Founderfit Profiles #1: Casey Neistat Runs A Lot
When we’re forced to choose between our work and our well-being, too many entrepreneurs and executives willfully neglect their health — often prioritizing the company or career above all else.
There’s no doubt that success demands sacrifice. At the same time, the concept of balance is totally overrated. But that doesn’t mean we should dig our own grave.
In hopes of driving that fact home, through a series of Founderfit profiles, we’ll be exploring the healthy habits of world-class achievers and successful entrepreneurs.
Today, we’ll look at how Casey Neistat manages to create more videos and run more miles than pretty much anyone.
Who: Casey Neistat
If you’re not familiar, Casey Neistat is a filmmaker, entrepreneur, and one of the most influential and recognizable creators on YouTube.
After selling his start-up, Beme, to CNN for an estimated $20 million, Neistat recently announced his new company: 368, a creative/collaborative space for YouTubers, podcasters, and other content creators.
Daily vlogs and running
If Neistat is known for anything, creating daily vlogs and running are both high atop that list.
Casey is a runner. He runs pretty much everyday. If you watch any of his vlogs, you’ll probably see him pounding the pavement on the West Side Highway bike path. This has been his go-to running spot in New York City for years (when he’s not traveling).
For him, running is a way to stay in shape, relieve stress, and get work done. In an interview with Runner’s World, Neistat said:
“Running is where I get most of my work done… Every major decision I’ve made in the last eight years has been prefaced by a run… I plot out the day, figure out the movie, write scripts. I stop a lot and take notes on my phone.”
Instead of trying to find the perfect workout regimen or maintain a complicated training program, Neistat just gets out there and runs. “I am absolutely horrible at training,” he said. “I give almost no thought to it. There’s almost no structure. It’s however much time I have in a day.”
This approach — “do what you can, when you can” and ”be consistent, not perfect” — is incredibly useful for anyone who’s “too busy” to exercise. It’s also a powerful example of how showing up consistently and being “good enough” compound over time.
Returning to this case study, let’s again take Neistat as example: his drive and consistency has led him to complete four IRONMAN triathlons, more than 20 marathons, and hundreds of shorter races. Yeah, that’s pretty intense — but that’s how Neistat likes it.
“You’ll never run again”
While running has become an essential part of Neistat’s life, he didn’t get serious about running until his mid-20s. His motivation to get started actually stemmed from an unfortunate accident.
When he was 25, Neistat was hit by a car while riding a Vespa, breaking his femur in 27 places.
The bone had to be replaced with a titanium rod that was screwed directly into his hip. At the onset of the recovery process, the doctor told Casey he’d never be back to normal, never run, and forever live with the impact of the accident. Neistat was determined to prove the doctor wrong and succeeded in doing exactly that.
“The brain is what matters and the body is just there to keep this thing running”
Neistat’s rational for running and wanting to stay healthy is pretty simple — he sees exercise as a means of improving and maintaining his mind. In one vlog, he said, “The brain is what matters and the body is just there to keep this thing running.” In an interview with Men’s Health, he went on to say, “Your brain is so valuable and without your body it’s limited.”
For Neistat, his healthy habits extend beyond running — he believes “Indulgence until the point of sabotage is completely unnecessary.” So, that means “no drugs, no smoking, minimal drinking and a healthy diet” go along with all the exercise he does.
But, like most of us, Neistat struggles to maintain every aspect of his healthy habits. For him, sleep and healthy eating are the most troublesome. On his diet, in his own words, Neistat’s no model of consistency. “I eat nothing but candy. My wife describes it that I am one of two extremes: I eat entirely raw vegan… or I eat nothing but candy and cheeseburgers.”
And when it comes to sleep, he rarely gets enough. But here’s how he justifies it: “This is a theory of mine… I think you can supplement sleep with exercise. Say you sleep eight hours a night. If you spent two of those hours exercising and slept six hours, you’d be less tired and in general feel better.” Yeah, Neistat’s sleep theory is definitely a personal opinion and not proven science, but it’s helped him manage periods with high workloads without breaking his running habit.
When it comes to his priorities, Neistat leaves no doubt — he’s all about work, family, exercise, and sleep. In fact, he engineers his days around those priorities and the belief that, “Free time is the enemy of progress.”
Given the number of miles he logs, the amount of content he creates, and the trajectory of his career, it seems to be working for him.
And that last statement is probably the most important takeaway: it’s working for him.
If you’re trying to create healthy habits, you don’t have to copy Neistat’s approach. In fact, you shouldn’t even try. Instead, commit to figuring out what approach will work best for you.
Being busy isn’t an excuse and neither is creating the perfect diet or workout routine. Make your health a priority — as best you can — Every. Single. Day.
Quick question… How do you prioritize work, exercise, sleep, eating healthy, family, etc.? Leave a comment to let me know what you think of this article or recommend someone I should profile next.