Scott Waldrop, 43, is our plant-eating, axe-shredding, ultra-running, dog-vibing, recovery philosophizing, meditating metalhead. In other words, a pretty boring dude. He lives in Wake Forest, N.C., with his wife and fellow ambassador, Mary, and their teenage son, Scott. The elder Scott has been an Herren Project Ambassador since 2017.
How did you first get connected with Herren Project?
SCOTT: I was on a night-time training run for volunteer pacers at the Umstead Endurance Run in Raleigh N.C. a few years back. There were about 30 runners, but I heard this one voice drowning out all the rest. I thought, “Oh my god, who is THIS guy?” I guess I was reverting back to high school survival instinct, thinking I needed to get the loudest, most outgoing person on my side immediately. Maybe I have a natural aptitude for prison mentality.
Regardless, I went up to meet Mr. Loud Guy and it was Sean Nielsen (also a Herren Project Ambassador). Not sure what we said to break the ice, but we were friends instantly. Within the first minute, we found out we were both Rich Roll fan boys. Sean invited me on a road trip to the Boston Marathon the following week to run part of the Boston Quad (the Boston Marathon course four times) with David Clark.
I had already decided in recovery that my purpose was to ‘promote the joy of recovery and its limitlessness,’ so I was on the lookout for ways to start doing this. When I met Herren Project the energy was unlike anything I’d experienced. I loved everyone I met and wound up getting involved right away, joining the 2017 Leadville 100 Team.
What is your relationship to addiction and recovery?
SCOTT: I believe the purpose of our struggles is to expose our purpose on Earth. Like so many others, I went through abandonment, mental illness, and addiction, and consequently came out shining. My failures could ultimately be inverted into triumph. My crucible wasn’t becoming a Navy Seal or going to medical school, etc. I saw an unlikely Vol. 1, No. 1, September 2019 chance for greatness lying buried in the muck I’d created. I decided to alchemize my very existence from pronounced mediocrity to my best version through the vehicle of recovery. Recovery has afforded me a nonnegotiable “energy currency” which is more precious than silver or gold. It’s a diploma or credit report one cannot obtain via intellectual, laborious, or monetary means.
I stay vigilant over the aspects of me which tend to revert and devolve. I have what I call my “devotions” which keep me growing. If I go of ‘em too long, I start slipping with my “recovery game.” If we don’t grow, we stagnate, and that which stagnates ultimately dies.
Devotions can be actions such as writing this blog, interacting with like-minded growth-mindset people, keeping positive people in our nucleus, always being prepared for spontaneous helpfulness to others, being the change we like to see through demonstrable living, meditating, eating plants, moving the body, being grateful for everything even if we don’t understand, reading books which grow us spiritually, and listening to podcasts. These are goals. If I don’t live in perfect alignment with them, I don’t beat myself up. Devotions are actions which stimulate our mind, soul, and body towards growth. I strive to balance them in a healthy way. After all, it’s not necessarily a healthy goal to be perfectly healthy. Really, it all comes down to the quality of our interaction with our fellow humans. Are we spreading our light or the opposite? This is recovery to me.
What’s your message to people still struggling?
SCOTT: You can return. You’re not broken. You deserve happiness. Where you’ve been is not who you are. It’s never too late to be brand new. Think of the last time you felt happy and innocent. Think of the time before—when addiction didn’t cripple your mind and body with its anxiety, guilt, and depression. Focus, or pray, to return and reset yourself to this time. Be patient. Take a leap of faith that something greater than you wants the BEST for you, the VERY BEST that you can imagine. Believe it is possible. The path to peace is too often lost in its simplicity. BELIEVE anything is possible, not with your head but with your heart. Really believe it and feel it. The Universe will open up to you. It wants you to succeed and fulfill your purpose here.
You’re relatively new to ultra-running, but you regularly knock off 100-milers, ran the coast of North Carolina, and just ran 200 miles through the Cascade Mountains. Just what are you trying to prove?
SCOTT: Like all ultrarunners, I clearly have Daddy issues so it’s important that I constantly demonstrate how I’m a supernatural genius.
Seriously, ‘real talk’, there’s lots of people who come from addiction and do ultra-endurance. I’m fueled almost solely by recovery as opposed to status or exterior influences. I know I’m not reinventing the wheel, but the more of us turning our life around and doing epic stuff the better. I don’t expect to be the next poster child for this sort of lifestyle.
Our numbers show that extraordinary self-reinvention is possible for many people. So, I feel like I’m doing my part by ‘being the change I want to see’ and living my best life. Life is happening right now. There’s no dress rehearsal. We’re in this stuff in real time. Are we going to find out in the moment of death what we’ve always had in the moment of breath? We have limitless choices about what we can do and how we can feel in each moment. I’m really enjoying showing myself to the world through a lens which I dared never dream while using. I’m becoming a person I once admired yet was too emotionally and psychologically crippled to become or even aspire to.
In yogic traditions, some devotees believe the only thing which holds us back from the act of manipulating subatomic particles and walking through walls is our mere resistance to its possibility. It’s powerful to contemplate how much our own minds hold us back with the stories we tell ourselves, yet we still only 10% of our brain. I’m in the motions of demonstrating to myself my own boundlessness. I’m not ready to levitate yet, but I hope my adventurous spirit inspires others to face the dreams that scare them. There can never be too many of us demonstrating what is possible.
Moreover, we need to have a great ego to have a voice which slices through the white noise. Only we can give ourselves the authority to proclaim our masterfulness. We must get over the idea that someone needs to do this for us before we have the right to our voice. We’re born with our unique isolatable frequency and it’s our purpose here to use this unique frequency, though not to mimic another. If The Universe wanted us to copy someone else, then there would be no point in our individual existence. This isn’t to be confused with having a great ego to promote one’s selfishness or self-obsession. If the driving intention behind our ego is to manipulate circumstances for good,then we’re operating from our soul—that intrinsically loving and all-wise energy beneath our mask. So, ultrarunning is my expression of this great ego. Also, a few years ago I was day-drinking alone on my back porch with a bunch of malt liquor smoking bath salts. I mean, the personal excitement that I can actually do this sort of thing is still pretty fresh to me!
You have several dogs. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from them? And no saying “To live in the moment.”
SCOTT: My dogs have taught me how to give the gift of listening, how to unconditionally
concentrate love unto someone while listening quietly and deeply to them. This can really be the greatest gift you can give another. Listen to them and see them without letting your mind jump to what you want to interject. You’ll find that while listening deeply to someone they will reveal to you everything they need from you in that moment.
Years into sobriety, plant-based living, distance running, and meditating, I’ve noticed a curious thing—I’m very sensitive. When I put my forehead to my dog’s forehead and remain still within, we can sit there exchanging ‘peace energy’ all day. I can feel their soul. There’s this incredible energy between us more powerful than words. It’s trippy. I’m certain my dog could stay like that for 12 hours or so, but my chattering monkey mind is over it within a few minutes.
Dogs are hyper aware of our internal psychic health. They’re hyper aware of our intention. I believe the animals in our lives are more evolved than us and were sent here to have intimate relationships with us. They’re our closest companions which walk us through our mission. But they still eat each other’s poop, so ya know, God is mysterious.
What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
SCOTT: An entire wall of my man cave is plastered with Lady Gaga posters.