The Medal MATTERS.
As I sit here, I am wearing a big heavy race medal from last weekend’s marathon. Just sitting in my kitchen typing with a heavy-ass piece of hardware around my neck. I keep all my marathon and half-marathon medals, actually (though I know not everyone does) - I like to hold them, feel their weight, and be reminded of the hard thing I did.

What I’m saying is this: getting a medal matters . It is a universally-recognized symbol of “I Did The Thing” and sometimes when I am down I need to be reminded that I did indeed do the thing,

MK and I are pissed this week. We are pissed that an estimated 300 people at the Berlin Marathon last weekend did not receive medals even though they had been assured they would. We are pissed that three running influencers that we know of (and we know there must be more) were invited to participate in the marathon, and that when they expressed concern ( because they had been burned before ) about the 6-hour time limit they were assured that they would be allowed to finish the race unofficially and receive medals when they reached the iconic finish line at the Brandenburg Gate. We are pissed that all of that turned out to be a lie .

We, MK and I, have been privileged enough throughout our years as runners never to have to wonder whether we will receive a medal upon finishing a marathon. It makes us sad and angry to learn how many runners do not enjoy this same privilege, even though they do the same work we do. Actually, they work even harder.

I talked on the Morning Mantra podcast this week about my hair , and the way I have something I refer to as “hair privilege” even though yes, I have been through a journey with my hair over the course of my life. My hair doesn’t behave the way straight hair does, which means that for years I went to have it cut at straight-hair salons that would cut it so it looked good as long as I straightened it. If I let it be its natural curly/wavy/frizzy self, it always looked off, unshapely, awkward, so I spent years battling it at every turn and damaging it considerably via constant exposure to the blowdryer and straightening iron (not that it worked terribly well). And even though I fretted over my hair, I had no idea how good I actually had it. Even on its worst days, my hair still met a basic expectation of neutral unassuming smoothness. I would never have been singled out for my hair or discriminated against because of my hair. White women rarely are. Women of color, quite often, are not so lucky . A 2017 study provided tangible proof of bias against women with textured ha ir (code word “messy”): women of color “experience more anxiety surrounding hair issues than their white female counterparts, and often feel more pressure to straighten their hair for work,” the study showed, and furthermore, they spend hundreds of dollars more per year on products and treatments than white women in order to allay this anxiety.

I cared about how my hair looked for the purposes of fitting in socially, but I have never in my life had to worry that my hair would stand in the way of my getting a job (this kind of hair-based discrimination, by the way, is illegal in only one state). That is privilege. My anxiety surrounding my hair is no less real because of my privilege, but it tells me that what I have experienced is only the tip of the iceberg.

We have discussed the different kinds of privilege we enjoy on the Fitness Protection podcast , most recently thin privilege . I am not “thin” - my BMI actually says I’m overweight! - but I do absolutely have thin privilege; this is the privilege to be able to walk into any store knowing that it will stock sizes that fit you, the privilege to board any airplane knowing that you will fit in the seat, the privilege to eat at any restaurant knowing that any available table will have a seat that accommodates you. I say “knowing” but real privilege is the not knowing, the not thinking, the not wondering or worrying or even noticing (like my frizzy but socially-acceptable head of hair that still got to skate through the world without depriving me of opportunities). The privilege I have when I stand at the start line of a marathon is similar. I get to start marathons knowing that the finish line will be there when I arrive; knowing that the water stations will remain open for me, knowing that I will receive an official time, knowing that I will receive a medal. And again, the privilege is not the knowing, it’s the never even having to wonder.

I want to open the eyes of every race director who ever was and say HEY, the slowest finishers in your race are the ones doing the hardest work - PUT THEM FRONT AND CENTER . I may currently be privileged enough not to worry about the finish line vanishing out from under me, but I was not always (and I know all too well how easily that privilege could vanish, too). The first time I ran a timed mile, in 8th-grade gym class, I had stress dreams for days, imagining myself having to walk and finishing last (I did, and I did). It was as bad as I'd feared; the physical stress of the mile and my humiliation at my inability to just do the thing like every other kid in my class could.

That shame never left me. It made showing up at the start of my first 5k, many years later, and every subsequent race I ran the hardest and scariest thing I had yet done. Every start line was another change to PROVE to the world that I deserved to be there, to show those kids in my 8th-grade gym class that hey, I had repented for my unfitness and here I was. Would they have been impressed? I doubted it. And yet I gave every race to them and their judgment. In retrospect, I was a badass for running those races. I deserved to be there inherently. I wanted to be there badly enough that I'd told all the judgey voices in my head fo fuck off, and that was no small thing . It never was.

Participating in public displays of physical ability when you know you are going to be in last place or close to it is the hardest and least celebrated work there is. Participating even when you know you may be dismissed or treated poorly or not even allowed to finish is hard, hard work, and I absolutely hate with every bone in my body that road races do not understand this. The people who finish last are the ones who deserve to be celebrated most, because it took more for them to show up in the first place than for anyone else there. They deserve that goddamn medal and they deserve it more than I do. The medal matters.

