Tawnee Gibson: Female Eating And Stress Dangers, Adopting Healthy Mindsets, Avoiding Tech Obsession, And The Kona Underpants Run 

I welcome Tawnee Gibson, longtime host of the Endurance Planet podcast, to the show for an honest, open conversation that takes us on a timeline through her own experiences as an athlete, her struggles, and what she has learned from health journey.

Some of Tawnee’s revelations will be particularly relevant to female athletes, and some others—such as not feeling ready to correct course even when you know better—will be relevant to all. Tawnee also talks about what actually happens to your body as a result of having an overly stressful lifestyle, the importance of evaluating your attitude and your disposition and how it relates to stress, the pros and cons of the massive influx of technology in the endurance experience and the importance of using your intuition to navigate this new technology, why she and her husband decided to leave her home state of California to settle in a rural area in Idaho, and more!


Tawnee talks about all the particular aspects of being a female endurance athlete. [00:32]

Tawnee grew up in southern California and resettled in rural Idaho living an extremely different life. [04:03]

Brad and Tawnee talk about how they now realize the stress they were putting on their bodies as they reflect back to their competitive days as triathletes. [06:28]

Fighting an eating disorder and amenorrhea were part of her beginning as triathlete. [10:24]

Listeners need to hear the experiences of these two former triathletes and think about what you goal is and how to avoid the roadblocks that are there in your way. [23:46]

REDS is relative energy deficit in sport. Stress of all kinds can get you there as well. [27:20]

You need the discipline to know when you need to rest and sit back when you are at an exciting place. [34:18]

As you realize your performance is changing, accept where you are, be grateful for what your body can do.  [43:50]

How do today’s training methods and technologies differ to make today’s athletes bring in better times? [53:49]

People over complicate things that are rather simple. [01:03:07]

What is the Underpants Run that occurs during the Kailua Kona Iron Man Week? [01:06:31]


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Brad (00:00:00):
Welcome to the Return of the Primal Endurance Podcast. This is your host, Brad Kearns, and we are going on a journey to a kinder, gentler, smarter, more fun, more effective way to train for ambitious endurance goals. Visit PrimalEndurance.fit to join the community and enroll in our free video course.

Tawnee (00:00:25):
What I worry about most in this space is the unhealthy relationship slash addiction with technology

Brad (00:00:32):
Hey listeners, please welcome Tawnee Prazak Gibson, the one and only host, longtime host of the Endurance Planet podcast. Uh, she is an old timer in the endurance scene, and so we’re gonna have a conversation that kind of takes us on a timeline through her own experience as an athlete, her struggles that she’s very open and honest and vulnerable about, her long career coaching other athletes, some of the stuff that’s worked, some of the things that, um, we have to watch out for in this type A community of hard driving athletes. And so she’s gonna get right into and talk about things of particular concern for female athletes. She’s gonna talk about her battle with an eating disorder that lasted for 10 years, and now she wasn’t ready to correct course, even though she knew better. So it’s pretty heavy stuff. And, um, it’s really important, especially for hard driving female athletes to learn about things like amenorrhea and REDS and HPA access dysfunction from an overly stressful lifestyle, not just from overly stressful training.

Brad (00:01:35):
She’s gonna talk about how lifestyle and training and mentality kind of layer together where you have to evaluate, um, not only the number of miles you’re putting in and the speed that you’re going, but also your attitude and your disposition that can, uh, lead to overly stressful overall experiences. We’re also gonna talk about the massive influx of technology into the endurance athletic experience in recent years, and how there’s certainly pros and cons there and some of the important things to use as your baseline, your foundation, uh, like your intuition. So it’s really, um, a nice flowing podcast from Tawnee’s new home up in northern Idaho. She’s gonna have a couple glitches in her audio. I’m sorry about that due to her spotty internet out there, but that’s what happens when you’re out there on 10 acres and there’s a big snowstorm.

Brad (00:02:31):
So it was kind of fun to also hear her talk about her life journey where she grew up in sunny southern California. Thought it was paradise like most people do that get to live there. And then they her and her husband John, went on a van excursion that lasted two years, driving all over the country and their, you know, path to falling in love with, um, this rural area up in northern Idaho and settling there and raising their family there. So, uh, fun and wide ranging conversation with Tawnee Gibson.

Brad (00:03:03):
Tawnee Prazak Gibson. So glad to connect with you. We have had a nice timeline together of podcasting every few years and so forth. And we thought that would be nice to, uh, reconnect and kind of discuss with everyone, a timeline of our experience in the endurance scene and how things have evolved and some reflections that you’ve had. And obviously things are so different for you now from being deeply immersed in the, in the racing scene to now turning your attention to raising kids and working on your homestead up there in the Pacific Northwest. So let’s get into it. Thank you for joining me.

Tawnee (00:03:42):
Yes, thank you so much for having me. And you know, I’m just over here in my wool layers right now because our house, we are live in a log cabin up in north Idaho now, and our main heating source is a wood stove, and I have my door closed to the office, so it’s a bit chilly in here as we are going through. Uh, it was a late start to winter up here, but now it’s hitting hard and we’re having a blizzard right now, so it’s just a beautiful day,

Brad (00:04:03):
. So, uh, you’re from Southern California and you made this massive relocation after, uh, a quite a long time on the road on the, the hashtag van life doing your thing. What’s the, what’s the experience like and, uh, the, the extreme difference from where you grew up to where you’re settled now with your family?

Tawnee (00:04:23):
Well, Brad, as I was telling you before we started recording, I mean, I thought that I had it all set, you know, being born and raised in Southern California, growing up a surfer, um, living the dream of the endless summer, quite frankly. And thankfully, I had a family who was very on board with all that. We would go surfing until it was dark year round, essentially, even when it was cold. Um, and have bonfires afterwards. And, you know, as I grew up, and my husband, now husband and I lived in Laguna, I’d go running at dawn before anybody was out on the roads and run by the beach and run down Main Beach and run up through Heisler Park. And just, I’d just be like, why would I ever leave this place? This is where people come to vacation. I literally lived in paradise and I have it right out my doorstep.

Tawnee (00:05:05):
We were renters back then, and we would always try to live as close to the beach as possible, and it was fabulous. But then as I grew and evolved and through my own healing journey of just like my health and wellness and my relationship with exercise and training, uh, I just started to question things a little bit more. And really the catalyst for, we started our van life journey, which was in 2018, and we left California. You know, we’d obviously gone on plenty of trips and vacations throughout each of our lifetimes, but my husband John and I left in on, in our van in 2018, and we started living outside of California in this unique format. And it really hit me like, holy moly, there are like so many beautiful places. Like yes, the beach is fantastic, and SoCal is a very amazing spot with fantastic weather.

