(2/2) I love running. I understand running. And I see you most clearly through running - by the way your head tilts when you’ve recommitted mid-interval, by the snag in your stride when you’ve got nothing left, and by your choking frustration when it’s just not working and you don’t understand why. By this common thread the barriers between us are eliminated. By letting me coach you, you've helped me understand how to love and understand and see you with the same intensity that I’ve loved putting one foot in front of the other. . I left my elite career thinking I had led a pretty special life. Who, after all, is more necessarily self-obsessed than the professional athlete? But by the privilege of being allowed into your lives, over time I’ve grown tired of listening to myself talk and increasingly interested in what you have to say. You have so much to say. . After thousands of conversations on low brick walls, sidewalks, front stoops and the floors of every Nike store in the city, I know what I want. After three emotional, exhausting, gratifying, weathering years, I know it largely because of my time spent with you. If I have crouched next to you to talk about anything – your shins or your PR or your frustrations or the quiet good you’re doing in your crew – then I am so thankful to you. . As though I were 15 years old again, waking up before the family to get in my morning miles, I know what I am made for. This time i know it not by the circumference of my ankles, but rather by a tug somewhere behind my ribs when I’m allowed to look at you in a hard moment. I want to tell the stories that get me smiling on the subway home from practice, and the kind that won’t let me sleep because they’re too unfair, and the kind that let me see you so completely that I can barely tell where you stop and I begin. . In August, I’ll head to the University of Iowa to study Creative Writing. Three years after that, I’ll be back here to tell these stories in the way they deserve to be told. . Through July I’ll be in and out, hosting runs here and there. I’ll reach out when I do. Thanks again, Athletes. I cried while typing this. I owe you guys a lot.
I have been so lucky. . This body is clearly suited for one thing - from the size of my heart to the diameter of my ankles, running is what I am good for. But I say that I'm lucky not because I was born with this potential to run fast, but rather because from ages 14-30 I knew exactly what I wanted. At an age when my peers were wondering who they were, by a quirk of genetics I got to skip the self loathing teenage years and the quarter life crisis. For those 18 years I woke up every morning with the clear purpose of learning and training and struggling towards becoming the fastest human on the planet. I was brutally hard on myself and I never came close to my goals, but I am so proud to think back on that brave skinny girl and know that she is me. . I retired three years ago at age 30 with nothing on my resume but “runs really fast.” While I’d been living out my irrational dreams on a mountaintop, my peers had been making mistakes and living life. They figured out careers, made money, had babies. I lived out of a suitcase, made barely enough to sustain me, and spent all day refining my body and mind by ever narrowing margins. I felt very lucky, but I knew I was making a tradeoff. I assumed I'd have to go back and collect on the teens' and twenties' angst I'd skipped. . Running is not a practical career move. There is no ladder, no clear way to make all those miles apply to the next stage of life. I would retire with no savings or marketable skills, and the knowledge gained over 18 years would to die with my career. . But that’s not what happened. Instead, I was given the opportunity by NRC to coach you. Think about how gratifying that was: After all those years, I stepped down from the mountain top expecting to find myself without purpose. But on these supposedly mean streets, I learned to be useful. I coached you and you listened. You worked hard. You got faster. We believed in each other. We talked about exercise physiology, sports psychology, race tactics, artistry of the body, history of the sport and bodily respect. I learned that my lifetime of devotion was good for something – that I was good for something.(1/2)
I sometimes wonder about those serious little gymnasts on TV who perform unfalteringly for millions and then retire at age 18. What happens next? . I bet that for as long as they live, they find comfort in the uneven bars. I bet, even if their careers were full of pain, that they explain the world back to themselves using the lessons they learned with chalk on their hands. . My story is much less extreme than the little Russian gymnasts’. But from age 14 until I retired from elite competition at age 30, running dictated my life: I ran twice a day, 100 miles a week. I followed coaches across the country and lived out of suitcases for months a year. I always knew my national ranking, and I knew I’d be fired if it fell too low. . I’ve been booed. I’ve received hate mail. I’ve had the worst moments of my life replayed in slo-mo on national TV. I’ve been screamed at by coaches, told I was broken. I heard my bone crack through mid-race. I've pulled out my own toenails. . I’ve also been cheered on by 20,000 screaming fans. I’ve been paid to do nothing but run. I’ve received letters from fans I’ve reread a hundred times and can still send my heart into my throat. . Now, two years removed from my career, there are things I understand more and things I understand less about what running was to me then, and what it is to me now. This is what I’m sure of: The goofy exhaustion at the back of the bus is what best friends feel like. I need mentors who are direct and honest, even when it hurts us both. I’ve got no patience for time wasting, patronizing or excuses. I believe if I haven’t worked, hurt, cried and bled for something I don’t really deserve it. I believe in the power of one human’s will to prove every social, physical and fiscal predictor wrong. I believe that I am not a winner, but rather a fighter. I believe that is something to be embraced. . People ask if I carry scars from those years. The answer is yes. I can see the scars of a hundred thousand miles on these legs. I can feel them in the craggy calcium deposits on my now-healed bones. But scarred tissue is tough. I am scarred, and so I am fortified.
