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A Rocky Road

Leslie at Georgia

Leslie at Georgia

I wish I could start off by saying that my transition from college track to Olympic Development training has been smooth and easy… but that would be a boldfaced lie. I can honestly say that my first 7 months in Austin have had more failures than successes, more struggles than victories, and more hardships than cheer. But then again, which Olympic athlete has ever made it to the finish line, looked back and said, “Wow, that was easy!” Very few, if any.

All that being said, I truly cherish the opportunity to be a member of the Rogue AC team, and I value each and every relationship I have made. I have learned, in a very humbling way, what it truly takes to become an elite athlete and how the definition of ‘elite’ has changed over time. I have recognized the magnitude of mental toughness and inner confidence that athletes must own in order to make it to the next level. I have realized that self-discipline, personal sacrifice, and consistency are vital, and that stepping out of your comfort zone to reach places you’ve never been is a must. I have identified that a successful athlete will listen to their body, not their pride, and they will understand how to work smarter, not necessarily harder. Lastly, I have observed the unspoken trust that champions possess in their coach and teammates, and the ongoing communication kept between the group. Needless to say, becoming an Olympic-caliber athlete is no simple task.

Although I have yet to attain my performance goals and still have a long way to go, the insight that I’ve gained from being a part of such an elite group has really opened my eyes to where I need to go from here. You know what they say… “You must reach the bottom to make it to the top.” And luckily, I now understand the attributes I must improve on to only go up from here.

by Leslie Boozer

And Sometimes You Don’t Want to Run Indoor

A lot has transpired since I joined Rogue AC – JT gracefully made his way back into the racing scene, Carl’s hair reached/possibly surpassed Steve’s hair length, Sarah finally got to go to altitude to train, I think I avoided several broken ankles through physical therapy with SPI, and many people had very incredible performances. Alli got her Olympic marathon qualifier and Kristen’s ran an impressive USA Indoor nationals 2 mile, just to name a couple.

In an effort to avoid too dull of a blog, I’ll try and err on the side of brevity. For anyone who does not know me, cross country is not particularly “my thing”. I have an abundance of respect for the athletes who thrive in the hills, mud, and grass I just prefer a flatter more predictable route. But, since leaving college I’ve really worked on embracing cross country a bit more (which is easier to do when you only have to commit yourself to 2 races for the year). So I strapped on my adidas spikes in December and I was fortunate enough to have them run my feet all the way to Scotland (people should really invest in a pair of adizero spikes, they’re exceptionally good at turning people international) and that was pretty neat. I’d never been outside the continental US so needless to say it was a pretty incredible experience, despite being someone who is not necessarily pro-elements (wind, ice, rain, hills, creeks running through the course, etc.). 

Such an amazing opportunity did come at a bit of a price: extending my cross season well beyond what it normally is. I love running, I really do, but sometimes I’m tired. Sometimes I just want to take a break, and sometimes I don’t want to run indoor and I kind of think that’s ok. My dad once told me to choose my battles, which is an incredibly difficult piece of advice to follow for me in particular (I’m sure Mark Feigen could easily validate that for you). But I realized that I want to be able to show the hard work Steve, Ruth, Anthony, and SPI put into me, through my performances. I’d also really like to be able to give a nice big thank you to Adidas, and my parents of course, for their support via some low numbers on the track, that’s why I decided to skip over indoors and focus on outdoors. 

So that’s kind of what I’ve been doing the past couple of months – not running indoor. I decided it was a good time to get some solid training in, and Steve saw it as a prime opportunity to have me run some of my least favorite workouts and that’s where I am now, running workouts and excited for outdoor.

Mental Preparation

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It’s been a minute since I have given an update on how awesome life here in Austin is. I will go ahead and say that I am living the dream, baby! High-fives are greatly accepted. I am continuing to pursue my medical profession by working with the great Dr. Ted Spears along with the wonderful physical therapists at Sports Performance International. I have learned a surmountable amount of information on patient care, and the ever-enjoyable phone calls with insurance companies.

Tying into my medical career, I continue to train full-time with Rogue Athletic Club, and training has never been better since the move to Austin, Texas. Last year was a constant struggle with the early morning routines of hard workouts, lack of coffee, and mediocre race results; not to mention my season ending injury in May. Subsequent to our winter break, my training has turned completely around. This didn’t happen by what Steve calls “magic.” I credit the accountability of my training partners JT, Buss, Devin, Gowell, and Hick, mostly. Sure I have become a lot more disciplined by going into the weight room, doing speed development, drills, strides, nutrition, you name it, on my own accord, but it was because of my training partners that I developed the discipline. The group’s moral and comradery has never been better. It feels like family.

As aforementioned, training is going quite well. However, I do still have an occasional sub-par workout performance. I’d like to address the importance of keeping one’s composure of a perceptible “unacceptable” workout or race performance. Pheobe Wright’s article addressing this issue was spot on, and I wanted to articulate how I deal with “a bad day at the office.”