Tawnee (00:05:52):
Just like Ron Burgundy said, like 70 and sunny, like, here we go. That’s shocking. It’s gonna be another beautiful day in SoCal. Um, but there’s so many other beautiful places in this country, and we got to experience that on such an intimate level living and traveling in our van. And it just got like the wheels spinning in our head of like, where do we wanna live next? Because maybe like, we need to like live this life to the fullest and living in SoCal for the rest of our lives is not that. And that really also coincided with just like, kind of my exit from formal marathon racing and a new chapter in my own exercise and, you know, health and wellness journey as well.

Brad (00:06:28):
And now that you’re on the other side, as I am having, having not participated in a triathlon in many decades, um, you have some important reflections. You do a good job sharing this with your listeners at Endurance Planet, and I’d love to get into some of that. ’cause some of my reflections are, are, are pretty strange and they, they come into the category of, what was I thinking? Why did I do that to my body? I had a PTSD moment at the farmer’s market in Kailua Kona last summer when it was a nice cloud cover. We’re shopping for papayas and mangoes and walking around on the blacktop and, and then the clouds parted and the sun beat down onto this blacktop. And I got really hot and I had to go sit down on the shade. And I was sitting there realizing that this is the same time of day that I racked my bike and took off to run 26 miles in this type of weather.And it was, I mean, I literally started shaking like, oh my gosh, what the hell was I doing to my, this poor kid that was out there racing in the pro division and tried to pass people? And I was so tired I couldn’t even shop for papayas. And it was a strange reflection of like, when I got so extreme and deep into that, health was, you know, a discard. There wasn’t any concern or, or reflections about health. It was purely about fitness and speed and performance and competition. And, it was a little disturbing to reflect on it on on that moment. But I know you’ve had like sort of some, some pros and cons yourself with your reflections and your whole journey.

Tawnee (00:08:00):
So let me just share my fellow. I haven’t actually had the PTSD moment in Kona, but as you’re describing that, you know, I went to Kona for multiple years on the other side of things from the media standpoint starting just kind of on my own, you know, like pulling together whatever finances I could to make it out there to put, get myself in that scene. But one year stands out for me, and I, I think this was probably 2009 or 10, um, and it was Thursday the morning of the Underpants run because back then it was always on Thursday, there was a very set schedule, and I was still very much like about like the look as everybody is in Kona. But I mean, I was in a disordered way still in many ways, even though I probably wasn’t fully admitting of that at that point.

Tawnee (00:08:44):
And I remember going out for a swim at Digney Beach that morning before the underpants run, and I got stung by a jellyfish, and it was really painful. Like it was like, and then, but I was like, oh my gosh, I cannot miss the Underpants Run. And I was in a bathroom, public bathroom somewhere trying to put pee on the jellyfish sting and trying to make it to the Underpants Run because God forbid I missed this opportunity, had to wear like this skimpy little, like, show off the abs and all the muscle outfit. And really, like, I look back at that moment and I was just running on cortisol, like, who knows if I even ate anything that whole day. I was just pure cortisol, like throwing my adrenals literally in the trash, right? And just, that would be like when I went to Kona for a handful of years in the beginning, that was my like whole vibe there.

Tawnee (00:09:32):
Like, I would go, lucky if I was eating anything really. I’d maybe snack on some macadamia nuts along the way, definitely probably having cocktails at night at all the parties, and it just was so unhealthy. Yet I was in this place where health was supposed to be like the thing, you know? And like I’ve stepped back there since with my, you know, then it, it was, we had a six month old that we brought to, um, to Kona for the Ironman World Championships in 2019, which was great. And obviously it was a completely different vibe and mentality I was in then. But yeah, like just so relatable. And I think a lot of people, no matter how you kind of were in the triathlon scene, whether it was you as an athlete or me from the media, like it can really be this like really slippery slope of like, you think you’re going in with the right intentions, but in reality your body is just not thriving.

Tawnee (00:10:24):
It’s not healthy. It really can be a very unhealthy place. And so that was, that’s kind of like a tricky thing in my story where I started off with an eating disorder in 20 years ago, actually, I just passed a 20 year anniversary of when my eating disorder began when I was a freshman in college at San Diego State. Of course, the birthplace of triathlon, like this is all connected somehow. And so this was 20 years ago, and I thankfully was able to get myself out of like the really, really difficult part of the eating disorder relatively quickly. And on one hand, I have to thank triathlon, finding triathlon for that because triathlon was this gift to me to say, I need to fuel my body in order to perform. I want to perform, I want to be fit, I wanna be healthy. However, what I didn’t realize, there’s this other chapter or this other segment of, you know, disordered eating that can take place in vulnerable minds.

Tawnee (00:11:19):
Like mine was in that era of my life where the ability to do triathlon and train and swim, bike and run was one thing, but it was my reason for allowing myself to fuel. Like for, in other words, like I was not comfortable just sitting down with food unless I hadn’t been training, or if I hadn’t been training, then I was very, you know, restrictive and controlling over what I did allow go going into my body. And it was very reflective in the, my health at the time. I suffered from a amenorrhea for 10 years of my life. I did not have a period, and I’m not recommending this to anybody. I’m very grateful that I came out of that healthy, you know, with good bone density, with the ability to, you know, have thriving fertility and go on to have babies and all, and, you know, normal menstruation. But it was obviously I was doing things very out of alignment and I was not nourishing myself even though you would look at me and be like, she looks like the picture of perfect health and fitness. Like, how could anything be going wrong? You know,

Brad (00:12:24):
It sounds like your perception is that it’s extremely common rather than, oh, Tawnee, this individual outlier that had had some issues with her body image eating and, and all the guilt and the emotions surrounding, um, you know, something simple as, as, uh, nourishing the body and honoring one’s appetite.

Tawnee (00:12:49):
Absolutely. And that’s, that’s really the thing, Brad. I mean, even to this day, I think awareness around these things has increased exponentially, even in my time, um, and compassion toward these things. I, I was still, you know, this era that I’m speaking to right now where it was still a very hush hush, you don’t talk about this stuff. I feel like, or at least that was my impression of it. Like the embarrassment and shame I felt around not having a period was like, especially as an up and coming coach and host of a podcast, like, God forbid, I let anybody know that I had this like secret problem, health problem, dysfunction going on. Now fast forward to 2024, and I think that we can much more openly have these conversations and support one another rather than shame one another, which is definitely, like, I had direct experience with being shamed when I tried to speak up in the beginning, and then finally I just said, F it, I need to like share this because I know this is not just me. I know this is a huge community of athletes, and even if you’re not a hardcore athlete like this, this kind of, these kind of health imbalances can happen to your everyday fitness enthusiasts or people who are not even going to the gym. They just have a high stress lifestyle and they’re not supposed those properly. So it really goes beyond just the athletic world too.

