Tuesday, February 7, 2017

I want to coach you. YEAH! YOU!

Everyone needs a coach. Everyone.

If you don’t have one, I have a solution! Me! I’ll be your coach!
I’ll take you through workouts. Fun workouts. Hard workouts. Sprint workouts. Mental Workouts. Easy Workouts.
You’ll be fit in a way you’ve probably never been before. I call it “bulletproof fitness.” You have to be an all-round athlete to tackle the 800m, so the training plan is designed to create an all-round athlete.
You’ll become mentally more resilient. I’ve learned more from track and field than I have in all my years of schooling. Running trains the brain. It teaches you to be tough, to focus, to have foresight. There will be a little metal lesson or focus every week.
You’ll learn to become more technical. You’ve probably done high knees your whole life. Do you know why? Do you know how to do technically sound high knee? I’ll walk you through the drills.


The Plan:
We will rotate through speed days, anaerobic days, aerobic days, and strength days. A typical week will consist of 3 workouts (published Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday). You should do these with at least one day of rest in between. (ie: working out is not like a bank, you can’t deposit all your workouts in at the beginning of the week and coast for the rest of the week. The rest is important.) The workouts will rotate. You’ll find that you will have a favorite type of workout and a least favorite type of workout. The least favorite is probably the one you are weakest at. I know mine is because I don’t like being bad at things. Unfortunately, you have to be bad at things before you are good at things. Do the workouts you don’t like, it will turn your weakness into a strength and build character. Do not use the “well I just suck at tempos” type of excuse. If you suck at something, that means you have more room to improve.

The Goal:
I want you to write down a “soft” goal and a “hard” goal. The soft goal is what you want out of the program. It doesn’t have a clear-cut criteria.  Do you want to get stronger? Get tougher? Work on commitment? Learn to be more mindful? Think of it as a self-improvement goal.
Your hard goal is what you what you want to accomplish. For example:
I want to run 1.57
I want to make an Olympic team
I want to lose 10 pounds
They are real, tangible number goals. It’s a box you can check off when you accomplish it. AND THEN! You get to be satisfied for approximately 2 seconds before you write down a new hard goal to chase. It’s a hard goal, so make it hard. Don’t be afraid to let yourself dream big.

Q:  I can’t fit all my workouts in this week. Should I make them up next week?
A: No, absolutely not. If you can’t make it work, skip it, don’t worry, and keep on track.

Q: Can I cross train instead of run on my off days?
A: You bet.

Q: What if I feel a little pain? Should I run? 
A: Follow this flow chart

Q: How fast should my warm up be?
A: It doesn’t matter. Slow enough that you don’t blow out your hamstring

Q: I can’t complete the fitness test, is that OK?
A: You bet. You’ll get there

Q: I don’t know how to do drills. How do I learn to do all the drills?  
A: You can’t learn everything on day one. I will focus on one drill a week. Do what you are comfortable with and you will learn as you advance through the program.

Q: What if I don’t have access to a track?
A: No problem! Convert the distance into time estimates and run the assigned effort for that amount of time. For example: 8x400m at mile pace would be converted to 8x75 seconds at mile pace effort if your goal pace is a 5 minute mile.

Monday, October 24, 2016

What The Duck

Running Observations.

I was about to cross the road in the middle of my run, and I'm the cautious type--I don't just dart out in the middle of the road like you North Easters. Plus, I don't mind those few seconds of catch-your-breath time. Anyways, I was about to cross the road, legally, at a crosswalk, and no cars stopped. Every time I attempted to take a step forward, it seemed like the car would be completely oblivious to me, or worse, they'd step on the gas.

I started to get annoyed. Maybe people just drive like maniacs during rush hour. Maybe my leopard print shirt is camouflaging. Maybe I am invisible today. Just as I was troubleshooting the situation, a group of baby ducks absentmindedly walked out in the street. I tried to warn them, "Hey! Be careful! You'll get squished out there! People are blind today!"

They took their time crossing, leaving the perfectly unideal amount of space between each duck--the maximal amount of space to not let cars pass through. It took them 5 minutes to cross the street. Meanwhile, a traffic jam was forming, and the masses of angry drivers turned into masses of oogling-the-cuteness drivers.

It's at this point that I realized I am less assertive than a duck. If you want people to stop for you, you have to make them stop for you. That's how it works when you cross the street. It's slightly risky, but odds are, most cars will stop.

