Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 128 - Megan Flanagan - LEAD RUNNER CHICK

Yeah, definitely the mountains. I was born on the East Coast, grew up on the Midwest, lived in the South Texas for a while, and Kentucky and then moved over to Utah, Oregon, and now Colorado. So, I would really say the West was a draw for me. The mountains really called out and the first time I visited the mountains, I was almost like, wow, these are a little scary.

MEGAN: [00:00:00] Yeah, definitely the mountains. I was born on the East Coast, grew up on the Midwest, lived in the South Texas for a while, and Kentucky and then moved over to Utah, Oregon, and now Colorado. So, I would really say the West was a draw for me. The mountains really called out and the first time I visited the mountains, I was almost like, wow, these are a little scary. Like, they kind of swallow you in a way if you come from flat ground or you grew up, I’m pretty Flatland. But now it’s like I could never go back. I mean, it’s crazy to, you know, go outside this area and then return and just be like, oh, yeah, this is why I moved out here.

[Intro Music]

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JESSE: [00:01:26] Welcome to the Smart Athlete Podcast. I’m your host, Jesse Funk. My guest today has her master’s in public health. She’s been competitively running for 13 years and weightlifting for the last seven plus counting now. She’s a former NCAA Division 1 collegiate athlete both in cross country and track, founder of Strong Runner Chicks, which is a community of female distance runners.

And you can listen to her much like you listen to this show, on Stronger Runner Chick radio, another podcast which I’m sure is available on a ton of platforms, she can tell us here a second. She’s also associated with Trail Runner Magazine, she’s a part of their coach concierge team. So, if you get that you can check into that. Or if you’re interested in private run coaching she’s also a run coach. Welcome to the show, Megan Flanagan

MEGAN: [00:02:11] Thank you. Happy to be on. Thanks for having me, Jesse. It’s good to be here.

JESSE: [00:02:14] Yeah, absolutely. So, for you listening, you don’t know this because this will come out in a couple weeks but this is — we’re the day after Thanksgiving so if we’re a little lethargic, I’ll apologize in advance. We’re probably still full of turkey and all that good stuff. I guess I should say I am. I don’t know what Megan ate yesterday, aside from friends brought [inaudible 00:02:36] and it was not stressful for her.

MEGAN: [00:02:38] My friends brought ham. They didn’t want to do turkey this year. So, yeah, buy lots of good food, tons of vibe.

JESSE: [00:02:44] Sounds like I should have come to your house. I prefer ham versus turkey.

MEGAN: [00:02:46] Really? We should have swapped. I prefer turkey.

JESSE: [00:02:50] Nice. So, we were talking before we got going that you’ve kind of lived a little bit of everywhere. So, if people ask you where you’re from, you’re a little perplexed as to say where you’re from. You’re in Colorado now and did some trail running, get into that. Did the trails take you out there? What drew you to Colorado, I guess?

MEGAN: [00:03:16] Yeah, definitely the mountains. I was born on the East Coast, grew up on the Midwest, lived in the South Texas for a while, and Kentucky and then moved over to Utah, Oregon, and now Colorado. So, I would really say the West was a draw for me. The mountains really called out and the first time I visited the mountains, I was almost like, wow, these are a little scary. Like, they kind of swallow you in a way if you come from flat ground or you grew up, I’m pretty Flatland. But now it’s like I could never go back. I mean, it’s crazy to, you know, go outside this area and then return and just be like, oh, yeah, this is why I moved out here is great.

JESSE: [00:04:04] Yeah. You know, I talked to, now I can’t remember the episode but Sarah Lavender Smith who wrote the Train Running Companion Guide, or I’m saying that wrong. But if you look her up, I’m sure that the book will pop up; talking about trail running. And I kind of like did — trail running but it is kind of sparse around here, unfortunately. So, I kind of feel like it’s almost like I’m battling uphill to get into it since I’ll have to do a lot of traveling to make any kind of real inroads into good competitive trail running races, and just getting in any training that’s not relatively flat.

MEGAN: [00:04:48] Yeah, yeah. It definitely presents a challenge to a lot of people that are — Even I just moved here from sea level. I mean, Portland’s at sea level. Not a lot of people know, but it makes training for mountain races a little more challenging, knowing what you’re up against.

JESSE: [00:05:01] Have you adjusted yet to the new altitude? Are you still like feeling the time?

MEGAN: [00:05:05] Yeah, I’d say so. I’m definitely sensitive to it. So, I noticed the first you know, four to six weeks, but it’s gotten a lot better. And having lived at altitude prior, like in Utah for a couple years, I think that was the biggest shock and then coming back to it’s like, oh, yeah, I remember this. But I only live at six. I tell people like 12 is a lot different from six or doing a 14er still hurts, you still feel that.