Brad (00:13:59):
I didn’t realize, I thought amenorrhea was directly associated with like, extremely low body fat, where you’re looking at the CrossFit queen with the six pack or the Olympic runner, but you’re saying like a high stress lifestyle can also throw the hormones outta whack where you might be walking around secretly with this huge dysfunction in your, in your health.

Tawnee (00:14:19):
Yeah, the, so it’s really interesting that I can’t even tell you how many times in my career I’ve had women come to me and say, but my body fat is over 20%, and I don’t have a period still. And this is where everybody is, even though we have a lot of information and data and specific numbers that are kind of in this space of red s and h HP access dysfunction, amenorrhea, like, there’s a lot of data on it, a lot of research that’s been done on it. But what I really try to emphasize everybody to everybody is that we are all still an N equals one. And what somebody’s stressor is, is not going to be somebody else’s what somebody’s set point is. And my set point in this conversation is about what is the point at which you can regain normal hormonal function of normal period, you know, activity, not, you know, going beyond 90 days without a cycle, what, what you wanna get in that window of like 25 to 30 day cycles.

Tawnee (00:15:11):
What is the point of like body fat, caloric intake, exercise, energy output, you know, what is your secret sauce? And for everybody it’s different. Some, you know, I think back in the day, like in literature, they would say body fat percentage of 14% for females is fine. And I’ve never seen that to be true, honestly. I feel like that to me, it’s, it seems like it’s usually more in like that, at least 18% or so, especially for somebody trying to heal. And for many women it might be more. And what I’ve learned through years and years of experience with myself and working with women in this space is that often also in that initial period of recovery, you have to go above and beyond. You have to eat more. You even think you need to on paper, so to speak, you have to gain, I hate to say it, but you have to gain even more weight and body fat in the beginning just to send the proper signaling for hormonal function to like get up and running again.

Tawnee (00:16:09):
Then eventually, as things are back into more place of homeostasis and we are seeing hormones balance out and normal cycles returning, then you might be able to tweak things a little bit more, um, experiment with things a little bit more, knowing your boundaries though, like having, you know, good boundaries for yourself of like, don’t go too far back into that place where we got ourselves into the trouble or into trouble in the first place. So really, I don’t, I’m not here to give answers on numbers and equations. It’s about also the person, because I do think there’s, we are all these energetic beings, and what led to my healing won’t necessarily be the same for somebody else, but we can dissect each person’s unique and equals one needs analysis to figure out what is their secret sauce, what will work for them, and then they have to want it, of course.

Tawnee (00:17:01):
I mean, that’s the big thing, and that’s for 10 years is because they didn’t really want to heal yet. And I know that sounds crazy, but I wasn’t ready to heal yet. I mean, I wanted to heal. I did want to have amenorrhea. It wasn’t fun. It was definitely this little like devil on my shoulders saying, you have this problem. But at the same time, I wasn’t ready to heal. I wasn’t wanting the healing process to fully begin. And now at this point, it’s been 10 years this year since I’ve did a, since I’ve done a triathlon. So, you know, there’s been a whole era of my life since then of fertility and wellness and hormones and me.

Brad (00:17:38):
Yeah, girl, pumping them out. You got two little kids. What was holding you back from putting your, slamming your head fist on the table and saying, all right, I’m done suffering. I’m gonna heal no matter what you said you were delaying this and, and dragged it out 10 years when you knew you had a problem. And, arguably you knew how to fix it with your knowledge base and your great work with your coaching clients, but something was holding you back.

Tawnee (00:18:06):
You know, I was very, like, I was very wrapped up in the scene. I was wrapped up in my role in all of it, and I was very, very much insecure and influenced about other people’s opinions of me. So in that context, I felt like I had to look a certain way and perform a certain way in order to be accepted as a voice on the podcast, as a voice, you know, as a coach, as an expert in the field. And if I strayed from that and allowed myself to, you know, gain weight, go ease up on training, and therefore perform more slowly in races, that wasn’t an option for me at that point. I mean, it really wasn’t. And I really think that was, it was a combination of factors. It’s a really good question you’re asking because it’s like, why just not do the thing?

Tawnee (00:18:56):
And, you know, I think that also speaks to the eating disorder mentality, where people who don’t, haven’t ever suffered from something like this, they look at a person suffering from an eating disorder and they look, you know, might have a very like, understandable question of like, wow, why can’t they just eat more? Like, mm. Is it like as simple as just like eating more like, mm-Hmm, , why is this such a complicated thing? But that’s the problem with eating disorder. It’s not that simple, uh, whatsoever. And I held on to that mentality for, until I was ready to really like begin my healing process. Like I reached some breaking points at one point, and I was like, I’m done with, this is like my, my state of mind. I also think, think I lying to myself and thinking I was doing things that were healthy. I mean, I was, I was very much on that reic spectrum of perfect diet. Mm-Hmm. All those things. Fasted training, dabbling with keto diets, you know, at that point, like, let’s talk about, like, this was even actually kind of in the beginning of my recovery, but like, as the keto stuff was becoming more in the forefront, and before we knew that a lot of the research was being done on male athletes, it was a very

Brad (00:20:12):
, brutal man , oh, it’s so effective for, uh, getting lean and mean and going faster and feeling more alert and energetic during the workday. Try it out, ladies. Uh, yeah, okay.

Tawnee (00:20:24):
So passing on top of that and like, do all these things and make sure you’re manipulating your carbohydrate intake and like pouring down the fat and blah, blah, blah. And, you know, it sounds very attractive. And at the time, like I took the bait for sure, and did all the things and in the name of health, but mm-hmm. , I probably knew. It’s like, okay, this is just another way to restrict and control. Let’s just be honest, honest. Like this is not, this is not from a place of like nourishment and that that is the difference. And so I don’t think that keto diets are necessarily always wrong for anyone in the population. We gotta do a needs analysis and figure out where is this person at in their life. You know, generally for female athletes, it’s gonna be a hard no for me, but there are other women for whom it may be therapeutic intervention, right?

Tawnee (00:21:08):
You know, there are plenty of women outside of this space who have the opposite problem of being addicted to processed foods and nutritive foods. And for them, maybe a keto diet is this going, is going to be an aha moment. So, you know, we can’t just assume that the, these are hard truths for everybody. But for me, what the difference was that I lived in this state of control and restriction throughout that whole phase of my life of having a amenorrhea. And it would all these variables, you know, as I was speaking to insecurities, the desire to look a certain way, the desire to perform a certain way, which is ironic because I’m sure in retrospect I would’ve had more longevity, better performance, and a lot be more success in general, less injuries, you name it. If I had fueled myself properly and had been having a period along the whole way, you know, hindsight, right? , you know, yeah,

Brad (00:21:57):
It was, it was great to read at Elise Cranny had a feature article that you can find easily. This is the national champion people in the women’s 10,000 meters, and she made an attempt to take off, you know, a couple more percentage of body fat and plunged into that REDS syndrome, which I’m gonna ask you to talk about and describe and amenorrhea as well. And so here’s the Olympic runner who had a performance sufferer. She had stress fractures, you know, directly associated with her dietary deficiency. And so she came back strong and performing at a high level right now today, but she had to describe how she had to extricate from that condition, even at the expense of, you know, having an extra pound that the experts might deem, you know, could cost her a medal instead of her fifth place or whatever she is in the world. So that was interesting to me that like, even when you’re an elite runner at the very, very top, um, it’s still a bad idea to get yourself into that deficiency, Right?

