What happens when you have two very big but different dreams vying for your focus? Do you choose one? Or do you risk it all to pursue both?
This was the dilemma faced by today’s guest—a woman who knows a thing or two about what it takes to execute at the highest level.
Meet Alexi Pappas—Olympic athlete. Award-winning writer. Poet. Filmmaker. And so much more.
An extraordinary runner, Alexi set the Greek national record in the 10,000-meters and competed for Greece at the 2016 Olympic Games. An equally noteworthy artist, her words have graced the pages of The New York Times, Runner’s World, Women’s Running Magazine, Sports Illustrated, The Atlantic, and Outside.
Not enough? In the exact same year she competed in the Olympics, she also co-wrote, co-directed, and starred alongside Rachel Dratch in Tracktown, her first feature film. Executing on just one of these goals is an exceptional accomplishment. Doing both in parallel is downright superhuman.
More recently, Alexi co-wrote and starred alongside Nick Kroll in Olympic Dreams, the first non-documentary-style movie to ever be filmed at the actual Olympic Games.
Profiled in every major publication from Sports Illustrated to Rolling Stone, my interest was recently piqued by an amazing New York Times OpDoc (produced by friend of the pod Lindsay Crouse), which poignantly portrays the emotional toll of chasing an Olympic dream.
In her excellent new memoir Bravey, Alexi dives deeper. An exuberant and unflinching primer on the struggle of self-actualization, it’s the beautiful story of surviving trauma and navigating disparate dreams—filmmaking and athletics—in competition for her attention. Why she refused to pick just one lane. And how, setbacks and deep lows aside, Alexi ultimately succeeds at both.
How is possible that this human is so good at so many things simultaneously? And what is the cost (if any) of setting the bar so high?
I needed to know more.
run like a bravey
sleep like a baby
dream like a crazy
replace can’t with maybe
– ALEXI PAPPAS
This is a conversation about the courage required to blaze your own path. It’s about self-belief. And it’s about setting audacious goals and how to work towards them.
It’s also about depression, loss and sacrifice.
It’s about the intersection of athletics and art. And how to prioritize synergy over balance.
But more than anything, this is about what Alexi calls being bravey.
In Alexi’s case, trauma helped fuel her success. But it was in healing that trauma that she learned to thrive—and find the joy in the journey.
The visually inclined can watch our exchange on YouTube. And as always, the podcast streams wild and free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
This one’s for all the Braveys and soon-to-become Braveys seeking to replace can’t with maybe.
Alexi is my new favorite person. Tune in and discover why.
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- Alexi Pappas: Website | Instagram | Twitter
- Book: Bravey
- IMDB: Alexi Pappas
- NYT OpDocs: I Achieved My Wildest Dreams. Then Depression Hit.
- NY Times: Alexi Pappas Veers Far From Her Lane
- Rolling Stone: Inside the Fascinating Mind of Olympic Runner Alexi Pappas
- Sports Illustrated: Running Is the Outlet That Unites Us All During the Coronavirus Crisis
- Film: Tracktown
- Film: Olympic Dreams
- CNN: Filmmaker and elite marathon runner, Alexi Pappas wants to make sure ‘the complete person is happening’
- CNN: The Olympic distance runner who writes and stars in her own films
- ESPN: Alexi Pappas, a track athlete and filmmaker, stars in the first movie to be shot in the Olympic Village
- The Atlantic: I’ve Been Training for the Olympics, and Pushing the Games Back Was the Right Call
- Runner’s World: Alexi Pappas Shares How She Fueled for a Huge PR in Houston
- Variety: Film Review: ‘Olympic Dreams’
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