JESSE: [00:05:29] Yeah. I’m not sure. Yeah, I mean, even for altitude adjusted people, I don’t know that people don’t feel when you get that high. I don’t know that there’s anybody that’s like, yeah, no big deal. It’s fine.

MEGAN: [00:05:40] Right. Yeah. All affected a little differently, right.

JESSE: [00:05:44] Yeah. And I mean, maybe there’s going to be an outlier that’s like, I don’t know, pretends. But I just think there’s a reason that there’s so few, like human population, or cities that are at that altitude anywhere on the planet. You know, it’s a difficult place to live. I wonder, so I’m projecting and picking on you a little bit. But since you’ve lived everywhere, I wonder will you stick in Colorado, or will wonder lust hit you and make you feel like you’ve got to go somewhere else?Am I on track? Or you’re like, no, this is — I’m here, like this is it?

MEGAN: [00:06:24] Yeah, I think this is it. Which is weird for me to say because I’ve moved around every couple years for almost my whole life. And so to be like, yeah, this is home, it’s kind of like, whoa, it’s crazy. But you never know, right? Like, I just don’t know what the future holds.

So, I don’t want to say for sure that I’d be here forever. But even within Colorado, so many different mountain towns and areas you can move in the front range. So, for those that don’t know, that’s kind of anywhere from Colorado Springs, I think up to Fort Collins, so kind of within that Denver metro and surrounding areas, which yeah, I’m happy with. There’s plenty of people, things to do, and you still get the benefit of having good mountain access.

JESSE: [00:07:06] Good mountain access, good airport access.

MEGAN: [00:07:07] Am I selling everyone on Colorado?

JESSE: [00:07:10] I feel like Colorado, kind of sells itself [crosstalk] so many people move out there.

MEGAN: [00:07:14] I gotta tell people to not move here, right? I’m one of those people.

JESSE: [00:07:17] Tell us about all the bad things. These are the reasons not to move here.

MEGAN: [00:07:21] Well, with all the climate change stuff, if you’ve — depending on your beliefs and such, but there’s a lot happening here, like the windy gusts are really bizarre. And some of the weather if you don’t like, going from extreme snow to like 70s the next day, then you wouldn’t like it here. So, maybe if you don’t like a lot of sun. Some people like the rain, you don’t see a lot of rain. And you don’t see a lot of green either or oceans.

So, not a lot of water, not a lot of — Yeah, a lot of that. Does that talk everybody out of it? Maybe? And it’s crowded. Oh, and cost of living. [crosstalk] Cost of living is insane. Good luck finding a house. Anyway, I’m done with my show here in Colorado.

JESSE: [00:08:01] Yeah, we’ll just like — We’re going down a whole other rabbit hole, which is my tendency. I was going to say we could start a tend city, but then that’s — I realized I was like, that’s a whole other conversation. I didn’t mean to go that direction. I was just trying to make a joke and then something’s too close to home, I think as far as reality. So, let’s get back to running I guess. So, running in college, running post-college, coaching people now, why continue?

I mean, I’m sure I’m positive that you, like me, know plenty of ex-collegiate athletes that just gave it up and got fat because they kept eating and didn’t accommodate for all the not running? So, I mean, why continue putting in the work? You know, it’s not easy being a competitive athlete, let alone continuing when you’re outside of that team college structure.

MEGAN: [00:09:06] Yeah, I think I’ve always known I wanted to be more of an athlete for life, like the long term sustainable approach to it. And even like, my teammates would always kind of see me as that person that was just going to keep on going and I just thought that was normal. Like yeah, why wouldn’t you want to continue on with the sport and get into trails and ultra running.

And I think I was voted most likely to run in ultra a few times among my smaller team when we were doing 5K’s in early days of high school and such. So, anyway, I kind of had that in me. I think I just enjoyed running long. I love trails and just love the process of training more so than the racing itself. And I’ve always liked that community aspect too, of just continuing to find and build community. And I always say running has been like this sort of string that’s followed me.

So, everywhere I’ve moved, all nine plus states in the US at least, I found really cool running communities within and that’s been a way to meet people, connect with people. And then obviously, like podcasting, right, you can meet people from all over. And you go stay somewhere and you know some people already through the podcast or through some other race, that that’s just been a really cool experience to me.

JESSE: [00:10:15] It’s interesting now. I mean, given that you’ve moved all over, seen all kinds of different people, met all kinds of different people, was that the impetus for founding Strong Runner Chicks where now you’ve got basically a community that moves with you regardless of where you are?

MEGAN: [00:10:36] Yeah. Somewhat. Yeah, I would probably say I didn’t think of it that way. I started it in college. And I more so saw there was like this gap for women runners, specifically, especially collegiate athletes. Like, there just wasn’t a great platform other than Let’s Run, or I Run Far, some of those other ones. And Runner’s World just was like, get off the couch, run your first 5K, and it’s like, that’s not where a college distance runner is thinking. They need someone to tell them to tone it down, to actually allow themselves to eat that extra serving or whatever. So, it’s just like a different mindset, I think about what maybe they need to hear and that kind of messaging. So, I was like, why not start an online community.