Tawnee (00:23:05):
And we, you know, sometimes what I’ve also learned in this space is that a lot of women, men too, of course, can suffer from this just different kind of, you know, um, you know, presentation of it. But we sometimes have to learn the hard lessons for ourself because let’s face it, there’s a lot of type A hardheaded athletes in this space, myself, one of ’em. You’ve been one of ’em. And so sometimes we have to dig ourselves into the ditch in order to see for ourselves, even though we had all the warnings spelled out for us. And that’s okay. I mean, that’s part of everyone’s journey. And I think that’s definitely what leads to more self-awareness, empathy for others, you know, our growth journey as humans, really. And so it’s not great, but hey, it’s part of it.

Brad (00:23:46):
Yeah, that one’s rough. You’re hitting me in the stomach now, and I, I’ve been reflecting on this where, um, you can, you can kind of get into this mode where you just write everything off as, as part of your journey and your destiny. But the point of, you know, us recording this freaking podcast is for people to listen and say, Hey, look, you don’t have to learn the hard way. Tawnee can tell you about this decade of her life and the control issues and, and the things that, you know, you work so hard to let go of and, and are sharing your story in hopes that people will wake up before it’s too late and say, look, you know, read this article about the Olympic runner who, you know, got herself into a shit hole when, you know she’s getting paid large sums of money to run around the track and, you know, cut back on her calories, uh, foolishly and plunged into injury and decline.

Brad (00:24:39):
And, um, you know, what are you all about? What’s your goal in this sport? What’s your goal with your life? And let’s try to avoid the, um, you know, the roadblocks and the train wrecks. And, um, in my own life, I’m striving to do that such that I’m gonna have a little bit of a, you know, a chip on my shoulder if I say, Hey, it was all part of my journey for me to, uh, , you know, um, crash my bike 10 times ’cause I was too aggressive on downhills. Well, you’re an idiot then too, as well as being, you know, learning things through life experience.

Tawnee (00:25:10):
That’s a good, I I really like that because it challenges us in a way and doesn’t just give us like the easy out or excuse to say, oh, like you’re saying, like, this is just part of my destiny and my journey. I like that. And I think it really kind of inspires people to step up to the plate, you know, and just,

Brad (00:25:28):
Yeah. Yeah. Uh, there’s, you know, new book out by, uh, Robert Sapolsky, noted Stanford professor called Determine, where he argues that, you know, we’re, our lives are entirely self-determined, and it’s very controversial ’cause people are saying, well, you know, that means we’re all just, you know, predestined by, you know, our, our, you know, our, our place of birth and our circumstances, and we have no choice and we’re gonna end up, uh, being on, on death row for being a murderer, or we’re gonna be, you know, CEO and, running for Senate, but you can’t do anything about it. And so it’s a good conversation fodder, and that’s why, that’s why I brought it up when I’m, you know, I’m thinking about the importance of going with the flow and accepting, your mistakes and learning from them. And also saying, you know, I mean, part of my goal with getting older is to be smarter and learn from all my mistakes and, and continue to evolve, and avoid the, um, the pain and suffering that’s unnecessary. Especially when we’re talking on this subject of, you know, it’s hard enough being an endurance athlete. Now you gotta make it harder by bringing in these, you know, emotional elements that cause more stress.

Tawnee (00:26:39):
Right. And, you know, and honestly, I think that’s where sharing the stories, not just present, presenting the research, which is valuable too, but sharing the stories. You know, if we can get into some people’s minds to prevent them from making this series of decades longs of mistakes or years long, whatever it is, then that I’m so passionate what I’m doing on a space to be able to work with many people as I, I would ideally want to. So it’s podcasts like these and my own dirt’s planet where we can really create like effective conversations and change around this stuff. For sure.

Brad (00:27:15):
I want you to describe what REDS is and what the HPA, uh, dysfunction is that you mentioned quickly. Yeah.

Tawnee (00:27:20):
Yeah. So REDS is relative energy deficit in sport, and it’s a newer term, you know, back in the day, which is when I was in grad school, like this was 2009, 2010 or so not terribly long ago. And that just shows you, again, the evolution of these things. Even in the last like 10 to 15 years, there’s been a huge shift around the terminology and just the inclusion of it, because back in the day it was female athlete triad, and that was a very specific, um, exclusive kind of term where you had to meet certain criteria that not everybody would meet, myself included, yet I was still very dysfunctional. And so thankfully, you know, people in charge to these things, , um, decided to redefine this as REDS relative energy deficit in sport to include a broader, uh, you know, category of symptoms.

Tawnee (00:28:17):
Obviously be more inclusive to male athletes as well, and not just female athletes. And really help kind of pinpoint what can go wrong from a health standpoint that leads to the things we’re talking about, amenorrhea health, you know, poor health outcomes or, you know, and really what it comes down to is this energy balance among the other variables. And in addition to that, HP access is hypoth pituitary adrenal access. And it’s kind of like the more intricate terminology than just seeing like adrenal fatigue or, you know, everybody’s like throwing that term around like, adrenal fatigue, this and my adrenals are so burnt out and all this kind of stuff. Um, there’s obviously a lot of controversy or claims of pseudoscience around these terms. Mm-Hmm. But at the end of the day, HPA axis function is a very real thing. It’s signaling from the brain that leads downstream to all these hormonal effects and other things.

Tawnee (00:29:11):
And when we have too much of a stress input, whatever that may be, and this is a key thing for people, it’s like, it doesn’t matter what, that, it’s not just like exercise stress. This is life stress and it’s unique to everybody. We all perceive and deal with stressors differently. You know, I did a really great podcast on over training syndrome at the midpoint or end of last year or so, and I was like, really just, you know, every now and then an article comes my way, way where I’m like, something, a tidbit comes out of that that I hold onto forever. And there’s a couple, and one of them on the over training article that we discussed on an Endurance Planet was the idea that the training volume of these athletes experiencing over training syndrome was relatively low. Hmm. I mean, well under 10 hours a week and intensity wasn’t outrageous either.

