Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 134 - Sarah McMahon - Live to Thrive

There’s a ton of trails here, like ten minutes away, like I can hit like a bunch of different trail systems or super close. I do run on the beach sometimes like on the sand, but not that often.

Sarah: [00:00:00] There’s a ton of trails here, like ten minutes away, like I can hit like a bunch of different trail systems or super close. I do run on the beach sometimes like on the sand, but not that often. And then most of my weekends I head up the mountains and there’s mountains like, I mean, less than an hour away. So it’s got some elevation training. There’s mountains now that are covered in snow, but there’s also some lower mountains. So I can still get good climbing in and I run probably like I try to hit 50 miles a week, sometimes like 70, you know, like just depends on my training load.

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Sarah: [00:01:19] Welcome to the Smart Athlete Podcast. I’m your host, Jesse Funk, my guest today is an ultra runner formerly running in college, much like I did, so it’s interesting to see where we kind of diverge in paths post-college. She has her master’s in English. She’s the author of two different poetry collections Surviving Twenty Three, and I Like it Because It’s Pink. She’s also the author of the blog, welcome to the show, Sarah McMahon.

Sarah: [00:01:46] Hey, thanks for having me.

Jesse: [00:01:48] Sarah, thanks for joining me. Before we were officially recording, I was giving you a hard time about being in California because I’m jealous, and I had to run with this five degrees outside this morning and you’re like, Oh, it’s like sixty here. I think you’ve got a coffee. If you’re on the YouTube version, you can see like steam coming up her screen.

Sarah: [00:02:04] Probably, yes.

Jesse: [00:02:08] So it sounds like you’re having like a nice, relaxing, enjoyable, not freezing your ass off kind of kind of morning.

Sarah: [00:02:15] Definitely not freezing, for sure. No. And it’s sunny. It’s nice. It’s nice. I can’t lie. I’m in Southern California. I’m in Orange County. So right below L.A. So it’s not like as crazy hectic as L.A., but you still get the nice weather, all the good things. And I live like half a mile from the beach, so.

Jesse: [00:02:32] Is that so? Then OK with ultra training? I mean, are you? I know this kind of get split, it seems like with a different ultra runners I’ve talked to over time. Are you one of the like, I’ll say, lower mileage ultra runners? It’s like I’ll just kind of put in some miles, but then like maybe putting 40, 50 miles and then also go do a 50 miler, or is it like putting a massive miles each week? And then I head to the beach to do that. Like, you know, where where are you doing that in where you are?

Sarah: [00:03:04] Yeah, that’s a good question. There’s a ton of trails here, like ten minutes away, like I can hit like a bunch of different trail systems or super close. I do run on the beach, sometimes like on the sand, but not that often. And then most of my weekends I head up the mountains and there’s mountains like, I mean, less than an hour away. So it’s got some elevation training. There’s mountains now that are covered in snow, but there’s also some lower mountains. So I can still get good climbing in and I run probably like I try to hit 50 miles a week, sometimes like 70, you know, like just depends on my training load.

Sarah: [00:03:37] I don’t do super well, hitting like one hundred miles a week. Plus, like, I just don’t have time, like I’m working full time and doing other stuff. So, and then also I strength training like two to three times a week. So.

Jesse: [00:03:50] I think it’s always a struggle, and it seems like I was a lot of admiration for the long, long distance athletes, you know, ultra runners, 70.3, Ironman. You know, I did a little 70.3 for a few years. It’s just trying to work full time getting the hours, you know, like it’s we admire the pros, right, their are like out there crushing it. I guess I can’t speak for Ultra because I’m not deep in the community. I don’t know if there’s a ton of ultra runners that just run, but you know, the top pros in triathlon. That’s all they do versus like the amateurs who have to keep the day job and take care of their family and putting all the hours it’s. It’s a Herculean load, and especially for anybody that has, you know, spouse or partner. Kudos to them for tolerating it because it takes up a lot of time.

Sarah: [00:04:52] It does. It does. It takes a lot of time. And like, I think there’s probably some ultra runners that can do that, that can just run and train and stuff. But I think it’s pretty uncommon. It’s not like a high-revenue sport, you know what I mean?

Jesse: [00:05:05] Right. I think I’d ask before a couple of different ultra runners. You know, I’m always thinking about. Because this is running as my background triathlons, my background in sports, like how do we make it easier for pros to make a living? Is it possible? Like can we? You know, I don’t want to be crass and like, destroy the culture, but like, can we can we monetize the races any better? You know what I mean? Like, the more money you get in, the easier it is for pros to be paid or sponsorships to be interested and that kind of thing.