And there, back when I started, it was like, blogging was a little more of a thing back in 2015. So, seven whole years ago. Now things have shifted, and it’s like podcasting, and even video now, and just different elements. And then the desire to do in-person kind of events also came from that, and just a really cool way to connect with other women. Like, our first retreat, we had in 2018, I didn’t know a single person there.

And it was just so cool to show up and us all have a sense of we already know each other from sort of the online space. And we’ve supported one another through the years. And then now we’re getting to meet in person two-three years later. So, yeah, that’s been a really neat experience. And something that can — I kind of see it as a bonus too. It can follow you around when you have this virtual or online community too.

JESSE: [00:12:08] So, you’re like holding camps over the summer. So, I guess for you the listener, if you didn’t grow up in cross country, it is not uncommon that — I mean, your coach in particular might have just training over the summer, they might send you off to do training by yourself. It depends on your state’s athletic associations and regulations. But it’s also not uncommon to go off and do a training camp for a week or 10 days or two weeks or something. So, is that the kind of situation that you’re putting together for collegiate, post-collegiate athletes?

MEGAN: [00:12:39] A little bit, yeah. So, a lot of college athletes already have that in place. But we did have some college athletes come to our retreat. A retreat was almost like a weekend away from training in a sense. Like, it wasn’t really training camp oriented, like some people did workouts, we did some long runs, etc. But it was kind of like, hey, take a few days and don’t have organized training. Because again, you’re speaking to a different audience, right?

Like a lot of these people have just grown up with, and myself included, it’s all about the numbers. It’s like, you got to hit these times, run a PR. And so sometimes it’s nice to actually come away from that and just focus on like, hey, we’re going to not totally kick back, but like, continue to train and support each other, but like, not have the pressure on us. So, that’s kind of what it is. Yeah.

But we’ve looked into — we volunteered with certain training camps. I helped out at Carrie Tollefson, one year in Minneapolis, and then Melody Fairchild. We had a girl from SRC or a woman, Miranda, go speak there. So, it’s been really cool to like, see what people have done within the communities. But I don’t necessarily coach high school or middle school yet or right now. So, maybe in the future. It’s like, one more thing on my plate. But it seems awesome to do. So, if anyone’s listening that wants to, I’d encourage them to get into that. And there’s a lot of camps in that regard too. But then COVID [inaudible 00:13:58] in a lot of things too, so we’ve put that on hold.

JESSE: [00:14:02] Right. There is so many little niches for coaching and coaching specialization. And I think you kind of have to decide maybe a little bit like who do you connect with the most. Not to say like, I don’t know if connection’s the right word because if you’re coaching middle school or high school, like you don’t connect with your athletes as peers in that sense, or like it may be easier for you with post-collegiate athletes to connect with the people you hang out as peers a little, a little more.

But just like there’s it’s a different kind of impacts depending on where that individual is in their running journey. You know, when it’s their real — just starting out middle school, high school, you set the foundation basically. And then you get the chance to, it sounds like, so please correct me if I’m wrong, you know, take people who have been through the whole thing, they’ve gotten polishing in college, maybe some post collegiate stuff.

And then it’s like, okay, what bad habits do we need to break? Like, I think about this sometimes. I think if you look on the Instagram for Strong Runner Chicks, I think there’s a lot of posts on there that allude to this, like the mentality around getting away from some, I’ll call it toxic runner mentality. I don’t know that I have a good word for it. But just like, there’s a recent post you have from — is a quote from Lauren Fleshman about running is not who I am. It’s something I do, something I love.

And that’s something, I think, a lot of runners struggle with, especially collegiate or post-collegiate when the team goes away about running. That’s who I am. I’m a runner. [crosstalk] And like divorcing yourself from that. So, it seems like maybe you get to spend more time kind of working on the person rather than let’s just talk about the perfect, like running routine to get you to the next level.

MEGAN: [00:16:15] Yeah, there’s so much more to that, right? Like the perfect running routine’s great. But yeah, if you get injured, or you know, you can’t run for a couple weeks, for whatever reason, who are you without running? And that’s such a crazy question. And one that I admittedly haven’t really had to face head on, because I’ve never had that injury or like that setback. So, it’s been kind of like a, I guess a luxury too, to recognize that like, oh, yeah, who would I be without running?

I probably should know that even if I’m not injured, because a lot of runners wait till that point of whatever causes that injury or family loss or something where they just stop running and lose sight of themselves. And I think that’s all athletes, right? Like any college athlete or competitive athlete, when they stop competing, they’re like, what do I do now? And so rather than being a crisis in the future, like how can you kind of think about that now and have different passions, hobbies, yeah.

