Monday, November 17, 2014

Hey Teammate, You Cute!


Should you date your college teammate?

 I get asked all the time, “So, Phoebe, I have a huge crush on a guy on my track team. Would it be a bad idea to date him?”

The short answer: Yes, it is probably a bad idea. And this is coming from someone who dated a teammate throughout college. And it was/still is awesome. So you should also probably not take my advice.

Why: There’s the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. And I’m no math major, but that’s one positive and 2 negatives. Consensus: Negative.

Let’s play this out:

THE GOOD

“But Phoebe!” you say, “Kenny is so cute, and we get each other, and he’s so easy to be around. Plus he runs a 4 minute mile!”
Point Blank: Runners make good couples with other runners. You see how hard each other work. You both understand each others’ weirdness, and you both can have highly emotional conversations completely in numbers: Baby! I ran a 2.01 and the first lap was in 63 and I closed in a 28. I can totally run 1.59, and it was my fastest opener of all time. Let’s go out to eat salads to celebrate my new fitness!

I’ve compiled this list of benefits of a runner dating a runner:
         1.     You’re both exhausted! No more feeling guilty for only watching the first 15 minutes of movies anymore!
         2.     Tradsies massages. Your calves will no longer feel like marbles are embedded in them!     
         3.     You’re priorities are the same! (1. Running 2. Eating 3. Sleeping)  
         4.     You are both weird and don’t care about general public opinion!
         5.     You both will have a for-real cheerleader supporter at meets! Move over, mom, there’s a new #1 fan now!
         6.     You pass the fart-barrier much much earlier than in other relationships. No censuring your true self anymore!

THE BAD

This is where it gets a little dicey.

    The “Let’s run together” issue.
It starts off so innocent, “Hey baby, let’s run together today!” It sounds so sweet, but it’s not.
This leads to some, uh hum, predicaments—lets play out the scenarios:

For Boyfriend:
Boyfriend runs girlfriend’s pace to be chivalrous. This makes boyfriend slow. Slow makes boyfriend unhappy and less attractive to new girlfriend. Bad news.

Boyfriend one steps girlfriend to make sure the pace is good for him. Boyfriend looks like ass hole, and girlfriend boycotts dates and running together.

Boyfriend runs with girlfriend. Boyfriend’s teammates accuse boyfriend of being whipped.

Predicaments for girlfriend:

Girlfriend runs too fast, gets hurt, becomes depressed from not running. And running-deprived runner girlfriends are totally neurotic. Plus, Boyfriend no longer has cheerleader at meets

Girlfriend isn’t running with teammates. Which means teammates are most certainly analyzing their relationship on the run. 

The you-are-running-good-and-I-am-running-bad issue
If you two can get on sync and both run great, it’s awesome. If you are on opposite plans, one of 
you is jealous and/or depressed. If you guys can get over your immaturity and be happy for one another while personally being down in the dumps, you’ll probably get married.

    The how coupley should we be issue.
   You have to want to be the same coupleyness. I’m talking PDA here. And even the most slight      PDA= you will get made fun of by your team. “Will you hold my hand?” turns into a internal struggle… angry significant other vs. butt of the joke of the team.

THE UGLY

This is the potential break-up. I would say “inevitable break-up” but runners have a higher success rate than most couples it seems! Probably because we are weird/awesome!
Let’s think of a normal break-up shall we: It sucks. You cry, and then go though some post-breakup-depression ritual (for me, this was playing Xbox Connect Dance Central 2 for hours on end), delete them from all social medias, try to delete their phone number (but you have it memorized, so its no use), and try to not run into them ever again until you eventually feel human once more.
I’m sorry to break it to you, but that plan is impossible (barring quitting the team, making all new friends, and starting your collegiate social life all over—which is tempting, but stupid. Don’t do this!). You will see this person every day. You will have to be happy for them when they run well. You will have to keep it together when they move on.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Not only do you have to see them, almost all your friends are mutual (because you probably don’t have time outside of school and practice to make individual friends, so your entire party invite list is the University track roster). Now what? Do you divide friends? Do you become like divorced parents with custody of friends every other weekend? Do you just fake everything being normal? Not great options here. Plus you feel like everyone is analyzing your behavior (which isn’t true, but you can’t help but be extra sensitive in your post-breakup-depression).

If you are going to do it (which I know you, you are going to give it a go) here’s my advice:
    1.     When at practice, you are teammates only.
    2.     When at meets, you are teammates/family only.
    3.     Make sure you get enough sleep.
    4.     If you break up, it only sucks for a while. And your teammates only support you.
    5.     Exes of current teammates are off limits. 

(Also, this post is not applicable to post-collegiate athlete couples. Those couples usually work great.)

Bottom line: “Tis better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all” ...is a great quote, but if I had to guess, Alfred, Lord Tennyson never dated someone on his University track team. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Most Professional Professional


When I was a wee young collegiate athlete, I dreamt of being a professional athlete. “I’m going to be the most professional professional.” I thought. “I will be pretty much be running like a marathoner, lifting like a running back, swimming like Michael Phelps, and recovering like (Insert something that recovers thoroughly),” I thought.  Which, I obviously didn’t think this through properly, as that would have resulted in a deformed human with thunder thighs, overdeveloped traps, skinny calves, and the energy of a koala bear. Regardless, without school in the way, I knew I have time to do everything right, and therefore, was going to do everything right. And therefore, was going to break the American Record.