Sarah: [00:05:41] I think the bulk of the money probably comes from sponsorships like, you know, gear and shoes and then social media and all that kind of stuff. So, yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know. But then there’s something to it’s kind of nice about the sport not being like highly monetized and stuff highly commercialized and all that kind of stuff. So I don’t know.

Jesse: [00:05:59] That’s why I said, like, I don’t I don’t want to destroy it because but that’s always the. That’s the balance, right, I know I know triathlon went through this where it was like, like a few weeks ago, I talked to Ironman great Mark Allen, who was racing, you know, back in the 80s and 90s and was part of like kind of the birth of the sport before it blew up and became really commercialized.

Much like tuck outside of my own expertise like like Everest is now, you know, I understand Everest is kind of just like a almost like a tourist attraction. There’s like so many people on Everest that it’s not. It’s not the like. I’m sure it’s still an epic journey, but because there’s so many people, it seems more like something to do rather than this like epic test of like personal preservation, like perseverance.

Sarah: [00:06:58] Yeah, I know, and it’s also just like it’s so expensive to do Mount Everest. And like, there was that famous photo that someone took like years ago, right? Of the people like lined up to climb Mount Everest. And you’re just like, that’s like, not how everyone should be. And that’s I wouldn’t want to climb any mountain that was like they look like they were in the queue for a grocery line, like it was just the same.

Jesse: [00:07:18] Yeah, it reminded me of like when you, I don’t know if you’ve ever been horseback riding, not in this situation, but it reminds me of like when you go horseback riding and it’s one of those like, sit on the horse and they all are like, butt to nose just in a line, walking someplace like it seemed like the same thing. Like you could technically say, you’ve been horseback riding, but it’s not like, are you really?

Sarah: [00:07:45] And they’re like, walking, like, they’re not even like trotting,

Jesse: [00:07:47] Right! Right!

Sarah: [00:07:49] You’re just sitting.

Jesse: [00:07:50] That’s what I mean. We clearly on Everest, you’re using your own legs, but just like. That’s that that photo is what that reminded me of, it’s like, yeah, is that the actual experience you’re after? You know I’m just checking out.

Sarah: [00:08:04] I’ve never, never, never done Mount Everest. The highest I’ve been is like a thousand feet. You know what I mean? Yeah, it’s a whole different beast. I can’t really talk about that. Like, it’s probably still really hard, you know.

Jesse: [00:08:18] I’m sure it is.

Sarah: [00:08:18] I’m sure they can do it, but —

Jesse: [00:08:21] I know it’s like, here I am comfortable in my chair, shitting on people that are, you know, climbing Everest.

Sarah: [00:08:26] Well, I think the real people that like deserve the accolades are the guides that take Everest because like anyone, I mean, there’s a lot of rich people in America that can be like, Oh, I can pay thousands of dollars to go climb Mount Everest. But the Sherpas are like the ones that have to do it over and over again.

Jesse: [00:08:40] Yeah.

Sarah: [00:08:40] Or the experts, you know? So.

Jesse: [00:08:41] Yeah, I, gosh, that reminds me, I feel like I was talking to somebody, but maybe I just read it talking about. No, I think I just read an article. It was about one of the guides who is like he got overshadowed by like the first. I don’t know if it’s a British guy or American guy, the first person to do Everest, who is like, Oh, I’m the first man to climb Everest or whatever.

It was like no, it’s like the other guy that helped you get up there. Yeah, he ended up like doing like all the world’s, tallest summits. It’s like. In a ridiculously faster record time, it was like he did it in 10 months or something. I’m grossly misquoting this.

Sarah: [00:09:28] He’s talking about 14 peaks that.

Jesse: [00:09:30] Maybe.

Sarah: [00:09:31] That documentary, it’s on Netflix and —

Jesse: [00:09:33] I think so.

Sarah: [00:09:36] I don’t know his name, but.

Jesse: [00:09:37] Yeah.

Sarah: [00:09:38] The top the highest 14 peaks in like seven months or something.

Jesse: [00:09:41] Yeah, there’s something I read in before it was like it took years to do it. The other person.

Sarah: [00:09:46] The last person that did it, took like seven years and this guy just did it in seven months. And it’s a great documentary everyone should go watch.

Jesse: [00:09:52] Yes, I say I haven’t watched the documentary, but I feel like I read the article about him. That’s just like. That’s exactly what it made me think of is like again, are you really giving like are you? Is it the experience that you’re actually after number one and then two? Are you are you being honest with yourself because it’s the other guy that’s helping you up there like whatever, it’s the guides.

