’t about being Type-A and never being satisfied … it’s just that I get bored. This is why I was never a very good employee and started my own business, and why I don’t like living in the same place for more than a few years.

My Highlights | Kids, of course. Athletic accomplishments, like working for 7 years to take 100 minutes of my marathon time and get into the Boston Marathon. And being a big part of a movement that goes way beyond me and my business — this is why the No Meat Athlete running groups we started, where people all over the world are connected, in person, with like-minded people nearby that they had never met before, is the most fulfilling thing I’ve done with my business.

The Difference Between Good And Great | I think people who are great at what they do bring a curiosity to the activity. And as long as they have that curiosity, they’re driving to learn as much as they can about it, but more than that, to think about it, obsess about it, even when they’re not doing it. A lot of people call this passion, but I’m not sure they’re the same thing. People who are simply good at what they do often call themselves passionate about it, but they don’t seem to have that hunger that won’t let them think about anything else. They reach a point where they’re satisfied with their knowledge or ability, and then sort of coast on that, instead of always searching for that next insight that’s going to change everything.

Matt-Frazier_P2A Key Talent | I think more than anything, the reason I’ve been successful is my ability to connect with people. And I don’t mean with networking tricks or being overly extroverted — in fact, it’s the opposite. People are so used to being ignored, being disrespected, or other people trying to get something from them, that when you take the time to just be a human being who cares and listens and waits his or her turn, you’re more memorable than someone else who is loud and pushy.
Certainly this applies if you’re trying to connect with a large number of readers or listeners online. Even if your eventual goal is to sell a product or service, that’s not the way to start a relationship. Instead, you give away tons of free stuff. Be helpful, be funny, be vulnerable — be the opposite of the sleazy online marketer. The irony, of course, is that when you finally do have something to sell, people are actually excited about it, because you’ve demonstrated that you have a lot to share, not just in terms of the product but also in terms of emotional connection.
Or take attending a conference. If there’s someone there you really want to connect with there, say a speaker who is far more advanced than you are and whom you’d like to be your mentor, don’t monopolize all their time or be the guy who won’t stop talking about your accomplishments to try to signal to this person that you’re worth it. Instead, be different. Be genuinely interested, ask different questions than they’re used to answering, and go slow. By not asking for anything, or maybe just a tiny piece of advice, you set yourself apart from the people who are loud and self-centered and trying to get something right away. And then later you can follow up, probably be remembered fondly, and go from there.

Performing At My Peak | I pay a lot of attention to physical energy. I eat a completely vegan diet, mostly free of oil, so it’s almost entirely whole foods. And a lot of the activities that I choose to spend my time on — running, meditation, reading and listening to inspiring things — are activities I’ve deliberately chosen to spend time on precisely because they help me to feel more energetic and bring more enthusiasm to whatever I’m working on.

The Meaning Of Life | I really don’t think there is one. My best guess is this is all some sort of big game somebody (or somebodies) much more advanced set up as an experiment. So from our perspective, meaningless. Or that it’s totally random and incidental and meaningless in that different sense. And surprisingly, that detached sort of worldview seems pretty well-suited for thriving in the world the way it is now, with how quickly things change.

Matt-Frazier_P3I Am Inspired By | When it comes to athletes, Michael Arnstein inspires me. He’s known as the Fruitarian and eats and even crazier diet than I do (he eats almost exclusively raw fruits and vegetables) and has won more than his share of ultras eating this way. But I like the way that he’s not afraid to talk a big game, and then he backs it up. He’s even broken 13 hours for 100 miles, which is insane to me.
Besides athletes, I get inspired by people who have started movements or changed the world in a big way, for the better. Seth Godin and Steve Jobs types.