But that’s not how it has turned out so far. This got me to thinking: is college running better for a running career than professional running?

In a lot of ways, for a lot of people, Yes, it is.

Why some people do better in the collegiate system:

      1.     Some bodies physically are suited for the sport of college running opposed to professional running. I know what you are thinking, “But, Phoebe, that’s just stupid because they are the same sport.” Wrong, my friend! In collegiate running you have to be at 90% for 9 months. A lot of people cannot physically handle this. In professional running you have to be at 100% for 3 months. Not only that, you have to peak very well because the competition is much deeper in the professional field. These are very different in terms of training. Different athletes do better in each system. I call it the Tim Tebow Theory. The same sport at a different level is a different sport. 

      2.     You have a team! Yes, I know, I have a great team now, but when I line up, no part of my result affects my team. This is very relieving to some people. But other people (me included) thrive on that pressure. It’s like your chance to be the one who catches the winning touchdown pass (or what I imagine this is like, as I have only touched a football once, and it was embarrassing. So it’s probably more like being the one to open that jelly jar that no one could open.) Being the hero is fun. Cheering on your teammates while they become the hero is even more fun.

Plus being in the trenches all working toward something—like gagging the Gator Chomp, or eating Pig Sooie for breakfast—just makes y’all feel like bad asses.
  
      3.     You don’t have distractions. Well, to be more exact, you don’t have a social life. If running is M. Night Shyamalan movie, a social life is the spoiler. Your social life? It mostly will consist of passing out with your backpack on. Sleep > Party.  And that’s why practice becomes your social life, and therefore, the most enjoyable part of your day. And every once and a while you’ll get “wild.” Remember those high school days where a night out meant Ice cream and charades and going to bed at 9:30? That’s what “wild” is as a collegiate athlete. Sometimes you get so wild that laser tag is involved. And it’s awesome.

      4.      Working hard becomes the norm: You wake up, workout, learn, workout, eat, and sleep. That’s it. You just handle it all without thinking because you have no other choice. Plus, if you don’t handle it, your coach will call your parents, threaten your scholarship, and make the team do bear crawls while you watch from your wall sitting chair position. And then no one on your team will like you. What I’m saying is: don’t skip practice.

      5.      You blindly follow the successful elders. When I entered into college I was the slowest by 30 seconds in the mile. This meant that I could have a 20 second PR, and I’d still be the slowest on the team by a significant margin. So where a 5:00 min mile would technically be “fast,” it wasn’t fast anymore. 4:45 was the new fast. This seems crazy to have a 5:16 miler walking around getting all bent out of shape not running 4:45 at the local dual meet, but that blind ignorance is the best performance enhancer. One time I watched Sarah Bowman Brown run 4:40 at the end of mile repeats. I thought, “Well, she ran a bunch of miles at sub 5 min pace. I can probably at least run one.”  (I even used the fact that both of us have quite large calves as biomechanical proof as to why I could run a 30 second PR). I thought this because I was probably an idiot freshman. You have to believe it before you do it. And sometimes, to believe it, you have to have no clue that human limits are even a thing.

The problem with being a professional, is you are elder. You have no one that totally revamps your idea of “fast.” Your ignorance is gone, and your limits are in plain sight. The question is: how do you become stupider?
By going back to the college ways, probably.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Runner Types!


It seems to me there are 2 types of runners (Well. This isn’t really true, but let’s face it, playing which-group-of-people-is-my-group-of-people is fun.): 
1. Those who find stress stressful 
and 
2. Those who find boredom stressful


1. THOSE WHO FIND STRESS STRESSFUL.  (We can call these people “TWFSS” for short). These are the Cat-runner personalities

     Traits of TWFSS group:
They value relaxing.

These are the people that work hard so they don’t have to work hard. An ideal vacation would be lying on a beach sipping Pina coladas and not getting caught in the rain. 
Imagine them as cheetahs. Cheetahs laze around until it’s time to work. And then they run faster than any creature in the entire world, catch some grub, eat it, and veg out trying to stay stress free until the next mealtime.

They are loads of fun unless they are overwhelmed.

Perks of being TWFSS
These people are usually laid back. They get through life using what I have just-now-this-second coined the “punctuated productivity method.” They are stressed, work hard to fix it, usually get overwhelmed while trying to fix it, and then return to a long period of homeostasis (Which consists of Netflix and nap-nap time, mostly.)

Common Problems of TWFSS:
They get overwhelmed at the small tasks. Especially if said tasks that cut into Netflix and nap-nap time. Those tasks are interfering with the job of being a professional runner! They do not compartmentalize their stress easily and let it affect their running.

Advice for the TWFSS:
Try not to let those unexpected problems throw off your mojo.
Compartmentalize some of that stress—don’t let it affect your workout!
Don’t overcommit to activities.

