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Long Runs, Binary Functions, and Coronavirus

#AskAway With Coach MK! 3/8/20

Coach MK livestreams question and answer sessions each week on the Fitness Protection Program Facebook Page, The Fitness Protection Program YouTube Channel, and Twitch, simultaneously. Join us! They are a lot of fun, super informative, and anyone may ask follow-up questions during the live broadcast!

This week, Coach MK discusses creative ways to get runs in, cutback weeks, the purpose 20-milers serve in marathon training, and tells you what 'womxn' now means to her.

Running Life Fitness Protection Program Podcast Gender Binary Coronavirus

Has the first week of March been fun OR WHAT???? Mercury is in retrograde until March 10, so don’t let your guard down just yet! Full moon coming tomorrow night, bringing new energy. COME ON BIG MOON ENERGY!

Did anyone run the LA Marathon today? Did you stay 6 feet from everyone around you? I do NOT envy the race directors- the cancellation of South by Southwest is a HUGE hit to Austin, roughly $430 million dollars. These events are a big deal, and cancelling them is a bigger deal. I want to be clear: we are not making light of the situation, there are no easy answers.

I would like to say a THANK YOU to all first responders and health care providers, especially the ones who are still doing their jobs even though they cannot get their hands on antibacterial hand gel, face masks, or toilet paper. This is a reminder to everyone that if you are nervous enough to wear an N95 mask, and could afford one for each of your family members before they sold out everywhere, you probably have the ability to stay home and/or work remotely. Please exercise that privilege and leave the masks to the health care providers who have the option to stay home but instead are bravely continuing to show up and provide care.

Speaking of coronavirus, If you have OCD and your anxiety levels are rising in tandem with the price of hand sanitizer, if all this talk about washing your hands and public shaming of people who may not have done so that one time is wearing on you or triggering you, I want you to know that I see you.

You may have heard that today is a gendered holiday. You may have noticed that it isn’t one we acknowledge on a corporate level. For years, I have used the term womxn out of respect to my transgender friends, thinking the term made space for them in a movement and a world that typically doesn’t. I know all too well how important identity can be, the strain the continual demand for societal and family acceptance can put on a person’s mental health. To me, that x was a reminder that not every person who identifies as female has a vagina, and not everyone with a vagina identifies as female. In this, I failed to consider the experience of GNC and non-binary individuals. Our newest hire shared this Instagram story with me ( and it is worth your time. Like race, gender is a construct that has been used to oppress, erase and deny. I’m not sure celebrating it brings us closer to equity. It acknowledges where we are, but not where we want to be in the future. I have no idea how to avoid using gendered language to discuss a gendered holiday, but going forward there will be a post-it on my brain when I see the x in womxn, remembering those who have been and continue to be overlooked when discussing the equality and equity gaps.

I don’t need to know anything about you in order to coach you and I don’t need to see your body to love it and know that you’ve been underestimating what it’s capable of. YAY for that super low bar society set! Makes it easy for us to win around here! You are worthy, capable, and enough, and if you are HERE, you will feel it. That’s what it means to be #coachedandloved and #winningatlife.

Accounts to follow on IG:








  • Katie- lost 250 pounds OVERNIGHT! Congratulations for getting rid of ALL that dead weight, while simultaneously freeing up ALL KINDS OF space in your calender, and frankly, in your head, too. You are a wonderful person, and frankly, I’m THRILLED to know there is one less person in your life wasting your time. Put on some pretty earrings while you listen to Monday’s mantra, I wrote it just for you!

  • Kaitlin Henry Meilser: “I ran my 10k this morning and despite almost no sleep last night due to an overly excited toddler and mind, I felt really good. My heart rate monitor fell around my waist in the first half mile, but I ran by feel and tried to pace myself so that I could finish strong—last two miles were the fastest. Met my pace goal, and I just ran a tough half last weekend. Plus it was a Wine 10k, so there were mimosas at the finish.” LOOKS LIKE THAT EXTRA DAY IN BED WAS A GOOD CHOICE! YAY YOU!

  • Patricia O'Connell - I ran in a 10K, got second in my age group, and came home to find CDC recommends people my age (61) avoid crowds!?!?! I washed my hands when I got home.

  • Stacy Clark- To be honest, I am sort of freelancing the running thing right now. I would say I'm Maintain-ish for the time being while I focus on finding a good balance of all the things I really want to do in the little time I have to do it. Anyway! I ran my "long" run today of 70 minutes on the treadmill. CONGRATULATIONS FOR DOING EXACTLY WHAT WE WANT YOU TO DOOOOO!