Sarah: [00:10:15] Yeah, for sure.

Jesse: [00:10:16] You know, give credits to your team. Speaking of that, do you have anybody on your team? I think you have a cat, but I don’t think you can take the cat on the trails.

Sarah: [00:10:27] I do have a cat and he’s so old and he’s so needy. He was actually just sitting next to me a few minutes ago. Do you have anyone on my team? I so I run with a group. I found a group of trail runners here in Southern California. They’re all just amazing. People like they became like my second family, like, they’re just good, awesome people. And we run.

Sarah: [00:10:50] We have a club on Wednesday nights. We all meet and we run and usually on the weekends, I’ll run with people from that group that want to do like longer stuff. And just being in the community, you know, you meet people. When I first moved to California, I trained with my friend, Alex, and he since moved to Colorado, and I think he’s moving to Utah. But so we trained like every weekend, and it’s just good to have like a training partner, you know, hold you accountable.

Sarah: [00:11:13] It’s easier to get out the door like those early, like waking up at four a.m. to go drive to the mountains. If someone’s there and can train with you until it’s like training runs can take like hours, you know, six, seven, eight hours, you know, it’s nice to have somebody there. And then I also have a strength training coach. His name is Ben Wheeler, and he does. It’s all like functional. It’s like sandbags. I use sandbags during training. So he’s been super helpful.

It just helps me keep my injuries at bay. You know, I think spring training is really important, especially for ultra runners like it’s a sport where durability matters, you know? And yeah, strength training is definitely, definitely something I would recommend to anybody. I think you froze.

Jesse: [00:11:57] Yeah, this I that’s something I’ve talked about more recently and kind of been getting back towards is hitting the gym a little bit more. You know, actually picking up some weights. And I mean, there’s a fair amount of like strength work you can do just with body weight or like instability or resistance at home.

But at least for me, I really enjoy like actually going to the gym and picking up weights and doing things with weights. I don’t know why, you know, given the running background, like I was never a power athlete by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe it’s like a small window into feeling like I could be. It’s like a fantasy I could. I could lift heavy things.

Jesse: [00:12:43] But yeah, there’s there’s definitely some something to be said about, resilience and like you think about with ultras, I think maybe average Joe goes, Oh, you just have to be able to run a long time. It’s like, Yeah, but you also have to be able to recover fast enough and not get injured. And there’s other, you know, pieces at play when you’re like, when you’re trying to do that.

Jesse: [00:13:09] Um, so I wanted to ask you a little bit. So I guess for the listener, before we get into this, well, we’re going to talk about mental health, possibly some eating disorders. So if you want to opt out of the rest of this conversation, feel free to hit, stop or pause and jettison on to the next episode.

But this is something that I think it’s important to talk about that I don’t often get the chance to talk about and Sarah’s graciously said she’s OK talking about this and kind of giving me some insights. So I want to dive into this a little bit. So I guess, are you OK sharing maybe your story and giving us a primer on kind of the experience that you lived and where you are now?

Sarah: [00:13:54] Absolutely. Yeah. I think eating disorders are important to talk about, especially in the running community, and I think they’re getting a little more attention than they maybe have in the past. But I started running when I was 12, so I started running a long time ago and twenty almost twenty nine, so. And like, I think probably it was also just like aware of my body and like shape and size from like media and like people’s comments about weight and whatever. And I just became, like, really fixated on like I didn’t want to be fat. Like I was really, like, deeply afraid as like a young girl of being fat.

Sarah: [00:14:29] And I started running. And at first it was just super fun. Like, middle school was fun. High school was fun. I got to kind of like more into like, not like anorexia yet, but like, well, maybe, maybe like just really restrictive of my food and really careful about what I would eat and when I would eat. I went through a period of like, I didn’t know what I was doing, but I like knew that carbs were bad or I thought that carbs were bad. And so I stopped eating like any carb. But it just made me like sick feeling.

Sarah: [00:14:57] And I was like, not performing very well. When I was 18 is sort of when I started making myself throw up and which we call bulimia in the in the recovery world. But my mom was diagnosed with cancer. I was like alone a lot. I was like, didn’t know how to handle my emotions, and it made me feel like I was in control of something I would like, eat a lot and then throw it up. And by that time, I’d already signed my letter of intent to go run for Bradley, which is in Illinois. And so, yeah, I just I just didn’t know how to handle myself.