First off, realizing that you aren’t the exclusive athlete dealing with post-race or post-workout depression is a crucial step to getting over the issue. The sooner you get over it, the better. Why linger on something that isn’t a definitive test of your fitness? There are only two races to be ready for –the 2015 USA Championships and the 2016 Olympic Trials.   We all have an occasional mediocre, or just a piss-poor, race or workout. One thing I have come to realize is that one event does not define you as an athlete, or a person. It is how you subsequently assess the situation and what you do to prepare for the next race or workout, and how quickly you put it behind you. The mental struggle usually begins even before the gun goes off or before your coach says, “go” on your first interval. Mental preparedness is THE most important step to having a good session or race, but all athletes are head cases, and we occasionally fall short to mentally prepare, or just have negative thoughts. Yes, it’s going to hurt, A LOT, but that is the unwritten contract that every distance runner signs.

Steve reminds me to look at all the positives in my current training block. One negative experience does not make the holistic training block negative. There are unarguably more positives then there are negatives when comparing to a single workout or race. Again, it DOES NOT DEFINE YOU! Not only listening to your philosophical coach is valuable, but also being vulnerable to suggestion from your training partners is essential to one’s success to getting over the workout or race. Grab a beer, joke about how terrible it went, and have some more beer. Any IPA will do.

Accept that there are going to be obstacles thrown into your training. Reach out to the community around you, and most of all…continue to have fun with what you are doing. Til next time my friends.

 

Disclaimer: I am not a clinical psychologist.

Matt Cleaver is a member of Rogue Athletic Club, where he steeples, runs, eats, sleeps, prepares, repeats daily.   Sponsored by adidas and Rogue Running.

My 110 Hour Trip to Brussels, Belgium and Back

by Kristen Findley

I told myself a million times it was going to be ok if I didn’t get all my miles in, if I consumed above average amounts of chocolate, waffles, and beer, and if my sleep fell short of the normal 7.5-8 hours. I wasn’t going to Belgium to train; I was going to spend a few days with my mom at an international conference for a club that she is heavily involved in. Despite my excitement for 1) hanging out with Mama Fin and 2) visiting my 32nd country, I felt anxious as I boarded the plane about temporarily deviating from the typical runner life-style.

I had little idea of what to expect, but what I did know had me intrigued. I knew that the club was called FAWCO (Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas), that my mom was treasurer on the board, that the conferences took place annually in a different country each year, and that my mom always returned from the conferences raving about how inspired and empowered she felt. What could possibly come of a weekend spent with 100 middle aged women and me in Brussels, Belgium!?

 Kristen 1

Mama Fin and me throwing back some Belgian suds

The conference was comprised of a series of meetings regarding the happenings of 2013, the agenda for 2014, motivational speakers, fundraising events, and workshops. Although my mom had explained to me what FAWCO was all about on several occasions, it took being there and experiencing it to really get a feel for it. FAWCO is a 2 fold organization comprised of representatives from 33 different countries. First, they work to resolve issues pertaining to citizenship and voting rights issues for Americans living abroad. Second, they are a not-for-profit NGO with consultive status to the United Nations that works to alleviate global issues such as human rights violations.

Every year, each of the clubs that belongs to FAWCO partakes in their own philanthropic projects unique to their area’s specific needs, in addition to an overarching target project addressed by FAWCO as a whole. Last year, the target project was to dig wells in Cambodia so that the local population had access to clean water. This year, the target project is to help transition women who have been subjected to sex trafficking into a self-sufficient livelihood.

I was extremely moved to see so many passionate women willing to give their time and money, and be so proactive and creative in working towards what they believed in. I understood entirely the feelings my mom had tried to convey in years past and it was amazing for us to experience it together. The trip made me realize how easy it is to get all wrapped up in your own world and forget about the less fortunate out there. Putting it all into perspective, missing a few days of running WASN’T the worst thing in the world.

Lastly, I wanted to note another parallel experience I had while there: parent-child role reversal. No, I wasn’t telling my mom that maybe her skirt was just a little too short, telling her that filet mignon isn’t pronounced how it looks (fil-LET MIG-none), or explaining which wine goes with which type of meat. I was there supporting her in her passion and seeing her with her friends in her element. Parents come to our graduations and our track meets, but it is all the more rare that we attend their functions. I proudly watched my mom gracefully deliver a speech to a roomful of people, dress up in full-costume for the themed live auction, and be a general embodiment of class and fun over the course of the weekend.

I am so glad to have shared that experience with my mama (in addition to mussels, waffles, chocolate, a couple pints of beer, and many a good laugh).

Oh— and I DID manage to run every day I was there 🙂

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Me (left) and my ‘buddy’ (right). I was assigned as a first-time conference attendee at the around the world themed live auction.

 

P.S. Please, please check out the link below to learn about this year’s target project!!!! You can donate used bras to the Free the Girls Organization so that former victims of sex-trafficking can re-sell them.

 

freethegirls.org