Recently Read: On Running as a Woman and Olympic Rundown

The good: Jenny Simpson brought home the bronze in the 1500, the first American woman to do so. I don’t know Jenny but really admire her work ethic and her sportsmanship year after year.

The hard but good: A really important piece by Allison Schmitt on depression and the athlete. Although I’m sure the Olympic arena is an even more potent setup for depression and anxiety, it’s an ever-present issue at all levels of competition. Even at our own training camp last week, athletes offered stories about the depression, anxiety and stress that they had either experienced in the past or were currently experiencing. I spend a lot of time talking to people while coaching or doctoring and am acutely aware of how prevalent these issues are but it’s always amazing to hear my girls say things like “I didn’t know anyone else felt this way!”

Not sure I’m crazy about this: There seems to be a current obsession with eating clean, which in my not so humble opinion is just a synonym for disordered eating. One of my favorite blogging runners who I always admired for eating real food and having a normal body while running fast has recently fallen into this trap, shilling her “new style of clean eating” while posting pictures of her shrinking frame and lamenting her recent poor performances. This article seems to perpetuate a similar theme.  I think it makes total sense to make the bulk of your diet based on real foods (grains, fruits, veggies, proteins) but to do a juice fast or “meticulously” plan food just heads down a rabbit hole.

Finally, another important piece that I’ve thought about and talked about with female running friends recently in the light of another set of attacks that have left many of us (or at least, our mothers) on edge. I run alone almost all the time and often very early in the morning. When the attack in Massachusetts occurred, my sister sent me a text imploring me to be careful and I’ll admit, I pushed my morning run to the afternoon the next day because I was a little spooked by the whole scenario. The following morning, however, my alarm went off at 4:30 and off into the darkness I went, a move that was in some part a protest against the idea that I am inherently vulnerable by virtue of being female and a runner.

2 thoughts on “Recently Read: On Running as a Woman and Olympic Rundown

  1. creakyjointsrunning

    great links. I only wish the ESPN piece also discussed treatment. Do you think antidepressants / anxiety meds are a bridge too far for high profile athletes? meaning that they do not take them? or is it more likely that they do not want to talk publicly about medications?

    There’s so much said about running and exercise as nature’s Prozac. It’s one reason why I ran, and continue to run. But when it’s not enough… and you’re still “not right”… the meds REALLY help. i think it’s dangerous to say that antidepressants don’t work, or that eating right, exercising, and talk therapy is enough.

    And when it’s not enough? What then? People shouldn’t have to suffer. not high achievers, not exceptional athletes. No one. I only wish I had been willing to try an antidepressant much, much sooner. I’m in my mid-thirties and I have a new lease on life. I had NO IDEA.

    1. Runner Under Pressure Post author

      Thanks for your wonderful comment and openness about the realities of depression and anxiety. I’m so glad you’ve found a new lease on life! I am SURE that I am biased as I am trained in the allopathic tradition but I see the benefits of antidepressant medication all the time. Is it a panacea for depression? No, of course not. The causes of depression are not merely chemical but an interplay of chemical, environmental etc which means it takes a multi-faceted approach to help but I totally agree that antidepressants are a huge part of treatment for many people. As for the high profile athletes, I’m not sure if it’s that they don’t take them or that they just don’t want to discuss them. Medications and the elite athlete is a bit of a third rail right now because of the doping issues so it may be that there is a consensus that one should just avoid talking about any medications.


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