Sarah: [00:15:34] And I was kind of caught between this crux of like two I should like go away to college. I have this scholarship. I didn’t grow up with much money like it was my ticket to go to college, right was a scholarship. And then but I felt guilty. I felt like I should stay home. I feel like I should be closer to my mom and all that kind of stuff. So. So that’s when I really started purging and then I went to college and Bradley had like a small team. When I first started, we were a small sort of like growing team, and now they’re really good, like they just made it to nationals a few years ago.

Sarah: [00:16:02] It’s a Division One school, but it’s really small, and my coaches at the time who are not there anymore were very much fixated on our bodies and like the whole mentality, which is sadly still around in a lot of places, it’s just like, you know, the smaller you are, the faster you’re going to be. They would tell us what to eat, what not to eat. They would make comments on our bodies. They told me to lose weight they like and like me already being in like a head space of sort of like having disordered patterns with food. It just like escalated.

Sarah: [00:16:32] So I would I would restrict. I wouldn’t eat all day. I mean, it was it was ugly and I dropped a lot of weight, really fast, got really fast. And then this is like sort of a pattern that I’ve seen play out so many times that a girl like loses a bunch of weight. She looks super skinny, but she’s running fast. So everyone’s like, Oh, this is great, good for her. But then she gets hurt. And that happened to me too. So I got really, really tiny.

Jesse: [00:16:56] Like, I know what’s coming.

Sarah: [00:16:57] Yeah, and it’s just such a predictable pattern to and I wasn’t allowing my body to, like, develop into a woman, you know, like I have like two periods like my tired until I was like, twenty five. Like it was like I just my body was just like not developing the way it should have been because I wasn’t feeding myself and I didn’t go back to like the throwing up. I wasn’t doing that all the time. I was doing that like very sporadically, but I was doing other things taking like diet pills and heavily restricting.

Sarah: [00:17:31] And it’s just like it was dark. Like, like a lot of my time in college was just like me being caught up in this like mental disorder and not really being present, you know? So, so my junior year is when I tore the my right labrum, my hip, and it was sort of maddening because I was super fast. My coaches were heavily involved and very much like, you know, concerned about my body. And when I got hurt, they one of the things they said was like, Oh, you’ve got to be careful now that you’re hurt not to gain any weight that will make it coming back so much harder. So I went and got surgery and I had those voices in my head like, Oh, don’t don’t gain any weight like while you’re injured. Which is like the opposite thing that I should have been doing, I should have been taking care of my body to enable it to recover faster.

Sarah: [00:18:15] But I just continued to starve myself and then I when I was like, you know, I was in crutches, I lost a bunch of my muscle mass because I wasn’t using my legs. And so I like got really, really tiny. I dipped below one hundred pounds and my coaches were like, You look amazing. And I was just like, This is so fucked up. I’m so —

Jesse: [00:18:34] How tall are you?

Sarah: [00:18:35] I’m 5’4.

Jesse: [00:18:37] OK.

Sarah: [00:18:38] But for reference now I am about 150 pounds and like 20 percent body fat. Yeah. So like, I’m not like, I’m pretty like muscular and I’ve always been pretty muscular. So like. And like, yeah. So like even when I was like fit and running and stuff, I still held like a good amount of muscle. And so like losing all that and getting really tiny and then them telling me, like, you look great, I was like, What’s happening? Like, like, I’m losing all of my fitness and they’re telling me I look great. And it was just it was bizarre.

Sarah: [00:19:09] So while I was recovering from my hip surgery, I just like sink deeper and deeper into this eating disorder. I got, like, super withdrawn. The only outlet I had was my writing, and so I just wrote a bunch. But the reason I sought treatment was because I was living with a boyfriend at the time and I was ordering like diet pills or some shit on Amazon. And he he saw it when he was like, What do you what are you doing like? Are you OK? And I was like, Fuck, I’m not okay, like, I’m not OK.

Sarah: [00:19:36] And I went I went to our health center on campus. I have like a three hour conversation with a therapist there who was like. Lovely, but she was like, this is out of my hands, I can’t really help you. And so then I she referred me to a hospital downtown and I went to treatment there. And I remember the thing that kind of, I guess, like my sort of rock bottom was at my initial intake at this hospital, this mental health facility that I sat down with a doctor like the nurse went through all the things, took my measurements, took my vitals. They ran some labs on just like my liver and like seeing what was working. What wasn’t my liver was sort of like in overdrive, and a lot of the enzymes were super high. And she’s like, This is really common.

Sarah: [00:20:19] And I told her I hadn’t had a period for years and I was almost proud of that like I was proud of not frustrating, which is kind of sick, but kind of common. And this doctor came in and he sat down and he like, looked and I’m like wearing like a hospital robe, right? He just like, looked at me and he’s like, He’s like, You know, I’ve seen so many people walk through these doors and he’s like, If you continue on the path that you’re on, you’re going to die. Like, you can choose to get help or you’re going to die. And I was just like, Fuck, I didn’t want to die, you know, like, I didn’t think that like me.