2. THOSE WHO FIND BOREDOM STRESSFUL. (TWFBS). These are the Dog runner personalities. 

Traits of TWFBS:
These people are the ones who go backpacking as a “vacation.”

I imagine these runners as Australian Shepherds (dog).  I was watching my friends Shepherd. It did this weird thing where it just did laps around the coffee table. I thought it was having some type of meltdown. Or a short circuiting of the brain and was stuck running in circles in my living room for the rest of its life. I called friend to apologize for breaking her dog. Apparently this is “normal” for the dog when it gets bored, and I was to give the dog tasks. That way the dog wouldn’t get stressed out from the boredom. 

Perks of TWFBS:
These are your go-getters.

They are intense, insanely hard to get a hold of, and may be viewed as “space cadets” since they are bouncing around from idea to idea.

If these people were a workout, they’d be 20x400 at mile race pace with 1 min recovery. (Meaning: They go hard, they don’t stop, and they don’t seem to notice how tiring the workout is).

Common Problems of the TWFBS:
If they do not find ways to be productive, they self-destruct. They will create problems just to fix them.

Advice for the TWFBS:
SCHOOL! And/or a career outside of your life as a professional runner!

It may seem like you are not taking your running career seriously if you have “distractions” like school…but sometimes distractions create balance.


And that’s why going to Pharmacy School is the best decision I could have made for my running career. I am that Australian shepherd (figuratively, not literally. I don't do laps around my coffee table).

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Will You Be My Training Group?


HOW TO CHOOSE A TRAINING GROUP/COLLEGE TEAM

I get this a lot question a lot. And considering I just make serious life decisions all willy nilly and this has seemed to work out, I think this makes me an expert in helping you make life changing decisions!

Answer these simple questions. And don’t answer them with how you want to be, answer them with how you actually are.  For example, I want to enjoy really deep movies, but I don’t. I enjoy those crappy, superficial, mind numbing movies. Like 28 weeks later. And this is embarrassing for me when people are all like: Hey Phoebe. What did you think about the character development in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly? And I have to say: Well. I fell asleep for the middle hour and a half. And then turned on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
But I know this, and have accepted it, and now excuse myself from any super deep movies. Especially ones with subtitles.

    1.     Do you want a training partners?
Really think about this! There are serious perks to training solo. You get a guaranteed individualized training plan. You can tailor workouts to how you feel. You get one-on-one time with a coach. You don’t have to worry about your ego being destroyed on days you don’t feel well.  If this is you, that’s great! You want to choose a team that lacks people in your event specialty.

Personally I find that being on a team is awesome. Mostly because I am an emotional basketcase solo. I can make a 6 minute mile feel hard without people to witness said mile. I need bodies around me to keep me relaxed. Not only that, but who the heck would I talk to during the day if I didn’t have teammates? I’d probably be at home, alone, discussing religion and politics with my dog.  If this is you, that’s great! You want to choose a team where there are other people with your stats or stats slightly better than yours.


    2.     Do you jive with the team?
There are two times in your life where you get to choose your family. The first: Marriage. The second: Your team. Could you spend weeks with them talking about your deepest secrets in between games of Charades? These people become your lifelong friends. Most college kids have college friends. And then the college friends turn into college memories. In running, these college friends turn into your adult friends. The type of adult friends that you tell your deep dark secrets to in between games of charades.

    3.     Do you jive with the coach?
Your coach not only is going to (hopefully) make you ridiculously fast, but they are going to be with you as you grow up. Running exposes all your personality weaknesses. It forces you to be patient--mostly by being incredibly frustrating at times. It forces you to let go of that intense ego of yours. You coach is your personal cheerleader and advisor during this process.
Also, coaches see it all. So you have to be comfortable enough to have really embarrassing and/or hard conversations with them. Like, “Hey coach. I am having explosive diarrhea, and need to miss today’s practice.” Or “Hey coach. I got mad at Sally, and punched her in the face in my emotional rage.” They see you at your best and worst. So make sure it’s someone you are okay with doing that.

    4.     Do you believe in the training system?
Hey! If you believe doing 1000 pushups is the key to success and your coach thinks that doing one pushup would lead to your demise as a runner, you should probably reconsider that plan. 

    5.     The environment.
Most of the environment is dictated by your coach and training partners. But the other part of the environment, i.e. the trails, the track, the facilities, the training room, the city, and the weather, should be taken into consideration. Do you hate cold winters and treadmills? Minnesota might not be your jam. Do you have one of those bodies that in hot humid climates shrivel in dehydration while you run geriatric pace? Florida will probably be your mortal enemy.

Quick list of questions to ask on a recruiting visit!

1.     Where do you run?
2.     What is a typical day like?
3.     Are a lot of people on your team injured? If "yes" ßRED FLAG
4.     Do you hang out a lot outside of practice?
5.     Do you train together as a team?
6.     Do you get along with your coach? If the majority says “no”, ßRED FLAG
7.     What are the coach’s training philosophies?
8.     Why do you think I would be a good addition to this team?
9.     How bad is the winter/summer?
10. What are your interests outside of running?