That's also how it works in professional running. If you want sponsors to stop for you, or media to listen to you, or for race directors to notice you, you have to put yourself out there. Don't give them a choice to not notice. Also,  I assume it helps if you are as cute as a group of baby ducks.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


The Olympic Trials are such an exciting time! It’s electric! And everyone is straddling that line of excited/nervous (if they haven’t gone right past that line and straight into “Nervous Only!” that is).

You should probably be a fan of everyone at the Olympic Trials because we all busted our ass and have thought about this particular weekend for the past 4 or so years. But, if you need help figuring out whom to root a little extra for, here is my PHOEBE-IS-A-FAN-OF-THESE-400m AND UP-RUNNERS-SO-YOU-SHOULD-BE-TOO LIST.

Fran off the track loves dancing, joking, laughing, and entertaining. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen her not smiling.  It’s contagious.
On the track she is not afraid to hurt. She always goes to the well—you can tell by her post race interviews. Most runners try hard to keep it together and mask the lactic acid under a fake smile while giving some “I felt really great today” generic statement—not Fran. Fran is breathing heavy while speaking her mind in an honest, refreshing way. She’s the woman you want anchoring your 4x4 because you know she will give it her all plus however much else is needed to get the win.


There is only one thing Kori is better at than the 400mH. Hugging. This lady is a hugger. Every time I see her, we just hug for a few minutes and then talk—usually about her baby dog, or her BFF Ajee Wilson—and then we hug some more. I want her to win just so I can give her a celebratory hug afterward.


Molly is a soccer player turned top-in-the-world runner. She runs because she loves it. Because something would be missing in her life if she didn’t have some competitive outlet. In the same way that kids find joy in playing tag, Molly finds joy in competing. Plus she has gotten 4th way to many damn times, so she has paid her dues.

Ajee is the real deal. She’s young, fierce, poised, and has a deadly kick. She skipped the collegiate ranks and went straight from high school to pro. And she might be the best pro. When I grow up, I want to be a runner like Ajee.
Plus! When she’s off the track, she doesn’t think about track. One time, I was roommates with Ajee and we couldn’t stop laughing. She said, “I train with 13 year old boys, so that explains my sense of humor. What’s your excuse?” And that’s how I knew we’d be friends.

Mary was THE high school phenom. She turned professional, and has struggled during the process. I don’t think people realize how much this young woman has been through. She’s endured a lot of changes and struggles and expectations that most people will never begin to comprehend. She hasn’t quite figured out that she is lucky to have these experiences—only truly great people get the privilege of these types of struggles.
Despite all that, she still is running respectable times and has a smile on her face while doing it. She is a once in a lifetime talent, and it is just a matter of time before she gets back on top—could the Olympic Trials be the start of some upward momentum?! I hope so!

Brooks Beasts
I am lucky to train with Katie. Imagine the energy of a Skittles commercial packed into a cute and ferociously fit body. She is just a bottle of emotions—and you can see these emotions when she races. She wants it. She would run through a brick wall to win. Plus she’s good hearted and genuinely wants everyone to do well.

Molly is quiet and unassuming. And then she steps on the track and becomes a lethal killing machine. She can win from the front or from a kick and is the most consistent runner on the track currently.

Emily is working on her Snap Chat Lip Sync Career while winning medals on the track in her spare time. Maybe they are related? Maybe she gets warmed up to run by belting out those favorite 90s hits?
Emily has been through it, she’s run great, she’s run bad, she’s been injured, she’s been the fittest she’s ever been. And she brings it at the Championship races. She’s got a great perspective on everything and might be the nicest human alive.

3k Steeple
New Balance

Emma is like a Navy SEAL trapped in a bombshell bod. When she steps on the track it is all business. She knows her splits, hits her splits, and then runs people down the last 400m. She always executes. You can see it in her eyes.
Plus! She’s going to be in the ESPN body issue!
I wish Kara would write a book because she has had a heck of a running/life story. She started with Alberto Salazar and won a world medal while working with him. She left him—which is much harder than people give her credit for; became a mother-- which is much harder than people give her credit for; struggled to piece together a good marathon-- which is much harder than people give her credit for; accused her ex coach of doping violations-- which is much harder than people give her credit for; and now after all that has made her way back to the top. It’s like we all got to watch her grow into herself. She now is stronger and will stand up for what she believes in. It’s cool.