Why run? Why dance? Why lift? Why play? Why march? Perhaps reveling in what these bodies can do reminds us of what we are capable. • I'm working on a project and I'd love your help. Did you do something physical on Jan 20th? Tell me about it. (No heroics necessary. I want to hear about your personal moments.) • 📸: @zhetrick
On the train to meet #run4allwomen. I'm tracking their progress, reading about their significance, and getting excited to lend my own footsteps (and annoy them with endless interviews and pictures) • On this 4 day run from NYC->DC, these 4 strong women are just now passing through Princeton, NJ. Along the way they've been greeted by cheering crowds with signs and hugs and gift of coffee and food. I feel sure that as they near the capital the crowds will only grow. Map in the bio to get in on the battle-love. • I'll meet them tomorrow morning and run as long as my legs will carry me. Then, after I crumple to the asphalt, I'll wedge myself into their sweaty, disheveled van and we'll talk about what makes a movement. • For updates: @powderedfeet @run_is_to @quitatheroadrunner @ultrarunningchick81
On Wednesday, January 18th, these four women will begin a 255 mile run from NYC to DC to benefit Planned Parenthood. Alison Désir, Kim Rodriguez, Marquita Francique, and Talisa Hayes will start in their home of Harlem and run across the George Washington bridge followed by a pack of cheering supporters. Then they'll leave the crowd and continue through the night in relay fashion, flanked by their support van. They'll take turns running down highways and through neighborhoods. They'll sidestep lost hubcaps and fast food wrappers as they brace themselves against the the gusts of dirty air from passing 18 wheelers. They'll watch the sun rise over the Delaware river. • Through New Jersey and Delaware, Philadelphia and Baltimore, they'll run all night, and into the next day, and the next night and day, and the next night and day, to finally arrive on the morning of the 21st, just in time to fall flat on their backs in the middle of the Women's March on Washington. • They began planning this run as four, intending to rotate positions and sleep in the van between relay legs. But when they set up their gofundme.com page to benefit Planned Parenthood they received such an overwhelming outpouring of support that they knew that they had to open it up to the masses. • The nature of distance running is to be inclusive. It takes little money, little gear. You, the runner, are exposed. You are not protected and cannot be aided. You stand a vulnerable figure on the open road, and you move forward. • When people asked Alison if they too could join 4 Women Run 4 All Women, she said of course. Her small army put together a fully interactive map of the course, along with a spreadsheet breaking up the run into 4-mile legs. These visionaries, these gold-hearted world-changers are now inviting anyone to come and run side-by-side with them. • So, I am. I'm taking a train down to Delaware and hopping in day 3. You should too. Link in the bio. (Map and itinerary links in update 4) Come run with us. -and please share!- • I'll also be recording the event, talking to the women in the van, and putting the event in historical perspective. #plannedparenthood #run4allwomen
New York, you are moody and gnarled and difficult and I missed you so much. I have a lot to say. I'm in over my head with the good and bad and changing of the new year and all the bigger-than-me things I'm honored to be a part of. More on all that soon. For now I'll just say this: prepare yourself, asphalt, I'm going to beat the hell out of you. #werunthesestreets
I've been in the mountains since Dec 9th - the longest departure I've taken from my normal rhythm in years - and though I've made acquaintance with a couple old mountain men, most days I don't see anybody. That's how I planned it. • One thing I did not plan was to meet these two furry guys, Blue and Brownie, but it would have been a different month if I hadn't. Every morning and many evenings I jog past their cabin, where they sleep in a shared dog bed next to a wood burning stove. They know I'm coming so they careen down their hill to meet me on the washed-out dirt road. • They know the trails a lot better than I do, they clearly consider this side of the mountain their territory, so I follow them. Sometimes they tuck in behind me and let me lead for a stretch before passing on either side, brushing my calves as they go, and disappearing around the bend, always eventually circling back to make sure I'm still there. • I don't usually bend toward the woo-woo. I'm not especially spiritual or mystical. But damn it if these two wet-nosed spirit guides weren't waiting for me on the mountain. • My work, my relationships, my writing, and my running are all better when I let myself break from my anal-retentive grunt work tendencies, and cut the leash. • This year, Blue and Brownie, I swear to run wild. Thanks for sharing your mountain.
