top of page
  • Writer's picturecoachmk

Loud Winter

Between The Headlines, Running News 11/24/19

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. If it’s coming out of my mouth, it’s probably been on your mind. (You’re welcome!)

Silent Spring Truth to Power Distance Running Coaching Abuse
As Opposed to a "Silent Spring"

On Monday I finally sat down to listen to Kara Goucher interviewing Mary Cain. to call it 'heartbreaking' is an understatement- I was completely shattered.

On Wednesday, my mother called to tell me that a dear friend from my childhood had been murdered by her husband. Did I say I was shattered on Monday? I stand corrected.

Kara Goucher has been advocating for clean sport since 2014, demanding that we not look away from doping, that WADA take its job seriously. I wonder if she saw where this conversation would lead, morphing into a bigger conversation about abuse? She did not receive much support back then; today, she is a hero. Once Salazar’s ban was handed down, Mary Cain added her voice to the conversation and changed absolutely everything.

Hindsight is always 20/20, so it’s easy to ask today why an athlete would have ever joined the NOP and its tainted brand. I’ve explained in previous posts that there just weren’t that many options (there are more today but not enough to absorb all current pro runners if they left en masse), and who says Salzar’s was the worst? He’s just the first. Phoebe Wright says it better than I do: “When you’re in a powerless position & the rest of your career is totally dependent on what you do, you aren’t going to burn bridges. You don’t have many bridges to walk across.

Jordan joined NOP in 2013, right after Mary Cain joined (fall 2012) and right before Kara Goucher left (2014). This article is one gut-punch after another:

“"Our biggest goal for this year is to get my butt bigger. I need a sprinter's butt. Alberto actually lined us all up at practice. He wants us to have more of a bubble butt and mine is kind of flat. In the end that is something we've really been working on and especially my upper body as well. That is a big component of our program. And I do work with a nutritionist and we're trying to build muscle - especially in my butt. And so hopefully that is going to help my kick."]. After reflecting on Salazar's "Gluteus To The Maximus Plan", Hasay smiles and adds, "In the Oregon Project we think of every little thing."

When we are winning we are willing to minimize questionable behavior, like the head coach of the most famous and well-funded pro running team on the planet lining his female athletes up and comparing their butts. We want to believe that behavior serves a purpose, that this is where greatness comes from. So when a high school coach does the same thing to teenagers in their vulnerable years, that coach has a credible data point backing him up. Well, Salazar does it, why shouldn’t I? We want to WIN! Scholarships are worth it! When Jordan says this is ‘the best job in the world’, and seriously WHAT ELSE COULD SHE SAY??, girls who are questioning these methods question themselves instead. If this is what it takes, I need to suck it up, I need more mental strength, this will be GOOD for me! This is how bad behavior becomes codified and spreads like a plague we refuse to see.

Today, this article reads VERY differently than it did in 2014 and that’s why it’s important to look back and talk about it, to see the things we didn’t see before, to learn. Even if that learning has us looking back at our own experiences and seeing them very differently. Especially if it causes us to view our heroes differently.

The language we use when we talk about these things matters, too. For example, we now know that an underage person cannot consent to a relationship with an adult, especially if that adult is in a position of power; using language to minimize the atrocity is neither accurate nor fair. It’s widespread because we want to be fair, innocent until proven guilty and all, and abusers will use that to their advantage. It’s overwhelming.

When we ask ourselves if anything will change, it’s tempting to say ‘no’. I, however, think things ARE changing. To quote the Jordan article, “if 22-yo Jordan can summon the patience to trust the process and enjoy the journey, perhaps those of us who are overanxious to witness faster progression should do the same.”

The fact that we are seeing these ugly, deeply-rooted things, is new. The fact that we are talking about them, is new. Rapid and radical changes are unlikely to stick, so even though we are NOT patient we may finally have a process we can trust by adding our own voices to the conversation, waiting for our Mary Cain Moment.

This week, as I mourn Leann and refuse to couch her murder in more palatable terms, I see the importance of these conversations in a new light. Frank speech sustains democracy. By adding our voices, we are part of the process that will change everything. This process is one I can trust.