Sarah: [00:20:49] Like, I guess I knew that that’s where it was going to head, but I just was so deep in my eating disorder that I just was like, Well, I don’t want to die, but I also don’t really want to get better because it’s scary and you have to, like, totally change everything that you’re doing so.

Sarah: [00:21:05] So that’s when I started treatment, but it took like it took years to, like, totally overcome everything because I was like a decade into my eating disorder at the time. And like, my neural pathways were just like telling me like a certain way to live and be and that was to like, restrict and that food was bad and that carbs are bad and like all the things, you know? So I was in treatment for about five and a half years and I had a couple of different therapists.

Sarah: [00:21:30] And then the thing that really helped me was a therapist-dietician team. And so the dietician was able to kind of just like with science to dispel all of the myths that I held about food and what was good and what was bad. And the therapist, I mean, it was it was intensive. It was like a couple of times a week, the therapist every other week with a dietitian and like, the only thing that got me really over it was just time like I had to be away from the environment of competitive sports for a while and away from those coaches who were kind of just. I guess condoning my eating disorder, to put it bluntly —

Jesse: [00:22:14] Right.

Sarah: [00:22:15] I had to be away from that and like in the world of non athletes like normal people who are like happy and living their life and they weren’t concerned with when their next workout would be, and they weren’t concerned with how many calories were in the thing from the restaurant or whatever. So that was really helpful. I didn’t run for about I didn’t run it all for like about a year, and then I moved to California and I slowly, slowly started running on the trails.

Sarah: [00:22:40] When I first moved here, I lived like a mile away from this really awesome like trail system, so I would run their run on the trails and run home. But I wasn’t like structured about it. I would just run when I felt like it didn’t sign up for any races. Wasn’t sure if I even wanted to run like I was just like, I need to figure out my brain so that my body can catch up. And so. So I didn’t really start like training for Aldridge’s until I felt pretty good with my eating disorder.

Speaker1: [00:23:05] But it kind of lingered like I remember a conversation with my dietitian after my first ultra was 50 miles and I didn’t know what to do like, I didn’t know how much to eat or how often eat or how much to drink or anything like that. So my first conversation, one of my conversations with her about that was just like, What am I doing wrong? You know, like, it felt so bad. I finished. I ran an OK time, but I was just like, Oh, I feel terrible. What would help me feel better? And she was like, Well, you need to eat more. And I was like, OK, so, so ultra is actually kind of helped me get like over the last little hurdle, because there’s like such a direct correlation with like fueling enough and how you’re going to feel on like a 50 mile run, right?

Sarah: [00:23:43] Like you could under fuel and then you’re going to bonk and then it’s like a death march. But if you like, if I feel like I continue to eat and drink and do like take care of my body, I feel amazing and I feel like I could run forever. So that was pretty profound for me, too. But yeah, there’s like, no, I think the thing about mental health and mental disorders is there’s no like clear like, Oh, you’re better now.

Sarah: [00:24:06] It’s not like you break your leg and OK, the fissure is gone and now you can walk in. Ok, you’re fine now, you know, it’s like, it’s not like that. It’s like there were so many setbacks and like so many times that I was like, Am I ever going to be over this? And so many times that I like kind of relapse in a way and made myself throw up again after a year of like not doing that.

Sarah: [00:24:24] And so, yeah, like now I feel like I’m better because I don’t really think about my body. I don’t think about how it looks. I think more about what it can do. I don’t really I don’t weigh myself like, I don’t count calories like I don’t do any of the things that I used to do, and I’m stronger, faster and healthier than I’ve ever been. And I think, man, like, I wish I had had this mindset when I was in college. You know, like, I wonder what would have been different, but you can’t look back on stuff like that. So I just kind of like, take it as like a learning learning journey for me. But yeah, I like to leave out the gruesome details. It’s like a succinct, I guess, overview of the eating disorder.

Jesse: [00:25:03] Yeah, I mean, there’s a lot to dug into there for for you, the listener, if you want to get more into the science of fueling what happens when you don’t fuel properly. Go back to episode 111 with Alex Coach, former professional triathlete working on her PhD, and she does research into that specifically into relative energy deficiency syndrome, or Redd’s and her twin sister are both professional triathletes in Canada. And I think her sister went through an eating disorder, so she has some kind of personal history with that as well. So we talk about that.