Tawnee (00:30:00):
What was the big like, conclusion was that it was all these other life stressors, work stress or school stress that when people are, and so just cognitive stress, you know, or mental emotional stress of some kind that really was like apparent and all these athletes suffering over training syndrome. And so it really like brings home the point of like, when we are working with athletes and, you know, wanting to either prevent these things in the first place or heal from them, we cannot just log onto their training peaks or whatever they do to log their workouts and make conclusions based off that. We have to do a whole analysis. And I think, you know, I’m hoping that we’re getting into an era where coaches and, you know, professionals are gonna be more mindful of these things too, to look at the whole athlete, obviously energy, stress, you know, if you’re under fueling and those kind of things, that’s a huge stress as well.

Tawnee (00:30:53):
Um, but really, I mean, it’s, it’s a bit cliche in some, maybe some spaces to say, but like, the stress is really what can drive us into the ground. And that’s, you know, when I described that story about Kailua Kona and the, the morning of getting stung by the jellyfish and so wanting to make it to the Underpants Run. For a lot of people, they might’ve just been able to brush that off as like, this is funny, whatever. But I was so high stress and high strong at that point. Something like that easily sent me over the edge. Mm-Hmm. And ultimately I have like 50 more examples of that, a hundred more examples of that easily in that period of time where things that probably would not be that big of a deal for some people would easily send me over. ’cause I also had poor stress management skills and, you know, it’s kind of this like vicious cycle.

Tawnee (00:31:42):
And so kind of coming back to your original question of REDS, I think it’s just, it’s great that this exists in this world, um, where we can be more holistic in the way that these conversations, and figuring out pinpointing what it is for somebody. And now let’s find the tools to heal. And so if you are the type of person where then you take the next step of doing blood work, you know, for me, I really love the Dutch test, which is a great, it’s a urine, um, panel or you do urine samples and you get a very holistic look at what your HPA access function is along with your sex hormones for women. You know, if you’re having a cycle, you do at a specific time of your cycle, and I look at cortisol rhythms from morning to evening, and we can conclude a lot based on that test alone, pairing it up with the person and their presentation and their symptoms to then give best recommendations for people. And that is honestly usually in my space and the way I coach people and the type of athletes that come my way, that’s usually the place I would even start before blood work, quite frankly for a lot of people.

Brad (00:32:42):
Okay. Yeah. If you’re, if you can’t afford blood work, you can wake up in the morning and see if you feel fried or you feel alert, energized, and happy. Yeah,

Tawnee (00:32:51):
Exactly. Exactly. And then, you know, I’m really entering this chapter two of like taking this information that we’re discussing right here, really understanding a person and what makes them tick or what sends them, or how easily they’re sensitive to stressors or, and the lack of ability to deal with stress. And then really kind of dive into who they are as a person and like find out like kind of the roots of wellness where, where they’re lacking in their life and how we can make, bring them back to wholeness again. And I’ll tell you Brad, like sometimes people will come my way and they’re not ready and they ghost me. Like they’re just not ready for this kind of work. And that is okay. I send them off with compassion and love and hope that the day does come for them. But other people usually speaking, like they, they’re, by the time they come to me, they’re ready for this investment.

Tawnee (00:33:35):
Or they’re the athletes that are like, what you say really resonates. I don’t wanna get myself in trouble. Like, I wanna work with someone like you, even if it means I’m not the fastest marathon, or even if it means I end up deferring this year’s race until two years from now because you think it’s not right for me to race this year, I will listen to you. And I’m so grateful to work with athletes like that who have that open-mindedness around their race schedule and, you know, changing plans and not being so hard on like, I have to do this race on September 20th, or I’m not gonna have any self-identification, like it’s gonna wreck me and my life already sucks, so I need to do this race on September 20th. Oh, not doing the race, because that’s actually probably the better thing for you based on everything you’re telling me right now, .

Brad (00:34:18):
Yeah. That’s funny. You described the people ghosting you and I think it’s a very serious point where, um, there’s a perverse payoff to revving up this high stress existence. And I think anyone can relate where you have the, you know, the hard driving workaholic person. You have someone who’s training to the extreme, um, even a, uh, a parent who’s mothering like crazy and, and getting completely stressed out about what, what what soccer team the child is placed on, or whether they have the preferred teacher, whether their math tutor is available on Tuesdays. ’cause they have piano on Wednesdays. And, um, you know, we can all go there and it, it, it seems like, um, we get off on it to a certain extent. Like when you get to Kailua Kona during Ironman week, and the energy is so crazy, um, it’s not like a vacation spot that it is for the other 51 weeks a year.

Brad (00:35:11):
It’s just total electricity and intensity. And it’s exciting. And you meet people from around the world and you meet all the listeners that, you know, you’ve been podcasting in your, in your little booth by yourself. And then you get to, you know, commune with everybody and it’s super fantastic and awesome and exciting, but it’s also ultra high stress. And I think it’s important to reflect that, hey, you know, there’s a payoff. I get off on a certain a portion of this. And then, um, do I want to, you know, consider these these big questions that you get ghosted on. Like, hey, is there a way to carve in some balance where you don’t have to destroy your health in pursuit of an exciting, adventurous, bold and daring life?

Tawnee (00:35:53):
Mm-Hmm. . And I think there is a way to have it all. Like I really do think we can have the high stress weeks in Kailua Kona. I think we all can do the marathon, um, that we want to do. But I think there is a discipline that we need to learn around these things. And most of us, it’s not the discipline to be accountable and do more and adhere to the plan. It’s the discipline to know when you need to rest and sit back for a minute and scale back and reevaluate the timeline of like how you’re expecting to train and race on September 20th. You know, we’re using that example. And if that needs to be September 20th the following year, that there’s no shame in that either. Like, you’re still, we all know that you’re an amazing person who has the capabilities to run a marathon, but we also want you to be well for yourself, for your family, and delaying that a year to me.

Tawnee (00:36:45):
Like I’m cool with that, you know, if that means that all these other things are, and so that discipline is hard for many of us to learn. And that’s, I think that goes to another, you know, bullet point of like, when you asked me why did you kind of let this go on for 10 years when you knew that it wasn’t necessarily the right thing? It’s like I lacked that discipline to pull the plug when I should have pulled the plug so many times, like there was multiple times I needed to pull the plug and I didn’t know how, I didn’t have the tools to pull the plug and say, no, you know, no, you’re, this was like most in my twenties. I’m like, yes, all to everything. Yeah,

Brad (00:37:19):
You, you were too deep into it, Tawnee, you know? Mm-Hmm. . And that’s, that’s a compliment. Like, you dedicated your heart and soul, your time and energy. You’re the podcast queen. You’re, you’re a public figure and it’s not so easy to say, screw this, I’m gonna drive 20 minutes down and, and go to the beach all day. Um, it’s, it’s really tough. And I remember my, um, my, my good friend, former training partner, the late Don Weaver, when I, I announced that I was retiring from triathlon and we weren’t gonna be training together anymore. He’s like, you can’t retire. You’re too wound up in this, this is your whole career and your job, and all your friends and your social life, and I challenge you, you can’t do it. And it was such a great funny thing to say because he was serious, but I was like, you know what? I am gonna have to jump ship here, and I have let my career linger about a year too long.

