A Seat At The Table
Updated: Nov 9, 2019
Between The Headlines, Running News 11/10/19
If it’s coming out of my mouth, it’s probably been on your mind. (You’re welcome!)
This is my space to share my take on what’s NOT being said as well as the things that ARE said but are not heard.
How the F*CK are we STILL talking about Nike????
Sigh. I’m tired of talking about Nike.
Yet, here we go:
I’m opinionated. This is probably my defining characteristic. I do NOT expect anyone to share my views, I DO expect everyone to listen and back off when their views cause me hurt, anger or discomfort. In my personal life, I bend over backwards to give everyone around me a WIDE berth for their own methods and opinions; I can express my views without attacking someone else’s.
In my professional life, I STILL bend over backwards not to impugn other coaches. When it comes to perspectives on training techniques or specific coaching cues, I can disagree and keep my mouth shut. These disagreements define us as coaches and usually reflect only our experiences and our desire to create effective cues.
I tell you that so that when I tell you this you know I don’t say it lightly: Your Run Coach Does Not Need To Know Your Weight To Do Their Job Effectively.
Before you come at me about the importanz uf nummers ‘n DATA URMAGURR, check out my resume and then check yourself.
Weight is a bullsh*t metric that doesn’t say anything about you. Not about your fitness level, not about your general health, not about your athletic potential, not about your work ethic. As a singular data point it’s right up there with age and pace.
There is only ONE case for tracking weight. ONE. I explain that case here:
This is precisely what makes Salazar so maddening and the Mary Cain story so heartbreaking.
Alberto Salazar was not weighing his athletes to ensure their health and safety.
Alberto Salazar was not calculating the amount of body fat lost on workouts.
There was no team nutritionist calculating which nutritional inputs were necessary for the runners to perform at their best on a day-to-day basis and ensuring they received those inputs
we’re still not sure how much coordination actually existed in this team of ‘experts’.
A leader obsessed about a singular data point to the detriment of his team and NO ONE on his team of experts called him out on his amateurish, simplistic thinking
NEVERMIND that the data point he chose was detached from science as well as reality
In fact, by all accounts, his team and his employer enabled him.
I’ve spoken at length about the danger of a single data point. To be clear, this is not how data works, analysis requires tracking multiple independent data points and their movement over time. Salazar abused numbers as well as the athletes in his care.
Why he was allowed to get away with this for so long is complicated. We have normalized bad behaviour in talented men for so long we practically expect all male geniuses to be butt-heads (something we arguably don’t tolerate in women); we chalk it up to ‘passion’ and ‘commitment’. Part of it is our desire to win so much we don’t care what winning costs. Part of it is a long history of abusive coaching, trusting that coaches wouldn’t go there unless absolutely necessary because they are human. And part of it is thinking that this is what love and concern looks like.
Need a laugh? Two hilarious takes on this topic: Hannah Gadsby on Picasso, and Sona Movsesisan on Michaelangelo in the first 10 minutes of this Conan O’Brien podcast episode.
Salazar may be out but the garbage press release Nike issued in response to Mary Cain’s NYT story indicates that change isn’t coming. Several people had to vet and approve this message before it was released. Remember, Nike is a HUGE company. Their running program is a drop in their very large bucket, and that bucket also supports Megan Rapinoe and Serena Williams and recently hired Shalane Flanagan.
Shalane Flanagan. Sigh. Bowerman Track Club is funded by Nike, the company with the notoriously garbage culture that let Salazar abuse Mary Cain and sanctioned a press release maligning her. Shalane is a trailblazer we all love, a retired runner who wants to coach. She’s the reason some of us wouldn’t completely cancel Nike in recent years...and now she may be the person who has to answer for future Nike fuckery, even fuckery that is beyond her control.
Shalane is about to learn the same hard lessons so many of us did about having a seat at the table: Decisions aren't made there, crises are managed; a seat is not the same as having influence. What did they invite her to the table to do, exactly? What role is she expected to perform? Will that change if more women come forward?