Jesse: [00:25:46] But you mentioned that mentality of like being proud of like not having a period. And so both men and women can have their hormones just totally fucked up if you’re, you know, running too low on fuel. In men, it’s not as overtly obvious, I guess, like your sex drive will go in the toilet, but like if you’re not really paying attention or like you don’t have a partner, then you may just be focused on running and not, you know, have that.

Jesse: [00:26:22] As far as, like women, it’s more obvious every month there’s nothing, right? But that mentality is, I think it’s pervasive. It’s like. It’s this mentality of. And correct me, if I’m wrong, I’m making some things here of like that, Work hard, be faster. Just go, go, go. Like, I don’t know if it’s a very American thing or if it’s just sports centric, but it’s like this idea that if you just push harder, then you’ll be better. And that’s the only thing you need to do. And I don’t know how many, how many athletes I’ve talked to.

Jesse: [00:27:02] I think the women stand out in my mind in particular. Gosh, I’ve forgotten her name. Vanessa Raw. She’s a former professional triathlete, ITU for Britain, something with her coach when she was just pushing her all the time. She’s injured and can’t keep up. But there’s like this pride that goes with it, right, it’s like I’m strong enough to deal with all these things and push myself farther than anybody else can, and it’s like, it’s like a badge of honor.

Sarah: [00:27:34] It is, and it’s really bizarre, because it doesn’t correlate to better performance ever. Like, it’s not. And it’s like it’s so pervasive, though, and it kind of reminds me of David Goggins a little bit, just like, stay hard. Keep pushing. Don’t be a little bitch or whatever. And it’s just like, OK, like, but why? Like, why are you doing that? And I don’t think anyone really? I like interrogates like why they’re pushing themselves so hard, because if it’s to perform better, it’s not going to work.

Sarah: [00:28:03] And I think there’s a book I read called Roar and it’s about how women and men are different, right? Like the hormones that women experience and how we should train differently. And I think that’s something that, like I’ve only ever had, like male coaches and they only they kind of just coached the women, like they coached the men, right? Except like, sometimes our mileage would be less like they’d like men who would be running 80 miles and we’d be running like 70 or whatever like and I’m like, but like our hormones, our bodies are so different and like the coach is just probably didn’t even know that.

Sarah: [00:28:35] Like they didn’t know that we would have like fluctuations in our energy and like that we would need like more rest during certain times of the month or like whatever. Like, there was just so many things that they didn’t understand.

And I think rest is such like a kind of like a secret weapon, sometimes like. I don’t know, like a healthy runner is going to beat an injured runner any day of the week number one, but also like if I go to a race a little bit undertrained, I’m probably going to beat someone who’s overtrained because like, you know what I mean, like and sleep is so important recovery like take like I rolling out my muscles doing yoga like all of these things, keep me healthy and injury free and like. Yeah, there’s not a focus on that, I think. Maybe it’s not as glorious to be like, Oh, I slept today instead of, oh, I hammered my body and just destroyed it again, even though I wasn’t ready to, you know?

Jesse: [00:29:28] Yeah, I think part of it is like lack of research and this is another. So many people, I talked to Dr Chris Minson, who is a researcher at the University of Oregon. He’s like really working on. Trying to almost specialize in like the differences in like female physiology versus male physiology and performance and recovery and like he does like heat acclimation stuff, he’s got this at Hayward Field, he’s got a lab that does all these different kind of climate controls. He’s got like a super study lab you can use, but he talks about on the episode with him.

Jesse: [00:30:13] He talked about just like he was so interested because there’s such a giant hole of non information. There’s just enough like, there’s just nothing there. And I know there are some coaches that do pay attention. I think the first time I really remember, like a distinct philosophy being like told to me was the swim coach in my college who I went back when I do a triathlon after college and I went back to train with him.

Jesse: [00:30:47] And he said, you know. Generally speaking. The women on the team can handle more mileage, can go for longer, can do more days in a row, but the men are better like short, sharp, high power. But then they often need more recovery like they break the men break easier than the women do. Yeah, he was like, I can. I can ride the women like harder for longer. Like in the kind of endurance setting. I don’t know about his sprinters, but in that setting, like he did really push them with more workouts and they need a little less recovery versus the men, which if they did the same thing, he’s like, I’ll I’ll break him.

Jesse: [00:31:30] They just don’t, you know, hold up the same. And I don’t know if that’s universal. I don’t know if that translates to running or powerlifting or other sports. I know I talked about it with a number of different guests. But I do think it’s important to try to differentiate.