Brad (00:38:15):
Like I should have quit when my, my buddy Andrew McNaughton did, um, at the end of 93. And instead, I took a whole nother year of my life and dedicated myself to the training. When I realized very clearly, because we can time ourselves in workouts, I realized I had fallen off from my peak and I was gonna get my ass kicked, which I did. Um, so it was a nice graceful exit that, you know, where I dragged it on too long and realized I was holding on for the all the wrong reasons because it was just my familiar pattern and I was whatever fearful and, you know, un un of the unknown that lay ahead when I finally, um, you know, walked away from, uh, being a professional athlete, which of course a lot of my identities wrapped up in and my social life and my daily schedule and all those things.

Tawnee (00:39:00):
Right, exactly. And you know, something you just said too, it’s like I’m down for people to do the hustle. Like I, I don’t regret the hustle that I put in and the work I put in to get my career up and running my dream career. You know, I started off outta college with one career, pivoted, made another career, and had a lot of success with it. I wasn’t necessarily a professional athlete, but I had, I feel like I had a lot of success racing the way I did in a short amount of time. And so I don’t necessarily regret any of that, what I’ve done certain things differently? Maybe. yeah, for sure. Uh, definitely. But at the same time, like it really was like a ticket to burnout, you know? It really, I was punching my ticket to burnout, and I’m grateful that I found the tools to allow a next chapter after that where I, you know, changed my habits.

Tawnee (00:39:53):
I still got to race, but with a different mindset. I still am thriving into my coaching business and Endurance Planet, and now I have two kids that I’m taking care of, you know, so I, I feel like I got really lucky by like, finding the right tools to make monumental shifts and still do all these wonderful things that I was doing back then. I mean, like I said, we still went to Kona. Even we had, when it had a baby in our arm, , she was only six months old and she was literally at the finish line at the Ironman World Championships. Like that was a cool moment for our family, and a proud moment for me to think like how full circle I had come after like the years of being like an amenorrhea person at Kona, and now I’m like my baby and I’m a breastfeeding mama with like extra weight on my body right now, and I’m totally cool with that. And so I feel like I really wanted to still thrive in this space, but I knew the burnout I had created in the twenties was not gonna be the sustainable approach. And so I was like, all right, let’s do this work. This is hard work, but let’s do it. And now I’m living that, and it is a beautiful chapter to be living in this, this phase of it all.

Brad (00:41:01):
Yeah. I guess we can have it all in a certain sense. And one of the ways possibly to do it is just slow the heck down a little bit and not be so, um, dogged about measuring up to outside standards. Like, uh, a lot of the athletes that are, um, very serious or like to talk about the podium and have, have these goals where, you know, they desperately want to be in the top three in their age group and get recognized accordingly. But, um, if that comes at the expense of, um, you know, attending your child’s soccer games or helping out around the house, it’s like, why don’t you just go for the top 10 or the top 20, have a fantastic time, you know, and, and get, you know, get a little more, um, balance. And then of course, I’m voicing this opinion to, uh, the most incredibly type A population you could draw up or, or find on the planet.

Tawnee (00:41:58):
But here, let’s, let’s give it a real life example of that. So I think my half marathon PR from like over or 2013 or so was like 01:30, like pre not great. Like I’m not professional wanted by any means, but that was like, I was booked, it was pretty good day. Um, I actually ran that with a broken wrist too because I was like, God forbid I broke my wrist, but God forbid I don’t do this race that we signed up for. Right? That

Brad (00:42:17):
Was, that kind of hurts in case you don’t know people, you’re swinging the broken. I remember having a break broken thumb and it was just super painful to run with. I couldn’t believe it.

Tawnee (00:42:26):
I don’t even know. Do you, like, I don’t even know how I did some of these things, but I did. And it was a PR day, so that was me in 2013. Now, me in 2023 af being postpartum, like within a year postpartum, and I wanted to do another half marathon. There was a local one here. And not only did I enjoy the process of training, like I felt like my goals and my approach to race day were so realistic because I prioritize what was most important to me. And running a fast time was so far down the list and not important, you know, just getting myself out running and consistent again, but still being present for my family and finding that out balance, however that worked for us. And so as of the training process went along, I was like, okay, I’m not that great.

Tawnee (00:43:15):
I’m not, you know, as consistent. I like to be, I got a baby at home, she’s breastfeeding all this stuff, but like, this is going well. Like, I’m getting some fitness back. Like I’m grateful for this body of all those years of work that I have such a strong body, you know, after having babies. And so when it came down to it, like I was like, I probably won’t be able to go under two hours. Like realistically, I do not think I’m gonna be able to run under two hours. Like I’m just not that level of fitness yet, and that is okay, I can stay with full honesty. I did not give a crap about that. I was just excited. I started to view my long run days on Sundays, for example, as just like me time, which I don’t get much of these days.

Tawnee (00:43:50):
So it’s like, this is therapeutic, whatever the performance of the day is, I get this time to myself and it’s wonderful. And I come back a better person to my family. Race day came, I ended up running like a 01:59. Wow. And I will tell you, I, my heart rate rate was exploding at the end. It was so hard. Like I ran, I paced well, like as you would want, you wanna speed up at the end of a race like that. And so I paced the race very well, ran to my fitness level, but I saw that sub two was possible. And I was like, I’m doing it . And, and honestly that sub two felt just as good as the 01:30, you know? And that’s my point. It’s like they’re vastly different times in a half marathon. So far different. The preparation monumentally different, the type of athlete I was then versus now, but the feeling of it and like the joy of that performance was equal, if not greater on the postpartum run because it’s just like, I felt like I conquered something too in overcoming that obsessive type A ness Wow.

Tawnee (00:44:53):
Really brought me down into a negative space of like, you’re not the athlete you once were. You can’t run a 01:30 anymore. You suck. You’re all washed up and old and who cares about, you’re still 01:59. I don’t have thoughts like that. I honestly can say with full confidence, I don’t have thoughts like that. And I don’t care if a thought like that were to come into my mind, I would literally laugh at it. I’d be like, you’re out of here. I don’t need you. Don’t serve me goodbye and enjoy just where I’m at in this life. And so, like, I don’t know. And that’s, I’m a pretty hardcore type A personality type, and that’s, you know, that’s been a journey to get to this kind of mindset that I’m describing.

