A Roundup of News Stories and Articles: Who Gets It, Who Doesn’t
Like many of you, I spend a good amount of time consuming this and that around the interwebs. However, I can’t help but view things through a different lens now that I’ve been through Overtraining Syndrome and Hypothalamic Amenorrhea. Luckily, there are quite a few people that seem to have gotten the message that more is not better when it comes to training. They offer an alternative view from the mainstream advertising and fitness-influencer stupidity telling you to suck it up and keep going or that your self-worth has something to do with your body fat percentage. I am doing this news roundup to share some of what, in my very biased view, gets it right.
BUT. There is also a lot of crap out there that makes me sad for the people who read it and don’t see that it’s total BS. There are articles and stories that make me angry because they keep pushing the stereotypes that are not helpful. There are people who spread a message of “health” that might work for them (Ahem...maybe), but is certainly not going to be good for everyone. I hate to straight-up drag people, but you’ll find a little bit of side-eye here too. You’ll see them mentioned as “Blind Items”. I’m sure you’ve seen something like this on the gossip blogs: I might suggest who or what I am talking about, but I am not going to link to their site or the actual article. The fact is that I may not know the person or the story behind the piece...every story has two sides and I am not going to judge. But, I am going to point out what may be a little bit “off”...
If you like what you see, tell, me. If I am wrong, tell me. If you think I am too much of a Pollyanna to be overly controversial...you’re right! Either way, use the comments below or shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here we go!
They Get It Right:
In which, Joe Uhan remarks “running–especially ultramarathon running and racing–can be overused or used inappropriately. Such ‘abuse’ can have starkly negative and consequential effects.” and he asks us to consider two fundamental questions (that you have seen at ACOTJ before) 1. What are you running from? and 2. What are you running toward?
Yaas, Joe, yaas.
From Trail Runner Magazine:
“The neurobiological context of training matters, often in non-linear and difficult-to-predict ways. Stress can cause long-term changes in adaptation processes from the cellular to the systemic levels. That way of thinking goes against how we traditionally envision cause-and-effect.”
Written by David Roche, this article is a must-read for anyone trying to understand the impact of stress on training. Sadly, people will read this and forget about it immediately simply because the sound and solid advice is intolerable to most: (TL:DR) your body is unpredictable and you are not invincible...figure it out.
From The Irish Times:
The snark is real. I love this so much. Just leaving this quote here:
“If cocaine is God’s way of saying you’ve too much money then extreme sports are His way of saying you’ve way too much time on your hands.”- Brian O’Connor
Don’t be fooled by the title of this well-researched article...they are not just talking about physical issues here, but mental as well. What I love is that it’s one of the few articles out there that addresses life stress as a contributor to injury and encourages a combination of mental and physical practices to keep you healthy. I am totally fed up with BS coming from running mags trying to cure your physical ailments with more physical intervention. Dude. Take a frigging rest day.
“Often overlooked, rest is a critical component to any training program. There are two forms of rest, active and complete cessation of physical activity. Gentle forms of exercise such as easy jogging or cross-training can be a great way for runners to unwind whilst still completing mileage. However, without adequate sleep, nutrition and time away from the running shoes, runners will put themselves at risk of chronically overreaching.” -Dan Bleakman
He Gets It, but Per Usual, Runner’s World Doesn’t:
Is there a worse running magazine than RW? I don’t think so. This article is from a couple of years ago, but it’s worth looking at for good and bad reasons.
Good: Ryan Hall finally stopped worrying about being the lightest version of himself and fitting the stereotype of what a runner looks like. He’s eating well and keeping fit which is great, but most of all, he is happy with himself. I think.
Bad: I mean, look at the title!! “That’s Not Fat”…UGHHHHH… Just read through this article to see how many times RW qualifies Hall’s new body with language that provides nothing but qualifiers of his value, justifications, and judgements, “He spends two hours working out”, “He hasn’t lost his speed though”, “Now the singular focus is on becoming as big and muscular as he possibly can”. Yeah, great reporting here, Runner’s World. More bad: I wonder if they would approach a female runner’s weight gain with the same gusto and provide an example of her new workout along with a quote about her joy in purchasing larger sizes of clothing. Yeah, don’t think so.
They Don’t Get It:
Blind Item #1: From kind of everywhere this week...
It’s a pretty common story these days; formerly quite unhealthy person (insert here: morbidly obese, alcoholic, eating disordered, etc) finds Ultrarunning and is saved. Next step? Create some insane running challenge to show off their newfound health, raise money for a cause, come clean about something, sell a book, become an influencer. Then they get on the podcast circuit, launch a Patreon or a Gofundme and before you know it, the endurance sports community is holding them up as the new hero.
But, why aren’t we talking about whether or not the person is actually mentally healthy or if they’ve just hid their issues in enough endorphins and hype to get Darth Vader smiling? Have they conquered their binge eating or just disguised it as aid station fuel and recovery meals? Are they a recovering addict or becoming a new one with a dependance on exercise and training?
So, there’s a guy who is planning a year of an absurd about of 100-milers and I wish him all the best. But, I wonder if he’s replacing one set of demons for another. I wonder if he is aware of the real possibility of complete physiological breakdown. I wonder if he knows that he was a great, valuable human before he started running and will be a great, valuable human whether or not he runs another step. I wonder what he’s going to do when the year is over and how he plans on handing the mental and physical fall-out. Sigh. Fingers crossed for this guy.
Blind Item #2: From a newsletter sent out by a GPS watch company
When we find that someone is performing well, it is natural to wonder what their secret is and it doesn’t take long for the conversation to veer toward what they eat. In a recent newsletter that began with the statement “Being an athlete is all about discipline and consistency”, a female runner was featured for her “passion for a plant based diet”. After listing off her recent impressive accomplishments, the reader is treated to a few recipes...heavy on the smoothies and Buddha bowls.
I am not going to comment on her physical appearance in the accompanying full-length photo. I feel that commenting on anyone’s body, for any reason, is inappropriate and NOT HELPFUL. Instead, I wonder why the photo of her standing at a counter chopping veggies wasn’t good enough to convey her passion and ability? I guess we need to see that she meets (or exceeds) a particular physical type to be convinced that she is a worthy athlete? A worthy person? A disciplined and consistent chick...which I guess they’ve decided is the way to be a good runner?
I am also going to wonder when people are going to stop posting judgy articles about what someone should or should not put in their bodies. Haven’t we figured out that what works for one person probably will not work for another? Maybe we need to say it again for those who forgot: there is no “runner’s body” and there is no “right way” to eat. Do you and all will be good.