Johnny and I bonded because we have similar stories. Johnny was the bomb in college, but then has not lived up to expectations in the professional ranks. He went from being too serious about running, to questioning the purpose, to deciding he was going to not just make the Olympic Team, but win a medal for our Olympic Team. And I believe him. He has gone through the growing pains and now is running very well.
Plus! Both of us are kids at heart. In Jamaica after the meet, we gathered everyone to hang out in the pool. He said, “Let’s have a relay race!” and I said, “Yes! I have been training for this moment. And we are going to be good friends.”


HOLY SMOKES THIS KID IS GOOD. He is a 19 year old stud that is a potential favorite for the Olympic Trials. But there are so many wild cards! Can he handle the pressure? Can he handle rounds? Is that 1:43 he just ran replicable, or was it a perfect race? (For the record, I think he can handle the pressure, can handle the rounds, and can run 1:43 again in the near future).
His confidence should be through the roof, and it’s fun to watch youngsters figure out how much talent they have.

Brooks Beast Bros—CasLoxsom, Drew Windle, and Nick Symmonds
These 3 have such a good flow at practice.

Cas is high class. His idea of a good night is drinking expensive wine while having an intense debate about “who is the best runner of all time, really?” Plus he’s the fastest of the 3 in a 100m dash.
Drew is quite and observant. He’s smart and level headed. He’s raced well this season and is coming off a PR. He’s my dark horse pick for the 3rd spot.
Nick’s talent is between his ears. I imagine his to do list is something like:
Eat breakfast
Warm up
Win the Olympic Trials
Save Track and Field

And he doesn’t question it and gets it done. He is such an asset for our sport.

Hoka One One
Kyle has been hurt this season, but even hurt he is fun to be a fan of. He’s like that slightly awkward, yet hilarious, TV character everyone loves—like a more intelligent Cramer. His twitter is entertaining, his blog is insightful, and he would be voted “Most Popular” if the Track and Field community were high school.

Hoka One One
Leo is fun to be a fan of because you have no clue how he is going to run most of the time—the exception is the trials. He could get DFL in a low-key race one week, and then he’d be Olympic Champion the next. He is a game day racer—he needs the pressure of a Championship to perform. I respect that. I think he not only will win the trails, but I think he will win the Olympics.

Brooks Beast
Everyone has a crush on Garrett. He’s nice, well-rounded, blue collar, and works really F’in hard. He’s the mayor of track, if track were to have a mayor. He knows everyone. If for some reason we had to live off the land in backwoods Minnesota, he'd be the guy you'd want in your squad . He’s taken some serious scalps in cross-country, so the crappier the weather, the more I’m banking on Garrett to take the win.

Ben is such a mystery. He trains solo in the mountains. He cross-country skis in the winter for cross training. He wins 5ks. I often wonder to myself, “what’s he even doing up there?!” He’s an aerobic monster and his speed is good considering he run 3:36 recently at the Adidas Boost Games.

Things I appreciate about Ryan: his talent, his speed, his work ethic, his kick, his ability to win, and his quick one-liners. I wish someone would mic Ryan up so we could all be privy to his jokes he murmurs under his breath.
He’s probably our best chance to medal at the 5k, but he is coming off a poor showing at the Prefontaine Classic—which I’m assuming was poor because he was training right through it. His eyes are on the Olympic prize.
3k Steeple

Evan would be Mr. America of Track. He has flowing locks, and a light-on-his feet bouncy smooth stride. He really should be a Pantene Pro V spokes person.
He’s got some big goals, even though he rarely admits to them in interviews—he’s modest even though he is the class of the field. I appreciate that.I think this is the year he breaks 8 minutes in the steeple and the year he nabs a medal at the Olympics.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

PHE-SHIRTS! (Like Tee Shirts but cooler)

Do you frequently stand in front of your closet shirtless and think, "man, it would be really cool if I had a decent shirt. A shirt that is more than just a regular old shirt--A shirt that stood for something, a shirt that helped fund a possible future olympian's dream, a shirt that shows my fan support for professional runner, Phe."
I too sometimes think that.
And now you, YES YOU, can own a Stop Phe Phe Shirt.

The shirt will not only allow you to quit walking around naked, but it will also personally warm my heart to know that there are literally dozens of you out there willing to support my goal of being an Olympian.

Seriously, you get a cool shirt and the satisfaction of knowing you made my day, and I get a little bit of funding for travel to the Olympic Trials.

Plus! If you find me at the Trials, let's take a selfphe! 


