Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

The Running for Real Podcast

Sep 22, 2017

"At the end of the day, nothing beats running. There is nothing that a nice run can't make a little bit better"- Christie Aschwanden.

There is no doubt that todays guest is passionate about being a runner. Writing for some of the biggest publications in the US, she gets to dive deep into controversial topics that others are too afraid to cover.

We talk about gender issues, including the story of Caster Semenya, who has been targeted by IAAF for her testosterone levels. Christie will make you rethink the way you are looking at the gender issue in sport, and bring to light some important points that you may not have noticed before.

We go into the doping scandals, just how bad it is, and what we can do to prevent it as we know as soon as the test is created, the dopers are already one step ahead finding a way to cheat the system.

This is casting doubt on all records in recent years, including the famous women's marathon record by Paula Radcliffe, as there is no way to prove you are clean, we need to find another solution. Christie shares a story of a former teammate who was caught doping, and how sharing his story of how he was dirty, even while he still denied it, was one of the hardest things she had to do.

We talk about predatory coaches abusing high school athletes, and what to look out for if you suspect something might not be right.

And we talk about the relief and comfort running brings when you are struggling with problems or the loss of a loved one. Running helps us to deal with our problems, and Christie loves running more than most.

This episode is for you if you are interested in the discussion of topics that are controversial, but very real within our sport. if you are passionate about athletics, you will have heard of these issues, and in this episode, we dive deep into what exactly is happening.

Today's Guest

Christie Aschwanden

Christie Aschwanden is the lead writer for science at FiveThirtyEight and a health columnist for The Washington Post. She’s also a frequent contributor to The New York Times, and a contributing editor for Runner’s World. Christie is not afraid to write (or talk) about the difficult topics, which has won her countless journalism awards.

What You Will Learn About

  • Why preparing and writing a big article is very similar to preparing for a race
  • Caster Semenya and other athletes who are considered controversial due to high testosterone or other factors, how does gender play a part in running
  • Doping in our sport and how the dopers are one step ahead of anti doping officials as they are better funded.
  • How running helps us deal with problems, especially with the loss of a loved one
  • Abuse from high school coaches to their athletes (and why its more common than we realize). What we can do to look out for this potentially happening with children you know.


Christie's #R4RPowerPose

My power pose is hula hooping. The photo is from a dinner party, but I also keep a hula hoop around as a good thing to do as a break from writing.

Inspirational Quotes

I could not be a writer without running. Its where I get my best ideas, its where I get my best leads.

It always feels so rewarding, you are creating something from nothing. Even journalism is a very nice creative process, you are taking pieces and creating something new that didn't exist before.

Someone like Caster (Semenya) who has female anatomy, is raised as a female, lived her entire life as a female, what we are really doing when we have women sport is breaking it down by gender, and gender is different to sex.

Gender is an identity, and it just seems fundamentally unfair to have someone who is born, raised, and had an identity her entire life as a certain gender, and to say no, thats not what you are, we are not going to allow you to compete with other people of that identity.

There are other traits we celebrate, and its really putting limits and breaks on what limits sports can be, saying that certain traits or certain aspects of athleticism are male and others are female. I don't think its an accident that these women who are being targeted are more masculine appearances.

As soon as you have a test, then the race is on for the dopers to get around it.

The solution to doping is to change the culture where it is just not acceptable to dope…for a very long time, we had this win at all costs mentality and when you have people (coaches and trainers) who are promoting this stuff, you can't have that.

You cannot prove you are clean, that is scientifically impossible.

That is one of the saddest things about doping to me, is that is cast out on every wonderful performance and that really takes something away.

At the end of the day, nothing beats running. There is nothing that a nice run can't make a little bit better.

I would go out and run as hard as I could, just breathe really hard. I wanted to feel the burn in my muscles as it was just a way of making this nebulous emotional pain, turning it into something that felt more tangible and expressing that.

Someone I had trusted had betrayed that trust, and I was still quite young, it pulled the rug from under me and made me question a lot of things.

Resources Mentioned