  • Amy Loukus- her kids are in the state playoffs, and STILL took her run clothes on the road

  • Katie - was accepted into a fellowship program at the University of Arizona in Integrative Medicine; its a two year program and at the end, I can get board certified so will be double boarded in Pediatrics and Integrative Medicine. Also, congratulations on the stable SI joint, that is HUGE!

  • Get Well Soon, Suzanne! Brenda, we are all relieved that your husband is doing better.

  • Congratulations to everyone preparing for 3DATF- this was your first week of doubles in the long run sandwich, AND YOU LIVED! Proud of you!

Weekly Wins

  • Katy is done with radiation! YAYAYAYAYAY!!!! Ringing the bell for you over here! I know you think you lack of motivation, and you think that you’re physically able to do more than you are. 28 radiation sessions. You crushed the bejeezus out of cancer. Cancer that was in your body. So yeah, you’re tired. I understand how frustrating ongoing lethargy can be. I really do. For now, listen to your body and REST because pretty soon this will pass and coronavirus will too and YOU NEVER WILL NOT REST ANY MORE BECAUSE THERE ARE RACES AND THINGS AND STUFF AND OMG SO MUCH!

  • A second win from Katy: My work gives everyone their birthday off, but you don't have to use it on your birthday. I'm actually going to take my birthday off this week. I hoard PTO like crazy and considering I have another surgery this year, I can't believe I'm taking the time, but I just really need a day to myself.


  • Kerry - my weekly win is moving my body again, even if it wasn’t that beautiful outdoor run I was imagining on this sunny mid-40s day.

  • Megan O'Brien Ruyle Moving my body more, being outside more, both of which are important to my mental health.

  • 3 PT sessions completed and I'm feeling a bit better. I'm enjoying more time with my kids, going out with friends and reading.


  • Amy Bell - second month in ReBuild, working on her consistency; nailed 3 runs per week last month in Lane 1, and is looking to make it 4-5 this month. WE ARE SO PROUD!

  • Hi Coach, I’ve been doing really well with being more consistent with my runs and getting my strength in, but I’m really struggling with where to fit in longer weekday runs. I am hoping you might have some creative solutions for how to fit the longer sessions in. I leave for work at 7am so I am limited with how much I can do in the before work. The earliest I am able to get home is 5pm with bed at 9pm. I am not allowed to leave my worksite after lunch so that is out and I have a toddler at home. I promise I’m not trying to make excuses, but I’m running out of ways to move the puzzle pieces around to get all of the life things done. Any creative ways to get runs in are appreciated. Thank you so much!!

  • So I know the 150 HR is a cap not a target, but is there a physiological benefit to the higher heart rate or is it mainly a psychological/compliance issue and falls into the category of generally won’t hurt.


  • CONGRATULATIONS to Elizabeth, for finishing her first week in Maintain! She says she only feels like she has one speed she can maintain- super slow, and she looks forward to that changing.

  • Finished my 2nd marathon ramp 20 miler. It was hard!!!!! And now I’m in the self doubt phase of how in the world will I be able to do 6 more miles. Trying not to think about that too much and focus on enjoying the taper!

  • Is there a next start date set for slow burn? And is there a way I can preview it?

  • Hi, coach! I am doing a 10-miler in a couple weeks. I've looked at the plan you've posted in Maintain about how to taper for a half, so I think I'm good with race prep. But I'm not sure about a race plan. I've done quite a few half and full marathons, so I have race strategies for those, but I'm just not as familiar with what to do with myself in a 10 mile race. Would I base my pace off my 140 bpm pace? Are there heart rate averages or maximums I should be considering? Any advice for a 10-miler race plan would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!

  • For 3DATF training, if we come to a week and find we are in need of a cutback week, what adjustments do you recommend be made to the weekday and weekend runs in order to come back the next week ready to progress?

  • Sometimes on a long run it takes almost three miles to settle in and have my heartrate around 140. By then I have often given up and decided to cut the run short. Any suggestions? I find constantly stopping to walk very frustrating.

  • Hi, mk,. I have been using the maintain plan relatively consistently since January (I think).…..I am also looking at using your tenacious plan for an early June marathon. I am looking for suggestions on how to keep my CrossFit type workouts in the plan without burning myself out? I'm planning to run 4 days per week but love my gym!(am i over~reacting or worried about nothing?) Any input would be great!

  • Can you help me rearrange the weekly schedule please? I’m going to try putting my LR on Wednesday. So Thursday would be a rest day. I’d like Sunday to be my choose your own adventure day. With these three days set, how do you recommend I plug in the others? Thanks!

