Things Coach MK Can't Say In a Newsletter, 10/27/19: The Same, but Stronger
Two big stories define the week; that only one of those stories was a headline defines...something uglier.
Let’s start with the news you heard: Shalane’s retirement from pro running. She is icon-level talent and hustle, and she’s been pushy about making space in the sport for other women. She will be an amazing coach because she is an amazing person. Nike needs to take note of the culture that fostered her greatness alongside, but separate from, the shadiness of Salazar. Everyone is going to miss Shalane, she is absolutely worthy of every single think piece.
The second piece of news is that a woman you’ve never heard of won a race with no end and no prize (unless you consider a free entry to Barkley Marathons a gift) that took place in the town in Tennessee where my mother was born. Big’s Backyard Ultra is a stupid race, and by that i mean I do NOT understand why any human would want to do it. It’s masochistic. It’s not even in the prettiest part of Tennessee with views that would reward your efforts. It’s possibly the most difficult race out there, one that doesn’t always produce a winner; it’s THAT HARD...and this year, a woman won. (Her name is Maggie Guterl).
In a time when we are having a big discussion about doping and testosterone and the advantages a male body carries in sport and competition, this second piece of news should be MUCH bigger news. We should be shouting it from the rooftops, THIS redefined human potential for me in a way a dude breaking 2 hours in the marathon won’t.
My daughter and I watched Maggie finish and cried, for different reasons. We’ve been reading Tillie The Terrible Swede and having a higher-level conversation about women’s rights. If Chey had been born in 1876, she would not have been allowed to play outside or ride bicycles, and would probably be married by 15 because that’s what girls from ‘good’ families did back then. None of this fazes her, she’s 7 and 15 is SO OLD.
The page in the book that gets her attention, that makes her SO ANGRY each time we read it, is about how a local doctor examined her legs and published a photo of her bare legs in the local paper declaring them “A Mass of Muscle, not regular from an artistic point of view, but her general health is better.” “That’s SO MEAN, Mom! Why would the paper publish it? It’s mean to talk about other people’s bodies!” I try not to let my disdain for both mass media and doctors show, but here they converge too strongly and the tears start flowing.
Tillie Anderson was winning 6-day looped bicycle races in the 1890s, that period’s equivalent of Big’s Backyard Ultra. Women have always been amazing. We can be a mass of muscle and still be artistic. We are the same, and when we are stronger we STILL go unnoticed. We’ve never really talked about women’s bodies in a positive light, we look to men to see where the limits of human endurance can be. (The health of both sexes is still heavily based on appearance before basic markers of health are taken, yay for equality.)
In that context, Maggie’s win is no surprise. Neither is the fact that major news publications, even the ones who made a doctor’s assessment of Tillie’s legs national news, haven’t been interested in her story.
All I can do is channel my inner Shalane, and make sure YOUR wins never go unnoticed. You don’t have to make national news to matter or to make a difference. All bodies are good bodies, including the unladylike masses of muscle that can run for 3 days without stopping. We need to keep making room for more women in all sports, and remember that women being incredible badasses is nothing new...it just isn’t newsworthy. THAT, I hope, will change in my lifetime.
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NOW for your Nuzzel News Outtakes!
I wish this week had been about Maggie Guterl, but we can't have nice things!
BEST OF THE WEEK
If you read NOTHING ELSE, read this.
This just tore me up.
Body Image and Fatphobia
"Chastain hopes to see more stories about athletes of all types and sizes smashing stereotypes, and in a context where people recognize their strength, stamina, flexibility, and technique."
SO DO WE!!!!! 💪💪💪
As Seen On Our FB Pages
"They'll also talk about judgement from family and friends if they're not seen to be investing every single minute of the day into their newborn, and they're very fearful of being judged as bad parents."
This hits REAL close to home.
Ultrarunning is totally like dancing in that I don’t do either one: http://jadedelarosa.com/2019/10/ballroom-dancing-vs-ultrarunning-battle-of-the-feet/
“I was like ‘OK, I can do this.’” This year, [Maggie Guterl] came prepared with an army of massage tools, a smorgasbord of potato-based snacks (mashed potatoes, potato soup, pierogies), and a single-mindedness that she would not quit until she was the only person left on the start line.”
THIS STORY IS AMAZING. I hope SO MUCH MORE will be written about her in the coming days!!!!!!
SUPER Cool with Molly: https://www.atlanta2020trials.com/news/49/58/Molly-Huddle-Keeps-It-Short-This-Fall
I’m SOOOOO glad I don’t come from a family of champions: https://runningmagazine.ca/sections/runs-races/eilish-mccolgan-breaks-her-moms-scottish-10-mile-record/
This is TOTALLY worth watching: https://www.menshealth.com/health/a29516924/eliud-kipchoge-record-marathon-pace-nick-symmonds-youtube-video/
I always like these retrospectives: https://www.iaaf.org/news/series/ashton-eaton-advice
Well, DUH. They train year-round so of course they can take time off from training...but they don’t stop running.
I make my elites race without ‘em: https://runningmagazine.ca/sections/training/why-trevor-hofbauer-races-without-a-watch/
here to go after NOP? https://www.runnersworld.com/news/a29590476/craig-engels-eventful-offseason/
Overtraining is a thing, but it’s like a frog in boiling water- you don’t know what’s happening until it’s too late: https://www.trailsisters.net/2019/10/17/overtraining/
“I am so lucky that I get to do this every day. It never feels like a job. It feels like something I get to do.”
LOVE THIS PIECE on coaching (and totally agree FWIW)
“Fatigue can be a proxy for stagnation and regression. And it can make life a real freaking drag.”
It’s easy to go hard, it’s HARD to go smart.
LOVE THIS!! Go Martinus!!
This is the oldest OTQ to date, i think?
For the dudes
I love the Lizzo Standard: https://trailrunnermag.com/training/it-is-good-to-feel-good-in-running-and-life.html
I love the HELL out of this:" We’re unsettled because something seems amiss here: We think we shouldn’t enjoy things that are repetitive and boring."
I hear what she is saying.
For our vegans!
EXCELLENT advice, looks a lot like the framework we use!
Dementia and movement: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/21/upshot/alzheimers-exercise-brain-apps.html
ALL Maggie ate at Big’s was potatoes: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191018125512.htm