I’m proud to be facilitating these conversations in Fitness Protection. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m tired of polite conversation. I’m tired of pretending things are okay. I’m tired of hoping for change; I’ve been waiting 20 years for Kara Goucher and Mary Cain and this conversation about abuse. Wherever the conversation leads, I’ll follow with my voice, guided by the memory of the very first person who openly and publicly protected me from bullies.

RIP, LeAnn. I’ll take it from here. It's gonna be a loud winter.

If you are not famililar with "silent Spring", start here.

Maybe next week I’ll feel ready to hear this podcast with Shelby Houlihan. I love how her family calls themselves, ‘Houlifans’ and that is just FUN!

Coach MK

Mark Your Calendars for the 2020 Goal-Setting Webinar!

Content Roundup

  • New Nuzzel HERE

  • New CL Newsletter HERE

  • New FPP Newsletter HERE

  • New FPP Podcast HERE (or click on the pictures below)

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 KARA GOUCHER CRUSHING HER FIRST ULTRA, but we can't have nice things!

These stories were the hardest to cut:

Top Story: Body Composition

This blog post hit my news feed on Tuesday morning. I thought, "SH+T, I'd better write something before our people read this. Coach Sarah Luehrman Axelrod tweeted me the link a few minutes later, having the reaction I expected.

Then the emails began.

Misogyny in medical science is real, and the cues are conflicting and confusing. For example, women were not allowed to run longer distances than 800m because our uterusus may fall out. Long jumping though? NO PROBLEM! Myths about women’s bodies still persist today, making articles this this a frustrating necessity.

I’m really and truly glad that Jenn had a positive experience. It’s important to note the following points, though:

  • Her experience appears to be the exception to the rule

  • Her experience does NOT cancel out all of the stories we are hearing this week

  • Runners at the highest levels should not have to seek out these resources on their own

  • NO ONE says weight doesn’t matter or should be eliminated from the conversation entirely.

  • Jenn isn’t talking to us. Neither is Matt. They are elites, they are MACHINES, it’s a different conversation entirely. They are talking about making an efficient, genetically gifted machine more efficient so as to outmatch its competition.

  • How you lose the weight can never be ignored; changing that data point changes the overall efficiency of the machine


At that level, body composition matters but not for the reasons you think. I’ve discussed my approach to race weight before; it’s an efficiency and safety floor for my female elites...and I’ve never had to use it. That any coach would fixate on weight or butt size alone blows my mind. Disordered eating in high-achievers is a very real concern. It’s why I actively avoid the use of the word, “performance”. The motivated will do damn near anything for the sake of performance. It’s my job to tell them when to stop.

Alex Lanton joined us for this week’s podcast, breaking down the danger of fixating on a single data point, no matter which one you choose. When you’re winning, everything can look smart. When you’re not, can you still justify the things you are doing?

Hindsight is always 20/20, and right now it’s hard to look at anyone involved with NOP and see geniuses. It’s almost as hard to see what Jenn thought she was adding to the conversation with her post. Good outcomes like hers are possible for sure, but never guaranteed. I wouldn’t wish Mary Cain’s story on anyone, but there aren’t safeguards in place to prevent it. THAT is where the conversation is, and needs to remain: decoupling ‘coaching’ from ‘abuse’. There is never a good excuse for bad behavior, even in the world of performance sport.

Close Second: Sigh. Jordan Hasay.

To be crystal clear: I support her wholeheartedly, I do NOT think she dopes, and I am POSITIVE I could not handle the pressure that accompanies her talent. It is fair to say this is the general consensus of everyone who knows her as well since no one is attacking her directly.

This announcement is another move that makes me face-palm, as I am certain it is YET ANOTHER misguided PR move by Nike.


ReBuilding and Injury

Body Image

As Seen On Our FB Pages

Pro Running

Proletariat Running

"Happy Veterans' Day to all. Veterans everywhere in this country need more support than they are getting, so if there is an organization in your sphere doing good work, today is a great day to support them. Then again, so is every other day."

Coach MK and her Navy veteran husband donate to Project Headstrong and the USO. Our Marine friends are passionate about Wounded Warrior Project. Another terrific way to help veterans is to ask your HR Department about veteran hiring initiatives at your firm, and join a task force that recruits and prepares discharged veterans to enter the work force. If not, contact the USO and ask how you can start one at your firm!

Trail Running


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

222 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page