JESSE: [00:17:06] Yeah. So, when I read that quote on Instagram, it made me think about a conversation I had with Kim Vandenberg, who’s an Olympic bronze medal star from 2008 when she was on the show. It’s episode 97 if you want to listen to that particular one after you’re done here with my conversation with Megan. But she was talking about like the kids, she coaches because she coaches really young kids and in swimming, that’s very common. And I think she was telling me a story about one young girl in particular who’s just hyper motivated. Like, I want to be the best.

And you need that motivation if you want to be the best, but she was really trying to focus in with this girl, and be like you need something else. Like, you can’t — this can’t be the whole of your identity. And Kim loves it too because she plays the piano, she played the piano, like I got a little impromptu piano recital on the podcast, so that was fun. But it’s tough, especially when you devote so much time to it, and especially like distance running or ultras, it’s such a time sink. So, then, how much time and energy do you have to devote to anything else and think outside of that mentality?

MEGAN: [00:18:24] Yeah, that’s true and that’s one reason. Well, I don’t know. But I feel that way with road marathon training sometimes. Like, oh, my gosh, this is my whole thing. I think ultra running, at least with the trails and such, kind of opens up doors too, because you’re not like, confined to some structured plan. Not that that’s bad. I mean, I certainly I’m transitioning right now to roads for the foreseeable four to six months, just back to road marathon training. But I think that’s kind of what drew me into trails and ultras is like, oh, yeah, you can count a 14 or hike as training. You can count, you know, I got into obstacle racing because I could rock climb. And it’s like, oh, all these other cool things that sort of branch you outside of the traditional running sense. Yeah.

JESSE: [00:19:12] So, there’s a lot there — Obstacle racing, is that where the strength training comes in where you’re like, I’ve gotta do that? Or is that like, how does the weightlifting come in? I mean, I know that it’s very common when you get to college and you’re starting to do strength training, whereas maybe your high school coaches didn’t do that, even if you’re a runner. But like, does it all work together somehow or is it just tangentially related?

MEGAN: [00:19:36] Yeah. Oh, like I don’t know if you mean my own training or the athletes I coach too, I see it all working together really well. I mean, certainly, if you like strength training, I mean, I’ve always loved it. I just enjoy it. So, I do it maybe more than is necessary, right, like the bare minimum needed to get by in running. Some runners get by without it and that’s fine, I guess.

Like, I mean, if they’re doing preventive work, and they’re doing bodyweight and core and such, maybe they can do it as in like, not get injured and do it successfully. For me, that’s never been a draw. I just, I really enjoy it. So, I’ve had to scale back and learn that, oh, yeah, I actually do a lot better with two days a week, full body strength training than four days a week of like, upper lower or whatever kind of split routine. That’s usually what I recommend too if we’re talking like, for runners, generally.

I think two, maybe three days a week max of full body can be just as effective if not more than taking yourself away from running. Right? Because a lot of runners see that as like time spent away from running, right, that they could be spent running. But I do think it pays off to a certain extent and certainly has kept me — I’ve been knock on wood injury free for 13 years of my running career.

And I think I attribute a lot of that to strength training. And I noticed when I don’t do it, or slack on it, then start to have those little things creep in. Like, oh, Achilles pain or IT band. So, yeah, just kind of something that I use for preventive. And then also, it’s empowering too. I think it’s like, oh, yeah, I can really run this hill hard or fast because I spent that time in the gym doing those step ups that prepared me for this, or whatever it is.

JESSE: [00:21:20] I think sometimes it is difficult to try to get somebody who’s just focused on running to do something else. I think, to me, it boils down to the simple idea that you’ll hear thrown around that if you want to get better at running, you need to run more. Right? And it’s like, kind of, but it depends. How many times do you get questions from people and you just go well, it depends.

MEGAN: [00:21:51] A lot of it depends, right? Yeah, totally. I mean, yeah, I think, to a certain extent, right, like the specificity thing. But you were mentioning obstacle racing. And like rock climbing is very specific to obstacle racing to an extent, but certain parts of it, or components to strength also apply to both. And I also kind of see that in your strength training, like I was saying the step ups. I mean, step ups is very consistent or sort of like, yeah, it sort of applies to running in a sense, anything single leg, you do that in running, you’re alternating your legs and your stance, some core routines.

Runners don’t need to do a ton of upper body, but I still think it’s pretty cool to be a runner and be able to do a set of pull ups or something. And push ups can work your core too. So, yeah, runners can’t just be all bent over, hunched over. So, we need strong cores and upper body too.