Sarah: [00:31:49] Yeah, I think that’s interesting. I think. I don’t know what the research is, but there is like it’s a pretty well-known fact that like the longer the races are like, the shorter the gap is between the men and the women, right? Especially in running. So like the longer, longer races like women can perform better, I guess the longer we go or something. But I also think that like training wise, it’s such like an individual thing like I know now because I’ve been running for so long that my sweet spot is like 60 miles a week. Like, that’s a good if I get 50, I’m happy, 60 like, good. If I go over that, like, it’s almost like too much.

Sarah: [00:32:24] And like, I can’t sustain like 70 mile weeks, week after week, you know? And I think that understanding your own body is so much like I used to just listen to my coaches like, Oh, coach, you want me to run 80 miles a week, OK? Or you want me to run a workout this morning and then lift and then run again? And what’s that going to do for me? Like, I never interrogated what they said.

And now I’ve had the option to, like, hire a running coach or like, get another running coach. And I just don’t really want one because I feel like I know my body is so well. At this point, I don’t really need the input from someone else. Maybe it would be helpful, but I don’t really think I really need it. But yeah, I think knowing your own body and knowing its limits and knowing when to push those limits and when to like, you know, back off a little bit is a really important, super important.

Jesse: [00:33:12] That’s the thing I don’t really understand about. Kind of collegiate environment and I only have lived one life and been through one collegiate program, although with two different sets of coaches, I guess. But it’s like, you know, you’re all kind of lumped together like we’re all running thousands until you do track and it’s like, OK, middle distance versus long distance or whatever like that could split out a little bit. But just talking about Cross Country season. We’re all running thousands a day. We’re all running four hundred. So we’re all going on a long run.

Jesse: [00:33:43] It’s all the same distance. You know, sometimes it’s split out like the women are doing this or the men are doing this. But yeah, it’s like this one size fits all prescription when it seems like to me. And maybe, maybe colleges are just hiring unqualified people. Sorry, sorry to my coaches, but like. And maybe it’s just it’s a time and money issue, I know like one of my coaches, we called Mr. T.. God bless him. His name’s Kevin. It’s a long story. I won’t get into why we call it Mr. T, but like my college paid him like five hundred bucks a month. It was like nothing.

Sarah: [00:34:31] Yeah.

Jesse: [00:34:31] So, you know, time and money issue there. But just. You should be able to break people out where it’s like I could tolerate a little bit more mileage than some of the other guys, well, like when we did for hundreds, even though I was usually one of the fastest on the team for doing short, fast stuff, I’m in the back. I mean, it’s a very clear delineation to like that’s my weakness, that’s the strength I feel like you should be able to tailor like kind of mini pods, so to speak. Like figuring out where people’s strengths and weaknesses are and break them out a little more instead of just being like, We’re all doing the same thing. I just don’t. I don’t understand why that happens.

Sarah: [00:35:15] I feel like there’s it’s probably a time and money issue. And I think I mean, the entire world of Division One athletics was like when I was in high school, it seemed like such a shiny, awesome, cool thing. And it was awesome and cool because it paid for my school. And I’m so grateful and I love Bradley to this day. But I mean, we were like, there were so many of us. We were kind of just numbers, you know? And like, what the coaches cared about was like winning conference or whatever, and then getting to regionals, getting to nationals.

Sarah: [00:35:45] They didn’t care that much like who the top seven were. They just cared that the top seven could run fast, you know what I mean? And like, we were kind of just like numbers and they kind of just threw the program at us. If you can handle it right, if you can’t whatever like —

Jesse: [00:35:59] Yeah

Sarah: [00:36:00] There’s someone next like behind you that’s going to fill your spots. So like they cared less about the athlete as a person than about like. The overall performance of the program, because that’s how they got paid more, you know what I mean, and it is definitely like a little bit of a college athletes are just number, and they’ll tell you whatever. I think that’s another thing when they recruited me. Oh, we’re so excited to have you. We’re going to take care of you. We’re going to do this for you and do that for you.

Sarah: [00:36:26] And like, they’re saying that because they wanted me to come run for them because I was fast. You know what I mean? Like, they weren’t like, really didn’t really probably care that much about me. So that kind of I had to kind of learn that once I was there and I was a little bit disillusioned, I was like, OK, so this is this is how this is.

And I mean, take that across any sport. I mean, there’s like college basketball players and football players who I think just recently they could like, take sponsorship money and stuff like they couldn’t even take money for their names being like on jerseys and in the bookstore and like whatever like, they’re making a lot of money for these universities, and the university doesn’t really care, but they just care about the money these student athletes are generating.

