Playlists, ADHD, and 3 Points


I wanted to share with you my pretty amazing playlist for the forty miles I ran last weekend at the Reach the Beach Relay. Yes, for the over seven hours I was out in the wild of New Hampshire listened to…

I have ADHD. Did you know? It’s funny, but it’s actually true. I was diagnosed with it years ago, unfortunately though, it was a few years after I left college, so it was a little late in the game to be much help. They wanted me to go on medication, though, for a big exam coming up so I could trade stocks, but I wasn’t much for the drugs. They said it might make me depressed. I said I wasn’t interested and wanted to do this on my own. They told me it would take me so much longer to concentrate than others and I would struggle with a test over half the people taking it failed the first time. My folks looked at my 1.79 GPA from high school and, especially based on the doctors testing of me were convinced I’d have massive problems passing the test.

I spent hours upon hours studying. I basically dropped out of life for a few months and just hit the books. I turned off everything around me and got quiet and got to work. There were days I spent fifteen hours straight studying. I wanted to poke myself in the eye, but I kept at it. I was determined to pass. Finally, test day came and after all of my hard work…I failed. By 3 points I failed. I told the company and my folks and everyone was actually thrilled! I couldn’t believe it! They all said I could take it again in thirty days and would surely pass it the second time. They were right. I worked even harder and I passed the test.

There was a lot depending on that test. If I was going to have insurance and benefits and a job I needed to pass that test, so I did what it took to get it done. There was fire, almost a burn, inside of me and I wasn’t going to be beaten by something I could control with more effort. Yes, I knew my limitations, and I knew what others may have thought I should have done. The doctor was pretty clear with me about his expert opinion, and he didn’t think I frankly stood a chance. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? We’ve all faced a battle we can’t imagine we are facing and one we have a tough time believing we can conquer. This was me in 1997. They wanted me on a pill. I wanted to do this my way.

I love the song My Way by Frank Sinatra. It’s one of my personal favorites. I could listen to it on repeat for probably five hours. Actually, I have. It’s a selfish song, actually, and theologically a disaster, but it is such a great song. No, I didn’t listen to that that on my run either. But in a way I did you might say.

So, my playlist? I did it my way. I ran without a single lick of music the whole time. All seven plus hours I was music free, and it couldn’t have been a better decision. For some of you, this probably sounds impossible, but it’s really not. I know, because I used to feel like I always had to listen to music, too.

When you race without music its completely different and pretty amazing. It becomes about community, cheering for other runners as they go by you or as you pass them. Here’s a few words exchanged between me and my fellow runners last weekend –

“Great job man!”

“One more hill and we’re there Captain America!”

“You’re killing it! Almost finished!” “One more turn! One more turn!!!”

“You go girl!” “You go boy!”

“Did you see those creepy eyes in the woods? They were glowing! What’s up with that?” “Oh bleep. What the heck is that???”

“Love the headband dude.” “I wear it because it makes me faster.”

In the middle of the night, on my fourth leg, I knew what it would take for me to survive this monster run. My course led me 8.5 miles up a mountain on no sleep sometime close to 3 in the morning. Focus. It had to be all about my focus and push to get to the top of these insane mountainous hills. I needed all of my wits and energy driving me throughout the leg, and needed to pay attention to the other runners on a dark and treacherous leg. The silence around me sometimes was a bit creepy, but it allowed me to also pray and ask God for help.

“Nothing is impossible with God. Nothing is impossible with God.”

It was on repeat. Like a mantra. And not just for me, but for some of the other runners around me. I wouldn’t stop. I had to get to the top of those hills. Nothing could stop this from happening. If I walked, it was over and I knew it would be impossible to start running again. I had to keep moving. These words had to be more than words. They had to be something entirely different. They needed to be powerful and they needed to make me powerful. Things like this don’t happen for me with headphones on. Not out there. Not in the wild.

So, there was no playlist. Not once. Not this time, and maybe there never will be one again. Who knows where we go from here. Wherever my story takes me, it’s in the silence I’ll probably find the most strength.

One comment

  1. Great stuff Thad. Congrats to you and the team. When I ran 40 miles 6 years ago, I had no music. Occasionally a friend joined me and ran a few miles with me along my route. It was fantastic. I have run more often without music and gadgets. For me, they always seem to take something away. Almost forgot, I have done that 8.5 mile stretch up hill in the we hours of the morning. It is certainly not fun at the time, but once your done it’s just incredible knowing what you have accomplished.


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