Brad (00:45:29):
Yeah, I mean, you’ve done a lot of work to your credit because that’s pretty awesome place to get there. And, um, I think it’s a great tip for athletes in the older age groups like myself where the parameters and the standards are, are recalibrated without my without my high awareness. And it’s just like, okay, um, I’m, I’m so far from, you know, the memory of my past, and you better accept it because, um, you know, the watch is staring you right in the face. I remember, um, going out and doing a mile time trial for the first time in many, many years. I just wanted to see where I was at and I’m sure I could run really fast. And, um, I was up on my toes feeling strong with my great stride, and I’m like, oh, I’m gonna be 04:47, just like, you know, one of the workouts I did 20 years ago and I was just barely under six minutes and I’m sprinting for the finish going, this was my training pace, you know, 20, 25 years ago for, you know, a talking pace under, uh, MAF heart rate.

Brad (00:46:31):
And, um, you know, after a minute of, uh, recalibration, I realized that, you know, the, the beauty and the challenge of pushing the human body, whatever the watch says, I’m still kind of, you know, getting that tremendous sense of satisfaction from, uh, seeing what I can do. And, um, yeah, there’s some like, uh, it’s like putting the gutter guards up at the bowling alley. You’re gonna get a score on the, on the computer, even though if you hit the gutters three times and it knocked in the front pin and you got a strike it, it’s okay. It’s just, you know, it’s part of the it’s part of the fun.

Tawnee (00:47:07):
Yeah, exactly. And I don’t think this, I love that because it’s exactly, you’re exactly like, aligned with what I’m saying here is that it’s all relative to where we’re at. And it’s to just emphasize too, this is not an excuse to just go easy on yourself or like give up or just say, well, you know, I’m gonna be slow, so I might as well just be slow. And, you know, half as my training plan. Like, I felt very mentally engaged to the training plan I put in place for myself and like kind of my whole approach to it last year. And, you know, it was still pushing myself in a way that was relative to where, what the season of life I was in at that point. And that was a satisfying, joyful experience. Um, and so I think that’s an important point. It’s not to say like, just I’m giving up. It’s hard. I got other things to do. I was drinking too much last night. All these stupid excuses that I don’t buy into either. I think it’s like, well, you know what, then you need to like step it up and be a little more accountable. ,

Brad (00:48:05):
Right? Oh my goodness. Yeah. And, speaking of the podium, I’m, I’m thinking of a profound comment that our buddy Phil Maffetone made to me, uh, during a interview. And he was talking about, you know, the disparity in finished times. If you go to the marathon and you look at the guys coming in at 02:30 and, um, then the three hour pack and then the 03:30 and the four hour, and I don’t know how we got onto the, the punchline here, but you know, there’s variations in training and dedication. But he said, you know, a lot of that disparity in finish time is attributable to genetics. And so, you know, you can do your best and, uh, put in all your training and have the right coaching and monitor your heart rate. And if your genetic predisposition is to be more of a 03:30 person than a three hour person, um, you sure as hell better accept that and, and be, be proud and raise your arms at the finish line.

Brad (00:48:58):
And that was a big one for me. ’cause when I was up there, um, trying to, you know, climb the ladder to the highest rankings on the pro circuit, um, you know, I’d, I’d go and train with people like Mike Pigg and he was a freak. He had, he had no sense of diminished energy, uh, as, as a variable in his training. And so he’d wake up at 6:00 AM and go all day long, and then we’d have to race to chop wood for his fire before it got dark. And you know, to me, I’m like, Hey, when’s my nap time? When’s my easy day? I was just a normal person trying to get the most outta my body, but you, you realize what you’re up against. And, and the difference in people’s lifestyle circumstances, their genetics, and all the factors that come into play, it really is a vote for focusing on your own, you know, peak performance standards and, and being proud that you’re giving your best with the circumstances and the tools that you have.

Tawnee (00:49:51):
Right, exactly. And I, God bless Phil Maffetone for, you know, educating us all on that and bringing the whole health conversation to the forefront for endurance athletes in a way that I don’t think anyone quite has done the way that Phil has. And, you know, I was really lucky that Phil came into my life as a friend, as a mentor, as, you know, an ongoing guest on Endurance Planet at just the right time when I really started to need, like, needing to hear those principles and embrace them. And, you know, it’s like, okay, so we can standardize some finished times. Like for example, like BQ times in order safe to say that if you’re in good fitness and you’re this age and this gender, you can get roughly this time and get to Boston. Right? So of course we can make generalizations like that, but you’re absolutely right too, where it’s like, race your race.

Tawnee (00:50:42):
Like I’ve saw pretty quickly that I was never gonna be one of these Olympic trials, like 02:30 marathon girls, because the more I tried to train like that, the worse my health would get. Mm-Hmm. . And so whatever it is, it is like maybe that upset me for a chapter of my life where, you know, the harder I pushed, like the more problems with surface. Gut health, you know, like the hormonal stuff. Um, and, but then just ultimately accepting like good for them, for having the right variables, genetics being one of them to be able to train and race and pull, put, like put out those kind of numbers and performances. Like it’s a beautiful thing to watch. I am not one of those athletes, but that does not make people in our category any less if we’re, you know, dedicated to the arts of it.

Tawnee (00:51:30):
You know, you mentioned, but the funny thing is, is like, then I started to realize like, it’s fun to chase PRs in times, but you know, what else is fun? Chopping wood, like you’re saying functional fitness, it’s like doing, you know, I think people really also, like, if they’re in that category of like late thirties into their forties, performance still matters. But now we’re starting to think about longevity and how we’re gonna feel into later decades. I mean, obviously you’re, you have Brad served as such a fantastic example to not only myself, but such a wonderful community of, you know, thriving into later decades in life. But I, you know, people wanna do more than just like run their fastest time and they realize maybe actually running the fastest time isn’t the best thing for me right now. , maybe I should be more functional and have a skillset like learning how to chop wood and just doing that motion and getting comfortable, something like that.

Tawnee (00:52:27):
It doesn’t have to be something extreme like that. You know, back in the day for me it was a sledgehammer swing on a tire. Mm-Hmm. Or joyful thing to do. Um, but my point is, is like I also reached this chapter in my healing as far as like my habits and a shift in the way I was thinking about things of like, races are fun chasing times and performances is truly fun, even if it wasn’t the healthiest thing for a number of years. But also using our fitness to do really badass things in other spaces outside of orange cones set up on a roadway somewhere is really fun too. Like, it’s really fun and potentially satisfying, more satisfying in a very like, unique soul filling kind of way. And so I started craving more of that. And that’s, you know, I think ultimately that sort of lended to, in our van life journey as we traveled around the country and exploring all these different places and ultimately coming up here to the north, seeing a place like Montana and Idaho and Washington State and all these beautiful states in Oregon and like being like, oh my gosh.