Friday, February 26, 2016


Let’s bring up the elephant in the room for a second: EATING DISORDERS SUCK AND ARE SUPER PREVALENT AND NEED TO BE TALKED ABOUT. And most of us are scared to talk about it. I personally am scared because I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, and I feel like I don’t have the authority to talk about it, and I honestly don’t know how to even talk about it.

But we need to talk about it. Because an eating disorder inherently protect itself by hiding. So the only way to productively handle this beast is to expose it. And this beast is everywhere in the running world. So let’s talk about it!

How eating disorders attack a person. Most people say “she developed an eating disorder.” But I don’t like how that is framed. No one wants an eating disorder. No one consciously chooses to develop an eating disorder.
“Develop” has too much of a good connotation to be used with “eating disorder.” Instead, I like to think that an eating disorder attacks a person—our friend or teammate. Learning how it attacks a person is important so we can learn how to recognize it and not be scared to address it.


Eating disorders are sneaky things. They infiltrate a person’s mind and slowly take over without anyone really noticing. They are contagious. They provide almost instant (and addictive) results. And they are dangerous. Compared to other addictions, an eating disorder might be the trickiest to navigate. It’s like it has a super stealthy arsenal to attack a person from the inside out.

Weapons of eating disorders:

1. It’s stealthy

It breaks in without anyone noticing. It’s not like people wake up one day and think, “Oh heck! I have an eating disorder now!” It is much more stealthy than that. In fact, it poses as a good thing at first. It starts off as a nutrition goal. It makes the person feel good. It provides immediate results, and it is easy to correlate these results to the food. It hooks them in by appearing to be beneficial.

2. It hides

After it gets in, it slowly grows from “nutrition conscious” to “nutrition obsessive” to “full blown addiction.” Day by day, it slowly shifts the person’s idea of “normal” farther to the extreme. There is a metaphor called the boiling frog problem: If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will jump right out. If you put a frog in a pot of warm water and slowly heat it up, it will boil to death because it doesn't perceive danger. The onset is too gradual for the frog to notice a problem. An eating disorder is a boiling frog problem. (obesity, global warming, and most other catastrophic problems are usually boiling frog problems).

It is easy for it to hide—there’s no evidence until there are symptoms. You can't take a blood test and it come back positive. There's no needles or pipes or pills, there's no casino. There's not really a noticeable trigger. Nothing. The evidence is literally nothing—eating nothing. Once there are symptoms, the disorder is too big for the person to control. I think of it like termites. You don’t notice termites until they’ve done so much damage that the structural integrity of the house is unstable.

This is an insensitive analogy, but in a microbiology class one time we were talking about "successful" viruses—viruses that are most prolific. The most successful are the ones that 1. Hide from the host and 2. Don’t kill the host. There it can go undetected while it spreads. So Ebola is an in-your-face virus. You know if you are infected. It is apparent there is a problem. You can quarantine and try to fix yourself. If there were a mass outbreak, eventually everyone would die and thus would the virus. HIV on the other hand, is sneaky. You don’t know when you get it. There aren’t noticeable symptoms. It spreads without you knowing, and by the time you know you have a problem, game over.

Eating disorders are the master chess players like HIV. That's exactly what this thing does. It hides and slowly takes over the person without the person noticing. It manages to do just enough.

3. It protects itself with the person's identity.

As the eating disorder becomes a bigger problem, it becomes harder to hide. But it has a defense mechanism for this: it protects itself with the person’s identity. It takes over the person’s thoughts. The disorder dictates what they eat, when they eat, if they can eat out, how much anxiety they have, who their friends are, what their body looks like. It becomes the loudest voice. It is hard to separate the person’s voice and identity from the identity of the eating disorder.

The disorder makes the person feel shame. Shame is powerful. It makes the person submit to the voice of the disorder. The disorder has one mission: protect itself. It doesn’t care about relationships or friends or being happy. It only cares about not getting exposed. It will burn relationships in a heartbeat to keep itself a secret. HOT DAMN THIS THING IS A BASTARD. This is why a lot of times the person struggling isolates themselves from the group. Being around others feels vulnerable, and feeling vulnerable means feeling shame.

This is why no one wants to attack thing. Attacking the thing almost feels like attacking the person. It gets intertwined in the identity of the person affected by it--not only does it affect the mind, it affects the body--that's kind of a whole being. It's hard to separate the person from the disorder. This protects it. Because to expose it puts the person's identity in a vulnerable position.