We at Fitness Protection want to do more for the athletes who always, always get less. We are working on it. We are privileged as runners - we have thin privilege and we have finish-line privilege - and we know that our privilege gives us power and visibility, and we are going to fucking use it. We are here for you and we always will be, and we SEE the work you are doing. Stay tethered to us, because there is more coming. #coachedandloved

You are coached, you are loved, and you are winning at life.

Coach Sarah
PS: If you are interested in how the athletes we train in the Fitness Protection Program ramp up to marathon-ready, visit our website to learn about our plans! (yes, we encourage doing EVERY STRENGTH CIRCUIT.)

Marathon training plans are available FOR FREE to our paid subscribers, and we provide all the guidance you need to use them wisely! Learn more in this week's Running Life podcast!

PPS: If you enjoy the content I am creating over here, PLEASE forward this email to your friends and encourage them to sign up! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your support as I start this totally new, totally unexpected, career change!
Weekly Podcast Roundup
We are SO PROUD to feature our Maintain athletes this week on the Running Life podcast! Listen along as we talk about the many facets of fitting consistent running into our busy lives and how our people are using our programs to do what THEY want as runners, not what they think they should want.

Amy Trujillo schooled us on fatphobia and diet culture once more, this time discussing the media fixation on Jessica Simpson as a living and lifelong weight advertisement. She deserves better, as do we ALL.

AND, if you want to hear more about Coach Sarah's most recent marathon (not to mention her stay in the much-anticipated New Hampshire yurt, tune in for the latest episode of #AskAway: YURT O'CLOCK!

Meanwhile, this week's Morning Mantra was full of FIRE. Coach Sarah began the week with a reflection on the years she spent wishing she cared less about her hair before finally embracing the notion that indeed, hair is everything (her mother would agree).

Coach MK got ANGRY when her husband Alex was told that his weight made him too unfit to be a rugby referee. This week she delivered not one but TWO forceful and rage-inducing mantras ( 10/2, Don't Shit Where The Cows Eat followed by 10/3, FRONT AND CENTER). Both mantras are addressed to the people in rugby and in running (looking at you, Berlin Marathon) who discount the work, dedication and enthusiasm of the fat athletes without whom their sports would not be what they are today. If you haven't had a chance to catch up with the Morning Mantra lately, this is a good week to bring yourself up to speed!

Finally, Coach Sarah brings it home with THIS IS MINE, a mantra for athletes lining up to run a big race in the coming weeks. Do NOT let Steve take this away from you - Steve does not deserve your race.

If listening to podcasts isn't your thing, don't worry - transcripts and notes live on the blog!
Do you like eating spaghetti and downloading things? ROS DOES!

It's FINALLY HERE!! The Maintain PDF is available for your downloading pleasure - check it out as you listen to the podcast!

Click HERE for the EAT Explanation sheets ( and here for the EAT podcast).

Click HERE for the EAT execution sheet.

Click HERE for Coach Sarah's recipes for running success.

IF YOU ARE A RUNNER NOT CURRENTLY RUNNING for ANY reason, please join the Runner, Interrupted Beta, which launched this week! Stay tethered to the running community while you maintain that space in your day and that real estate on your calendar for when you come back. It sucks to be a Runner, Interrupted, but we're going to have fun ANYWAY! (Spoiler Alert, there will be MORE THINGS TO DOWNLOAD!)

If you are RETURNING to running after a long period of interruption, you might be interested in giving our ReBuild program a try!

Click HERE for the ReBuild Puzzle Document that accompanies the ReBuild Episode of the Running Life Podcast (air date 9/7/19).

BE LIKE ROS and follow Coach Sarah EVERYWHERE!

If you have ever run a race and been denied a medal and/or a shirt in your size, e-mail us and tell us about it . We are on a mission to make it right, because you deserve to be front and center.

#WINNINGATLIFE of the week!
Amanda Williams is #winningatlife!!! Amanda is a mom of two and an athletic trainer, and she is getting ready to run the Twin Cities Marathon this weekend! Amanda has worked HARD for two years to get ready for this race. She has done the work every day. She has beaten back plantar fasciitis with consistent and tenacious rehab, and she has returned to running with care and enthusiasm and grit. Amanda owns her training, her accomplishments, and her badassery, and because of that she will make any race she shows up at a BETTER PLACE. We could not be more proud of her - no one deserves celebration more than she does. WE ARE WITH YOU, AMANDA. THIS IS YOURS.
To be featured here as well as our Facebook and Instagram pages, use the tags #coachedandloved or #fitnessprotectionllc when you post photos on Instagram, telling the world what Fitness Protection means to you!
And Liz Kinsella is #winningatlife because she is doing the hardest work of all right now: the work of the runner not running. Liz is a single mom of three and manages an enterprise digital analytics team, and life is not currently making it possible for her to do this running thing she wants to do. We love Liz because of her gorgeous heart and her unrelenting tenacity. She went all the way to New Hampshire last weekend to support her friends running a race even though she knew she would not be able to participate herself. She knows the value of staying tethered to the running community and she has not given up on herself, even though non-running, non-optional parts of life are consuming most of her time. She does not feel like she is winning at life, but by being with us even though she can’t run, she absolutely is. We love you Liz - we got you and you got this.