JESSE: [00:22:47] Yeah. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to explain that too where it’s like, yes, you need strong legs, but like, you have to move your head. And if your core is a noodle, it takes energy to get your head because it’s full up and about because you don’t have a strong core. I think if you haven’t been around, running long enough, maybe it’s a little counterintuitive or like haven’t taken any anatomy or any kinesiology classes or anything like that. It’s like well, I just need strong legs to go fast, right? It’s like, well, there’s a little more to it than that, right?

MEGAN: [00:23:20] Yeah. Right. Definitely.

JESSE: [00:23:23] I do want to ask you a little bit about, I guess I’ll call your day job — I don’t know what your split is, as far as like, taking care of all your athletes and doing all the other things you do. But my assistant sends all the information to me on you. And the thing I kind of highlighted out of that was about you working with corporations and helping to implement sustainable change in people’s lives.

So, I wanted to ask about that in particular. I guess you can maybe give an overview of what you do or have done over your career. But I’m interested, in particular, about the sustainable change part because I think it is difficult for some people to begin something new, but then stick with it. It’s easier to fall back into bad habits. So, I’m just curious how you approach that situation?

MEGAN: [00:24:20] Yeah, there’s so many parallels as you’re even asking that question that I think I could get to. I think I started off my career in like academics focused on the individual, and how I could create change in their life. And that’s what I do now with my athletes or clients.

But then there’s like this whole bigger picture that we don’t always think about. Like, what are they doing the other 23 hours of the day that they’re not with you. Or after that run what’s their day job like or what’s their home life like? And do they have a safe neighborhood to go running in? Just things like that, that you don’t always think about? And I think that my Master’s in Public Health kind of opened my eyes to that.

And then I think about in the workplace we spent so much of our lives at work. So, if you’re a runner out there, it’s like, is your job supporting your running? Or is it deteriorating? You know, I know a lot of people that are on their feet all day for — they’re a nurse or they’re on the frontlines. So, they’ve got some crazy schedule that’s not consistent, and that’s probably going to impact your running.

Or you find a way to work around that. Right? So, it’s kind of like navigating that. I mean, I know a couple nurses that — I was talking to one on the podcast months ago now, but just about like, how she navigates that and seems to still do well in ultras. But it’s sort of like how you apply that to your training. So, that’s one small piece of it.

And yeah, I guess just like I said, looking at the whole picture, I think our social networks too are a huge part of that. Like I said, I run for that sense of community. And I think we can sort of — how can you make your life — so not just you as a person, like you want to create this own change, like I want to run at these times, and I want to hit this mileage per week, or I want to run 100 next year, and I am signed up for one — how am I going to get there and not just me, but like through my community?

Like, am I going to set up runs, group runs Tuesday, Thursday evening? Do I have something in place like those structures and systems where they just become more automatic, versus us constantly having to think and plan because it takes so much brain power?

So, that was kind of like a long winded way of just saying, think about the systems and the structures around you and like, is your job going to support you running that 100? Or is your family? Do you have friends? Do you have a coach? Like, how are you going to get there? Yeah, what trails are you going to run, etc, that kind of help you get there?

JESSE: [00:26:42] Yeah, it’s — I mean, it’s the old adage about it takes a village, right? And that in particular is about raising a child, but — [crosstalk] It applies to running, any large long term project I think it’s an adequate adage. But talking about systems building which is something I’m always interested in, because especially now here, I am talking with you, I’ve got my phone next to me, which could be a distraction. It’s not, in this particular case, but just like, we always have it here, right. It’s always nearby, it lights up, it buzzes.

And so like, there’s so many distractions that can pull us away from what we should be doing that that’s why I like systems building in our personal lives and on the business side, but just for our case, here, the personal lives, because like, you make decisions, and you’re like, well, this is just how I do things. And then it’s no longer about motivation. I guess I’ll ask you about, do people ask you about how do I get motivated or how do I stay motivated?

MEGAN: [00:27:54] Oh, yeah. And I tell them it’s not. Like I’m motivated to go on my runs, maybe half, 70% — I mean, it is a sign though, if you’re never motivated maybe you need to do something different. Like, I’ll notice if I really dread going on a run all the time, then yeah. But it’s almost automated. Like, when I wake up, I’m a morning runner. So, it’s like just kind of do my thing. And I have a dog that sits there too. He’s like, are you going to leave yet? Or are you taking me or what’s going on? Because he’s kind of like, meh, fairweather runner. But that’s another side note. But they can even like pets or family members are kind of like pushing you out the door or helping you get out the door in some way.

So, I think it does become automated, where it’s almost an expectation that like, oh, yeah, by 07:00 AM, if I’m not out there on the trail, there’s something wrong or it’s just kind of like my way of life most days, right? I mean, of course, I have an off day or two, but just kind of like, how you live your life and how, yeah, kind of where you set those boundaries. I know I’m same with bedtime and stuff. Like, if I’m not in bed by 10:00, or 11:00, at the very latest. And that’s like late for me, then there’s a problem. That’s just how I run. And I think just knowing the way that you work as a human and like when you kind of have those working with your cyclical nature. Because whether we like to admit it or not, I think our biological clock kind of likes a semblance of routine or structure.