Sarah: [00:37:05] And it’s like, it’s like being in that environment, I’m sure, you know, I mean, it’s just you can see it. So it’s so obvious. And and then the argument that, oh, we’re giving you free school is like a form of payment. You’re like, OK, yeah, it’s not really paying me. And it’s also, I mean, I mean, I don’t know where you went. Where’d you go to school?

Jesse: [00:37:24] I went to William Jewell. It’s very small, liberal arts school here in the Midwest. So —

Sarah: [00:37:27] OK.

Jesse: [00:37:29] So like a thousand people, there’s not it’s not a very big.

Sarah: [00:37:31] That’s tiny.

Jesse: [00:37:33] Yes, smaller than my high school.

Sarah: [00:37:35] My high school was like I graduated with 60 people. My dad was like twelve hundred people with —

Speaker2: [00:37:40] 1600 students in my high school, so.

Sarah: [00:37:43] Oh wow!

Jesse: [00:37:44] I went down.

Sarah: [00:37:46] Well, Bradley was like Division One School, but like six thousand students ish and and I thought it was huge. But it’s not big at all, you know? But yeah, but anyway, my point was that like Bradley was like 40 grand a year and I was like an insane amount of money. Yeah, college. But I mean, to say that that’s like the same thing is paying you, you’re like, Well, no, it’s not because you’re not paying me 40 grand. You’re paying for this outrageously overpriced school. You know, maybe like, yeah, it shouldn’t be that much. Why is it so much? Oh my God. Yeah, but anyway, anyway. What were you talking about, I forgot.

Jesse: [00:38:24] We’re far down the rabbit hole but —

Sarah: [00:38:26] We went down a rabbit hole there. Oh, I was talking about the exploitation of student athletes. Yeah, yeah. Ok, that’s done. What else? Yeah.

Jesse: [00:38:35] Well, that’s a whole other can be a whole episode. But we’re actually, you know, I know you’ve got another meeting coming up, so I don’t want to hold you over too long, so I have a question. Each season, the show, I come up with a question that I ask every single person that year. So since we’re running low on time, I’m going to ask you that question. And this year’s question is, how do you celebrate your wins?

Sarah: [00:39:02] How do I celebrate my wins? I know you didn’t mean to stump me, but you stumped me a bit.

Jesse: [00:39:12] That’s good. And the reason the reason I’m asking this is because I don’t think people do it enough. So —

Sarah: [00:39:16] No, we don’t we don’t at all. I like, Oh my god, I don’t really. Sometimes I mean, how do I celebrate my wins? I don’t really know. I ran. Ok, so like, for instance, a couple of weeks ago, I ran a 50 miler and I ran pretty fast around eight and a half hours. And I was super happy with that. But as I celebrate it? Not really. I just rested and now I’m back and I’m back to training again. I don’t really celebrate my wins. That’s an interesting thing. I’m have to think about that. I’m going to have to figure out a way for me to celebrate my wins more. Yeah.

Jesse: [00:39:45] It’s definitely like an entrepreneur friend of mine. She suggested that question for me for this year because she’s bad at it. I’m bad at it. And my wife is like, Yeah, how do you celebrate your wins of like? Well, I’m hoping to get some lessons this year so that I could get a little bit better at it. But that’s I mean, that’s kind of the point of the question, right? Because like, I think we focused so much on, we did it all to the next thing like to take that moment.

Jesse: [00:40:17] And even if it’s just like in the very, the very season 1 question was if you could only choose one recovery food for the rest of your life, what do you choose? And a lot of people chose like junk food because it was like, that was the way they celebrated. You know, before we got recording, I mentioned my friend Todd, who’s had a couple of episodes, episode three and like, thirty two or something, he he gets a cinnamon roll after every race win, lose or draw, he gets the cinnamon roll. And that’s the way he celebrates. I think. We should all maybe focus a little bit more on just like something a small treat, something for all the work we put in.

Jesse: [00:40:51] So. Sarah, if people want to check out the blog, grab the grab your poetry, you know, get in touch with you, any of that kind of stuff, where can they do that?

Sarah: [00:41:04] Yeah. So my blog is The Prosiest I post twice a week and I have for the last, like three years, so there’s a lot on there. I’ve written ad nauseum about my eating disorder and also some other stuff. So, yeah, definitely check that out. You can find me on Instagram at @MCMountain is my handle. I was hacked a couple of weeks ago, but I got my account back, my poetry books. You can find those on my website or also on Amazon. The latest one is called “I Like It Cuz It’s Pink”.

Jesse: [00:41:34] Awesome. Sarah, thanks for joining me today.

Jesse: [00:41:37] Thank you, Jesse, it’s so good to talk to you.

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