I will remember 2016 for many things: Political disillusionment, social confrontation and emotional exhaustion. But one of the stories of my own personal 2016 is that this was the year I first understood how best to give of myself. • I spent 17 years relying on the kindness of other people. Being a national, but not global-level professional runner is not a lucrative position. I spent those years accepting the gifts of knowledge, time and support from a huge number people, many of whom I couldn’t possibly have paid. • World-class coaches, sports psychologists, physiologists, massage therapists, chiropractors, active-release therapists, acupuncturists, and hematologists helped me for nothing but a hug and the promise that I would use their resources to the best of my ability. • I didn’t exactly understand it then. I thought they wanted to be involved in the the pursuit of excellence, and certainly that’s part of it. It’s fun to watch someone succeed when you’ve had a hand in their craft. But, I don’t think that’s the most important part. • I think that the people who helped me were the people who saw a bit of themselves in me; who saw a person chasing something that didn’t quite make sense – that wouldn’t bring them money or power or prestige – but whose heart beat harder at the very thought of it. • Dr. Whitaker is a Chiropractor is Portland, OR, and he is an artisan of the human body. He sees, understands, and whispers to anatomy like no one I’ve ever met. In 2 minutes of watching his devout attention to the ripples of my musculature, it was obvious that this was a man in love with what he does. And he, with my pain in his hands, saw the same in me and gave me more than I could repay. • I have learned in 2016 that the way I can be most useful to this world is by keeping my eyes open for people, all kinds of people, in whom I can see some bit of my own spirit reflected back and then saying to them, “how can I help?”
I'm writing a book. It's about running and other things. I hope, if you read it, that you will see yourself in its pages. I think, if you have ever run, that you will.
I'm not from here. I'm from pavement and glass banks and strip malls and dusted-out city parks of the new south. But when I'm in need of a motherland - that might hold me and hug me and let me be a child - this is where I'm drawn. Hello, Appalachia. I think I'll stay a while.
"LIFT UP YOUR KNEEEEEEES" I came home from practice sick. I regret nothing. • See ya'll Saturday for the NRC 2016 Finale. Gonna be dirty/amazing. Link in the bio. #nrc 📸: @notafraid2fail
Every Run has a purpose. The Long Run is for Strength when the going gets tough. The Speed Run is for Fire with the finish in sight. The Home Run is for Ease so these strides learn to flow. And what else? • Rest. The forgotten element in your training cycle is one of the most important parts. It’s the time between runs, when your body heals and restocks and prepares for what’s to come – because there a lot to come. • Starting December 4th, NRC will take our 2016 Recovery, which means it’s time to stop, rest, smile, and ready yourself for a very full 2017. • But first…let’s celebrate. 🎉🎉🎉 The NRC 2016 season finale will be at Van Cortland Park at 10:04am on December 3rd – We’ll bring the bandanas, war paint, cowbells and streamers. You bring your friends, crews, family and confused bystanders and come give ALL you got. • This is not one you want to miss #NRC Nike.com/nyc + click on the whistle!
🏆 Dear Fall Marathoners, Now what? • I ask this question of all of my athletes, and the responses tend to fall neatly into two categories: 1) TRAINING FOR MY NEXT RACE 🏋🏽⚡️🐣 2) I…don’t know? Is that bad? • My take is that those two sides can learn a lot from each other. More on that in a moment. But first, let’s start from the top: ☝️1. You run a marathon 🍻2. You take 3-20 days totally off to heal and be impressed with yourself 👙3. You take 2-6 weeks to get back into it, moving but not training: 🌑For the anal retentive: Start with 1/3-1/2 of your highest weekly workload (running and cross-training combined), and progress by adding 10-20% a week. Do no workouts and only informal speed 🌕For the hippys: just move. Let your body be your guide and do what sounds fun and feels good 🌓For everybody: your body and your cravings are the boss during this time. Do not be tied to a plan, and do not underestimate what you already know about yourself. Sit quietly and listen intuitively to what you need. Look at your calendar and think logically about what you need Swimming? A hike? Yoga? More rest? Dancing? 🐎4. And then, we move forward: • Races are alluring for all kinds of reasons, but among them is the way they both build us up and wear us down. They bring us to breaking point. They reveal secrets about ourselves we may not have known otherwise However good or bad or ok your marathon experience was, you came out of it different than you went in. What do you know now that you didn’t before? Do not let that revelation fade ⚡️What are you most proud of? That’s yours. Claim it and own it forever ⚡️What were you worst at? That’s your fastest path to improvement • 🌚For those with a race on the horizon: do not feel so tied to your plan that you forget to be you. You are infinitely more unique and amazing than a spreadsheet 🌞For those of you without a race planned: don't feel pushed, but do think about what's next. Whether it's getting faster or stronger or climbing Mt Everest or taking up meditation or eating better or learning to break dance 🌟For everyone: let the next step come naturally from this one. That's how we move forward. That's what runners do #nrc #running
Back at my Mama's house. Back on the neighborhood loops that raised me. Back soon, y'all. Filling up on lasagna and other things.