So, figuring out what that is for you and working with it has just been — yeah, that’s just been a constant in my life. And it’s funny because I do, I kind of hate monotony. I don’t like doing the same thing all the time. I like talking to new people, doing new things, breaking the schedule up, or changing where I run, right? So, out of every morning of the week, I have the luxury I don’t need to run the same trail every single time. But I am waking up around the same time and I’m getting out there at the same time. So, that kind of stuff, right? Like you can make it consistent, but also switch it up to have a little bit of that, yeah, fun in there, spontaneity.

JESSE: [00:29:53] Yeah. Well, and that’s funny. I was actually talking about that on the videos I was shooting earlier because I kind of felt that today where I was just like I don’t — the mileage I needed I was like, I’ve done this kind of run a number of times, it’s like eight miler. And I’m like, I’ve done like sevens this week, kind of building back in after I was doing some maintenance mile while I was on vacation.

And I’m like, I’ve done these runs, like I need something else. And it was even just like, just a small variation, just going the opposite way, taking a couple different streets, like just something helps break up some of the monotony. And I mean, that’s the trouble with distance running, right, is like, you have to be consistent if you want to make any progress. But if you do the exact same thing, then you’re probably going to want to bang your head against the wall because you’re so bored of what you’re doing.

I do want to back up a little bit and I’ll play devil’s advocate a little bit. So, I don’t know when you started reading, but I’m going to assume a relatively young age like I did. So, I think for people like us, it may be — this is, again, play devil’s advocate, a little easier for us, because we already have the systems in place from when we’re young, right? So, have you worked with, or know anyone who started running as an adult, and successfully implemented those systems and made a life change? Because I feel like, we already have the momentum of our lives going in this direction, working positively for us, where we, again, the substance’s built, we don’t have to think about it. But when you’re implementing it, there is thinking that has to be done. So, can you talk about that situation?

MEGAN: [00:31:42] Yeah, I do. I mean, I don’t have a remarkable running story of like couch to 100 quite yet. But I’m taking clients if anyone wants to be that story. But I do have folks, especially that I’ve worked with around because I’ve been a personal trainer for now seven plus years around establishing those healthy habits and those like strength training. And sometimes we’ll get into running a 5K later on. But strength training too is hard, because they got to get into the gym, they got to overcome these barriers, like some people just walking into the gym is like, oh my gosh, or signing up for a race. It’s like, whoa, that’s a big step. So, yeah, it’s one step at a time. Little bits.

Like I said, that social connection piece is so huge. Like the social component, like a lot of them will get their neighbor involved and like, their neighbor comes over for a garage workout once a week. And so it’s not just me being their only support in their life, they have to have other sources.

And then knowing like, if they do slip up a day or two, like hey, they miss a one run or two runs, okay, but no more than two, right? Like, after they miss two days, they’re right back on it, and they get in and they just have this sort of routine. Sometimes for people rewards too. And not just like rewarding yourself with a pile of doughnuts or whatever. Like, something that’s really going to help you get towards your goal.

So, it’s like hey, if I hit this marker or whatever it is that you have set for yourself, then how are you going to celebrate that and recognize your progress along the way? Because those milestones, you have to celebrate those little things. Otherwise, you’re just going to be like, oh, gosh, it’s like, six months away, I’m never going to get there. You know celebrate the milestones when you hit your first 5K You’ve run or your first mile that you’ve run, without walking something like that is major. So, I have helped people create that. And it’s really cool to see when they have made those changes. A few months down the road, it’s like, oh, my gosh, I couldn’t imagine my life before.

You know, before I did this thing before I was weightlifting regularly. I just, yeah, I feel terrible when I don’t now and they notice that. So, I think there’s definitely hope and yeah, we’re still probably a little biased, but it goes with anything too. I compare it to, like, I’m a terrible swimmer. Like, what if I wanted to start swimming for a triathlon or meditation? I’m not great at doing that regularly.

So, I’ve gone on like 30 day meditation, kind of gotten in the swing of things or set a goal for myself of like, doing it three out of five days a week. Something that’s more manageable for me than all seven days of the week, right? So, three or five days a week of, oh, yeah, I’m going to sit down to meditate. But anyway, so I guess just like thinking about yourself in that context of when, because I think we’ve all had those changes we tried to implement. And even though I’ve been a runner for all these years, it took a while to get into certain habits like rock climbing, consistently doing yoga, meditating, that kind of stuff I still have to work at.