Nike performs supporting women beautifully, even though we know it isn’t true. Is Shalane the top half of the Salazar fraction, supporting her cancels out their support of him? Will her public-facing job essentially become Nike defender? Does Nike care that she may be put in this position? Do they really have her back? Will they still if she calls them out? Or will she get the Goucher treatment? #karagoucher #neverforget
Either way, Shalane is now part of the Nike machine. I hope they will let her be part of their solution, but I’m tired of hoping for better and I am REALLY tired of talking about Nike. Most of all, I'm tired of watching the Nike Machine chew up and spit out female leaders in sport.
Just Do Better, Nike.
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NOW for your Nuzzel News Outtakes!
Only ten articles will fit in my weekly Nuzzel; everything else worth reading is right here! Seriously, I read everything so you won't have to, but collect the links so you may.
I wish this week had been about DES LINDEN AND THE BEST INTERVIEW EVER, but we can't have nice things!
Very seriously, I've been doing the Nuzzel newsletter for 15 months now, and this week's is BY FAR my favorite collection yet.
These stories were the hardest to cut:
This week was all about the NYC Marathon and Mary Cain while the IAAF went unnoticed; it was holding Nike's beer.
Top Story: Mary Cain
"Cain’s story might be superlatively horrifying, and her accusations go well beyond simple misunderstanding of female biology ... but the treatment of her weight, and the lack of understanding of how extreme workouts were affecting her body, is part of a much broader problem, and not just one that affects women with large brand partnerships."
"And luckily, athletes like Kara Goucher, Alysia Montaño, Allyson Felix, Lauren Fleshman, and now Mary Cain have created for themselves a safe space from which to shout the truth of their experiences; without those safe, alternative spaces where speaking truth to power is celebrated and 'stick to sports' is rightfully recognized as suppression, there would be no story."
"Instead of becoming a symbol of girls’ unlimited potential in sports, Cain became yet another standout young athlete who got beaten down by a win-at-all-costs culture. Girls like Cain become damaged goods and fade away. We rarely hear what happened to them. We move on."
NYC Marathon News Recap
BEST OF THE WEEK
"It was a year in which running had to confront thorny questions. Who counts as a woman? What do those women deserve in terms of compensation, and who is keeping them from getting it? There were even debates about what counts as a world record, and what counts as a proper shoe."
Truly appreciative of Lindsay Crouse and other journalists like her who have captured these debates in breathtaking depth and detail throughout.
"The team showed up in newly tie-dyed shirts, standing apart from the other teams in their official matching shorts and singlets. Not surprisingly, they were also in possession of a large case of nerves, but Ann says Gilbert managed that well. “He was a practical coach,” she says, “and he had to work hard with us to help with our confidence.”
LOVE this uplifting story by Amanda Loudin!
ReBuilding and Injury
"I remember getting up after my first day of training and asking myself, ‘How did I ever get that good?’"
Rebuilding is HARDER than any other work you will do as a runner, even if you are among the world's best.
"Men, from what I’ve gathered, mostly keep trudging along toward a certain ideal, without ever really discussing with one another why they are doing it, or if that extra gym set is actually addressing the root of their insecurities."
YES. Body image is an issue for men, too, and weight loss doesn't solve their problems, either.
"Garcia said she was lucky that the university had resources for her to first accept, and then treat, her eating disorder — and they paid for it. Not all athletes at NCAA-regulated schools have that option, so many choose between treatment and other bills."
Important reminder today and always that if someone seems to be struggling with disordered eating, they need the help of someone who specializes in disordered eating. I wish more collegiate athletes in need were given this kind of help (and I love it when a story like this ends well).
As Seen On Our FB Pages
"Functional strength exercises are designed to strengthen multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Unlike a single muscle exercise such as a bicep curl, functional strength exercises like as a push-up, strengthen all of the muscles in a body area simultaneously. When you move normally, muscles work together, so it makes more sense to exercise them together as well.”
EXACTLY! This is why we are ALL about the functional strength in Fitness Protection!
WADA's investigation is expanding, they're going after all of his athletes
Movement can help depression unless you train with a narcissistic asshole
Nothing To Do With Running
Coach MK Fleming is the founder of Fitness Protection, LLC where she coaches all kinds of runners for $30 per month and gives marathon plans away for free. She LOVES being a hobbyjogger as well as a mom of 4 and thanks God every day for unanswered prayers #thankGodWeAreNotElite