Moment of Clarity

A listener wrote in, responding to Coach MK's ADHD Video Series:

"Hi MK!!!! I'm on spring break so I finally get to share this with you. I didnt watch all of your ADHD vids or read everything because if I'm reading these days, it's usually a textbook... but! what little I did watch/read from your posts inspired me. After surgery I was diagnosed with it. My support system pushed me to request accommodations for testing (extra time and a distraction free space). I absolutely HATED this idea. If I'm gonna be a nurse, I should be able to do everything without any "accommodations", but I eventually requested them after several pushes. I am thankful I have these, and I know now they will not affect my ability to save lives once I graduate. I'm telling you all of this because a few weeks ago, someone in my cohort said that those who utilize accommodations dont belong in the program. "If they cant handle the rigor of the program, they shouldnt be in it." Naturally, it was right before a quiz that I heard this, I took my quiz in the accommodations center in 1/3 of the time... a totally emotional reaction to her comment. thankfully, I did well on the quiz, but I was angry I let that get to me. Your MK empowering voice popped up afterwards. I decided to confront my classmate. Although I wasnt comfortable confronting her face to face, I sent her a text that I am incredibly proud of. This is the text: "I did not want to make a scene, but I felt really hurt hearing another classmate thinks I and many other of our peers should not be in our program because of testing accommodations. Not that I need to, but I would be happy to sit down with you in person, and explain accommodations, what their purpose is, and educate you on why they are used in this program. We are supposed to bring eachother up, not tear one another down and make an already extremely difficult program even harder. It's also discrimination, and I would be happy to educate you about that in person some time as well, if you would like." I'm not sure what your opinions on accommodations are, I know today they are trying to teach school age kids coping mechanisms so they wont have to request them. I just needed to share how empowered I felt when I sent that text, and to forward some credit to you, a super powerful and empowering woman who often speaks up about things no one wants to speak up about. I dont think I could have confronted that issue without your presence in my world. (Idk how to say that eloquently without coming across as creepy/weird...) thank you. Happy Womans day MK, and thanks for being an amazing role model!! I hope once I finally get out of school to make as much of an impact on people as you are."

Coach MK responds in bullet points below:

  • Even my closest friends like to remind me that I throw around ‘too much’ or ‘unnecessary’ information. Even those who think of themselves as feminists don't always realize the impact the patriarchy has on them- “TMI” is used to shut womxn up. When is the last time you heard a man accused of TMI-ing? It’s a character assassination.

  • What they are attempting to convey is that I’ve said something that makes them uncomfortable. I am not unaware of this. I just don’t care. Especially if what I’m saying reduces the stigma and shame others may feel. You feeling empowered to speak up for yourself in a way that made you feel safe and comfortable is proof that this type of communication is still, unfortunately, very necessary.

  • Let me be clear here: you owe the world nothing. Live your life, take your journey step by step, live your truth and you WILL inspire others. Speak when you are ready, not when you are pressured. I didn’t really start speaking up until I was 37. That’s 4 years ago.

  • Let’s unpack some of the things you said, I care about what YOU think about your condition because your perception informs your reality.

  • ADHD has nothing to do with the ability to handle rigor. Throughout my career, I have done intense, time-pressured, detailed stuff. KNOW that you are capable, and do not ever try to prove it. That’s dangerous. You’ll start volunteering for all kinds of things you don’t want to do and don’t serve you if you live your life combating the perception that you don’t belong or treating your ADHD like the bottom half of a fraction you can cancel out with action. That’s not how it works, but that’s the bar many of us think we have to set for ourselves. Showing up, doing good work, being a good person and being self-aware enough to know what will and will not work for you will get you everywhere in life.

  • ADHD is REAL. It’s typically presented in the media as a hyperactive child who doesn’t listen and runs around in circles, but that portrayal is reductive and incomplete.

  • That SHOULD go without saying, BUT we live in a world where the wealthy and privileged have abused our condition as well as our medication, decreasing everyone else’s access to the vital support systems many non-neuronotmative individuals like us need in order to function in normative environments. Now I’m not a nurse but I”m pretty sure you won’t have to take tests in your day job, meaning you will in fact be able to do your job without accommodations, so that logic is flawed.

  • Those accommodations are there for a REASON. The mechanisms you referenced take YEARS to learn, you shouldn’t have to pay a penalty for a late in life diagnosis. You are not lesser, and you are NOT cheating. The accommodations you are given are NOT tantamount to an unfair advantage to normative individuals who are capable of functioning unassisted in these environments. If they think they need accommodations too, they can go get tested just like you did. Their reality is not your problem, all you gotta take care of is you.

  • ADHD is not your limiting factor. Your beliefs about ADHD absolutely ARE. If you are not in therapy, get in there and take it seriously. Find a therapist you connect with, and use them for more than medication management. It’s an opportunity, it’s a gift. Use it. So many people need therapy but will never have a reason to go or the impetus to start. But YOU are #coachednadloved and #winningatlife.

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