JESSE: [00:34:38] The idea of trying to implement something new — I wish I knew who to attribute this quote to. I saw it on Reddit at some point. I don’t know. So, sorry, Reddit person or whoever, wherever it came from. But the idea that if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly. So, at first you’re like, what? Like, what are you talking about? Like all these motivational quotes about like, go do it and you’re going to be awesome, and they’re all very uplifting. And you’re like, what? See, that’s the thing about it. So, yeah, I miss the idea that if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing it a little bit versus not at all. Like, some amount of it is going to be better for you, even if it doesn’t meet the expectations of the plan, some amount of it and doing it poorly, is going to be better than not doing it.

Like, I feel like I do a lot of different things. And I won’t try to enumerate all of those things now. But just — I have lots of hobbies and stuff. And I personally put a lot of pressure on myself to be good at all of these things. But that’s like my own expectations. So, when I think about implementing new stuff, or trying to get into something, for whatever reason, that quote sticks with me, because it’s like it opens the release valve of pressure where it’s like, you bring your expectations down. And then you’re free to like, oh, you made a mistake, or you missed a day or whatever. It’s not the end of the world, get back, keep trying and make progress. So, do you have thoughts on that quote or that kind of line of thinking?

MEGAN: [00:36:25] Yeah, I like that. I think it’s interesting. It’s worth doing poorly. It’s like, okay, yeah, take some of the pressure off. Like, I think about running 100 next year, and I’m like, yeah, that might go terribly. But it’s worth doing, right? I mean, it’s like, you got to give it your best shot, but that holds a lot of people back from even taking action is that idea that it has to be perfect the first time or, and you know, this as an entrepreneur, probably.

But like launching that first podcast and cringing at yourself or, like yeah, if you’re going to try to run a 5K, like, it might not be perfect the first time or whatever it is. And I think of myself floundering in the pool of trying to swim a few laps is like, okay, yeah, that applies. But yeah, I think don’t let perfection hold you back or whatever, that one quote is on the like, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good, right? Like, if it’s decent or, right, then it’s still fine. If it’s poor, okay. But you got to show up for yourself in any way that you can.

JESSE: [00:37:20] Yeah, I know the quote as something like, and I’m sure there’s several there. Like, it’s like perfection is the enemy of progress. If you’re so focused on everything being just so, like, you’re going to miss out on moving forward. As a side note, if you decide to want to get into triathlon, send me an email or anybody, if you want to get into triathlon, send me an email. I have a great kind of coaching network of people that can help you with that. Especially your issue with swimming, I’ve somebody who’s very, very, very good at swimming, she could help you.

But no pressure, you already — you’re signed up for 100. You should probably focus on that versus trying to do a triathlon and that at the same time. [crosstalk] I mean, what was — I guess I should ask what was the motivation for doing 100 since it’s just the next challenge. Do you have that social connection where somebody’s like, Megan, we’re going to go do this and you’re like, okay, or were you the one that —

MEGAN: [00:38:20] Kind of a few of those. Yeah, so I was looking at doing 100. It’s been on my bucket list. I had the social pressure, influence of my friends starting to get more into them. And I’m thinking, gosh, I really — I need to do one of these soon at some point. And then I ran the Austin Rattler, and this was actually my coach was like, hey, you should consider doing Leadville next year, and I’m like, really? I don’t know about that. I’ll run the qualifying race and see. And then at this qualifying race, the Austin Rattler, which is in Texas, which is — Don’t ask me why that’s a Leadville qualifier, but it’s sea level and it’s pretty flat. So, I run this, I get a gold coin.

And they’re like, okay, are you in or are you out? You know, do you want to run this or not? [crosstalk] And I was like, well, I guess I’m in. You just don’t pass up an opportunity to run Leadville. And now I found out two to three of my other friends are doing it and probably more people I don’t know. But yeah, anyway, I’m pretty excited and I’m not in it alone. I have two other friends. I think for one, it’ll be her first 100 too. So, pretty cool and stoked about it. So, yeah, terrifying too. But if you’re not signed up for something that terrifies you, then what’s life, right? You got to live a little bit. Try something [inaudible 00:39:31]

JESSE: [00:39:32] Got to try to drive off the edge.

MEGAN: [00:39:34] A little bit, yeah.

JESSE: [00:39:35] So, I can’t remember, when is Leadville?

MEGAN: [00:39:38] It’s August of next year.

JESSE: [00:39:39] Okay. I was like I think you’ve got a little ways out. [crosstalk] Especially if you were talking about switching the road here for a little while. So, maybe we’ll check back in with you next year and see how that went.

MEGAN: [00:39:53] Yeah, please do.

JESSE: [00:39:56] So, I kind of want to wrap up a little bit. I almost want to ask you two of these because you touched on this earlier. So, I have a question that I asked every guest. Each season the question’s different. Funny enough, here we are near the end of the year, so maybe I’ll ask you both of them. We’ll get to the one for the season, but I’m going to ask you the one for next year because you’ve already touched on it. A friend suggested this to me. And the question for next year is going to be how do you celebrate your wins? You’ve already kind of touched on this, like celebrating the little things, because a lot of people pass them by.