4. It becomes the identity of the person. 
Sometimes the eating disorder becomes such a huge part of the person, that there isn’t much left of the person at all. It reminds me of Star Wars. Anakin Skywalker was attracted to the dark side of the force because it made him feel powerful. This power was an illusion. Anakin never had the power. The power overtook Anakin. Darth Vader became the loudest voice in Anakin’s head. Anakin Skywalker was essentially dead. And (SPOILER ALERT!) it took A WHOLE LOTTA LOVE to get Anakin to wake up! YEAH! LOVE!

Those are the weapons of the disorder: It breaks in with no evidence. It hides. It takes over. It protects itself with the identity of the person. It becomes the identity of the person.

This addiction in a lot of ways is harder to address than a heroin or drug addiction. Think about a heroin addiction: There's evidence. Something concrete where I can say, "I don't like that needle going into your body. I don't like how it makes you act for the following hours." But with a food issue, there is no equivalent. I can't be all, "Hey Teammate. I don't like how you act all the time." There's nothing external to demonize to be the fall guy.

We've got to expose the weapons and make people aware that there is a difference between an eating disorder and a person. And then we have to love the ever living heck out of the person and help them be strong enough to fight the disorder.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Art of Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing.

 Runners are great at being perfectionists.  It's what makes us good. We have such attention to detail.  But there is a fine line between paying attention to details (which is good!) and getting lost in the details (bad! bad!). The devil is in the details, remember?  

We’ve all heard the advice: “It’s about the little things,” they say, “Do the 1%” they say.

Well, this is kind of misleading advice. There, I said it. Because focusing on the 99% is probably going to get you farther than focusing on the 1%. That’s math. Or common sense? Sometimes, we get too zoomed in and can’t see the forest through the trees. This is a problem. It is good to take care of the little things, as long as the little things don’t become the main things.

Let’s talk for a second about the things that aren’t the main things:

What you ate pre-race.
If you got a cup of coffee.
If you got a massage.
What spikes you are wearing.
How you felt in your pre race workout
What your weight is.
What the pace is supposed to be.
Doing too many strides.
Doing too little strides.
Doing too fast strides.
How much you hydrated.
Talking about all the race plans.
How much you were on your feet yesterday.
How much you slept last night.
The workout your competitor tweeted about.
How fast you did your warm up.
What lane number you are.
That damn weather!

Let’s talk about the main things that are the main things:

1. The work you put in over the last few months.
2. Your mindset.

It is actually kind of hard to mess up your race the day of—You’d have to do extreme weightlifting and sprint a mile during your warm-up. Or maybe join fight club and not talk about it. Or maybe join cross fit and talk about it. And that still wouldn’t affect your race as much as you’d think.

The problem is it is so so tempting to get stuck on the details.

Reasons why the details are easy to focus on:

1. Details help you take the pressure off. It’s like a defense mechanism. It resolves you from responsibility of your race. If you don’t race well, it is a nice excuse to fall back on. “Well, I would have raced well, except…”
I personally use/love/hate the “I would have raced well except I had bad positioning” too often.

It’s really scary to try and lose and have to be like, “Well. I’m not as fit as I’d like.” Or “I didn’t try as hard as I wanted to.”
That makes you feel bad on the inside. Where if you raced badly because of that Chicken Phad Thai spicy level 4 stomach issue, then it’s not really your fault!

2. Details allow you to zoom in so much that you don’t have to think about the race or the outcome. It is scary to line up and have no clue if you are going to win. It is stressful. One Phoebe tested (and unapproved) way to deal with stress: not think about the stressful situation whatsoever! (I call this “compartmentalizing”) Instead! Think about minor stressful situations that you can fix, and then feel that sweet, sweet since of relief when you fix them. NOTE: This is a terrible problem solving method.

3. Details allow you to feel like the race result is predetermined. If you take care of all the details, then it is the universe’s way of saying, “Don’t worry, Phe, all the evidence suggests that you have already won this race.”

Being a slave to the details is a terrible habit. It puts the fate of your race into the environment. And the environment is fickle. So don’t do it! And when you do it even though I just told you not to do it, these self-talk phrases can help talk you back to reality:

If ____________ ruins your race, your race wasn’t going to be jack shit anyway.

______________ is nothing compared to all the work you did leading up to this.

Weather affects the whole field, remember?

You never worry about this at practice.

You have run well before when this happened.

Just try hard. That’s all you have to do. Literally.

Bottom line: Don’t be a perfectionist. Be an ADAPTABLE perfectionist.