MEGAN: [00:40:29] Oh, how do I celebrate my wins just in general?

JESSE: [00:40:32] Yeah.

MEGAN: [00:40:33] That’s a good question. I think — Oh, gosh, I guess in a lot of different ways, but I think just recognizing them. And like this sounds kind of whatever it might sound to people. But taking a moment to write them down so they’re actually on paper. So, it’s like, oh, yeah, I did have that win. Because then it’s nice to go look back a year or two years, if you’re feeling down, or whatever it is, or you just need some inspiration. I’m like, oh, I can be my own source of that, by seeing what I’ve done. Like I was just looking back on it. I’m not a huge notebook journaler, but I have sometimes in the past. So, I looked back two years ago, I saw that I wanted to live in Colorado and have this current job. And I was sort of planting those seeds and I wanted to do 100. I had — or do a 50. I did my first 50 this year.

But I wrote these things down, right? I want to have my own business, I want to do this thing. I want to work for whatever. And so it’s cool to write those on paper, put them out there. And then you look at it years down the road, and you go, oh, wow, I did those things. So, it’s almost like writing about the wins before they happen and what they will be. And then really taking a moment to like check them off and celebrate the fact that you’ve achieved those. Yeah, I don’t know. That’s the biggest piece I have but just like acknowledging them in the first place and then relishing in them and kind of taking that time to be like, oh, yeah, I did that thing. And that was pretty cool.

JESSE: [00:41:57] Yeah. And the reason that my friend suggested that to me for next year, is a little bit, not quite an antithesis, but a little bit in the opposite direction of this year’s questions. SO, I’ll ask you that now. It’s, how do you stay motivated after failing to reach a goal, since funnily enough, we’re kind of talking about motivation, not even being a factor. But I’ll ask you anyway, how do you stay motivated after failing to reach your goal?

MEGAN: [00:42:25] I think it’s like assessing what went wrong with the goal. Like, what were those factors, looking at it in an objective way. Like, why didn’t you quite hit that goal? What might you have changed? Admittedly, I mean I guess, Austin, I would have liked to win that race or second — I mean, it’s just like, okay, third was great. And that sounds ridiculous, probably to some people. But I went in with this hot shot kind of mind of like, oh, coming from altitude, it’ll be great.

And then like, a lot of things just didn’t go as planned and it wasn’t perfect. So, it’s not like I was disappointed at the end of the day. But there’s stuff I could have done differently not flown in the day before and spent seven or eight hours sitting the day before. I just felt kind of creaky and not great. So, just things you can do differently. And knowing that that leads to new opportunities, right.

I still got another race out of it that I’m signed up for now and that I can work towards. And I just think about goals I haven’t hit in the past and kind of thinking like, yeah, like I have — I’ve DNF one obstacle course race, Spartan world championships, and that was a huge letdown. But it was like hypothermia related and it was kind of out of my control in some sense. But other things like, yeah, could I have just packed differently? Like, I should have had a change of clothes. I should have had a crew member or somebody there to support me. I should have done this differently. So, anyway, just kind of going through. Maybe that’s kind of negative to say what you should have, but what are you — using that as fuel forward too, like in the next attempt, how are you going to change those things and just seeing it more as a learning experience.

JESSE: [00:43:55] No, I think that’s fair. In some ways, I mean, it takes the emotional sting out of it, right, where you’re like — I remember talking to Olympic rower Aquil Abdullah and he was talking about as he gets older, he looks at things more objectively. And it’s like, could I have done anything differently? And then also, just knowing just some days, you get beat — somebody just better than you. It just is what it is. There’s nothing that you — even if you had a perfect day, sometimes somebody that’s better just shows up and there’s nothing — [crosstalk]

MEGAN: [00:44:33] Yeah, they always say control the controllables, right. Not everything is controllable; competitors, weather.

JESSE: [00:44:39] Yeah. Megan, where can people find you, the podcast, Instagram all that kind of stuff; where can they get in touch?

MEGAN: [00:44:48] Yeah, they can find me — I’m @MegInspire on Instagram. is like my personal website. And then is where you can find Strong Runner Chicks. You can find our podcasts there. We’re on Spotify, Apple, Google Play, I think, Stitcher, maybe. And we’re @Strong RunChicks on Instagram. So, that’s an easy way to find us. Yeah. Anyway, that would be the best way to get in touch. Or, again, if you’re a trail runner, if you subscribe to Outside Magazine or Trail Runner Mag, go find us over there. And you can ask me a question for an in depth response. So, yeah, thanks.

JESSE: [00:45:30] Awesome. Thanks for hanging out with me today, Megan.

MEGAN: [00:45:33] Thanks. This is great. Thanks, Jesse.

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