Tawnee (00:53:31):
Like, yeah, the winters are cold, but like, this is a playground. This is literally a playground. There’s much to do here and I’ve built these year, this year’s worth of fitness, let me go play in this playground. And I definitely have seen it in in that way, um, even in the middle of snow season, like we’re in right now. Uh,

Brad (00:53:49):
Another thing I wanted to ask you was the evolution in, um, training methods that we’ve seen over the years and having been displaced from actually training at, at the highest level for a long time. I’m really impressed at the, the times that, you know, today’s athletes are putting in, they’re just beyond belief fast at Olympic distance and Ironman. But there’s also, um, some questions I have about, has all this technology really, um, created a, uh, a, a benefit to the most important things in my mind, like the stress, rest, balance of the athlete, or we now just become so obsessed with technology and numbers that we’re digging ourselves a whole, just like the uninformed athletes of decades ago where we didn’t really know what we were doing. We didn’t have a lot of exercise physiology data, and so we thought the idea was to train as long as you could, uh, every week and put up the biggest numbers and then you’d go win the race. But I, I’m just wondering, uh, what your reflection is on how things have changed.

Tawnee (00:54:54):
Yeah, yeah. You know, obviously times have gotten faster, but then again you have Mark Allen’s marathon times from back in the day that are fantastic still and like still hold up against the best. Right. Um, and so people were putting together performances in Ironman distance back in when you were a professional athlete that are right up there with some of the best times we see now. Technology for sure has taken us further. The ability to, you know, be more dialed in with training has taken us further. But I, what I worry about most in this space is the unhealthy relationship slash addiction with technology and an overwhelming amount of technology taking away from just the art and experience and process in a way. And so if you’re a professional elite athlete and this is your career, that’s one thing. Like go utilize resources that we have at our fingertips right now.

Tawnee (00:55:55):
I think it’s fantastic and it is enjoyable. You know, my worry is for some of these guys and gals pushing in like incredible times, like, will that lend to longevity in sport for them if they’re just like crushing it, you know, and are they gonna shine brightly for a few years and then fade out the manipul to get time? But how long will that last? Um, and how healthy is that? You know, I’m lucho my, one of my dear dear friends of life and my ongoing co-host on endurance plan. I feel like he and I always kind of have like a healthy, um, debate on this idea of like, at some point, if you wanna perform well, you have to give up and sacrifice some help. Like, you really can’t have it both ways. Like, you can’t be the healthiest person and go bust out like a sub nine, sub eight hour Ironman.

Tawnee (00:56:42):
You just can’t, like, there’s going to be a sacrifice somewhere that’s being made and can you rest and recover from that to get back to it. So as far as like on that professional level, I think they have a team that is helping them, implementing the latest and greatest in technology. And not just from a training standpoint, but from a rest and recovery standpoint. Things like orderings and everything that’s monitoring our sleep or lending to better rest and recovery. Like, it’s great. It’s awesome. Like, it’s really interesting to kind of follow and watch all this personally, like in my, in my space and the way I’m approaching life, you know, not even from an athletic standpoint, but just generally I feel like I’m feeling like the push, like I’m pushing away from involving too much technology in the way I approach anything really. Mm. I, you know, last year I, I thought to myself like, you know, I have lived with a heart rate monitor and a GPS watch on my body for as long as I can remember.

Tawnee (00:57:44):
Like, you know, back in the day before we had like everything dialed in one watch. I used to wear two watches on my wrist. Mm-Hmm. , like the regular Timex man and then the PS and for whatever reason I had to have two. I don’t even remember why it was. Um, and so like I’ve been slapped on with technology from the beginning. I had wired power meters on my bike that would give me so much hassle before they were so much more integrated the way they are now. Um, and really where I’m at now is like, but what about just like the art of running and like the art of training and just getting better by, you know, manipulating the variables and progressing in a way that, you know, your test, retest. Okay. So it’s like, we’ll do our MAF test, which is pretty basic and straightforward, then see what we need to do and see if our MAF test gets faster the next time.

Tawnee (00:58:30):
Or we’ll give, you know, whatever test you want to use, field test, like simple. And then just simply doing the work to get better without having to be so addicted to the variables. And that was hard for me ’cause I feel like I’m a very like, data like addicted-driven person. I’m a coach, like I’m looking at data every single day for athletes. But for myself, I just feel like I needed to step away from that. And it was a really like joyful thing to do, to be able to just reconnect with my love for sport without it being about like numbers and variables and data and technology. You know, I’ll say to this day too, I’ve never gotten on Strava. I’ve never had a Strava account because like, I just don’t wanna be in that scene like with the Q5t4rtueen in the Queen of the mountain, king mountain, like, you know, um, fastest known times, all that kind of stuff.

Tawnee (00:59:17):
Like, it’s cool and I like how it drives and motivates people, but I also think like the simplicity and the connection to nature and other things are more important to me, you know? And so I don’t think there’s any right answer. If anybody wants to use a technology to the maximum level, that’s fine with me. I mean, we, it’s cool to see these things coming out, but on the other hand, I’m, I’m a like simple person where it’s like, use the technology as needed, but then step away from it. And I think I’ve had this conversation with Phil too, actually now that I’m remembering like from back in the day of like, you know, like sleep monitors and stuff like that. It’s like if you’re having a, um, you know, sleep issue of any kind, you can implement the data to understand maybe what’s going on a little bit more and then, you know, make a plan, hopefully recover from it, and then step away from the data Mm-Hmm. and use the data and just trust at the end of the day that our bodies know what to do given the rules. And that’s, that’s actually like really what I fear in all of it is that we’re more reliant on technology and less reliant on the fact that we have everything within us. The knowing, you know, of what to do and the trust within ourselves that can exist but doesn’t for many because we’re too addicted to numbers. Again, I think numbers are useful, but I think it can be a slippery slope.

Brad (01:00:42):
Yeah. Well said. I think intuition has to be the, you the ultimate arbiter of your training decisions. And you can use all the technology you want, but it, first of all, it’s gotta feel right. And it, you gotta feel aligned every time you do a workout. Otherwise, you know, all the planning and the scheduling and paying good money for someone to help you create a schedule I know is important. But the ability to make changes on the fly, I think in, in every realm, even the, the experts of, uh, business will, you know, will share that ideal as well. You have to be able to go with the flow.

Tawnee (01:01:21):
Yeah. You know, this morning I was reading a book by Dan John, where he’s one of my favorite strength coaches of all time. And I was reading his book, um, I think it’s like Mass Made Simple or stuff, and he was v section of just talking about his roots of what got him interested in strength training or just kind of how it intuitively happened for him and that the program he developed decades ago is still kind of like the foundation that he uses today. You know, despite all the research, just all the in technology, just like being experts now, it’s still like sometimes like you don’t have to overcomplicate things and the simplest way is still potentially the best way. And I really like people like him talking about that because technology tends to overcomplicate things. There’s now too much to have to like consider when in reality it doesn’t have to be that complicated.

Tawnee (01:02:22):
Can it be more simple? And I’ve had athletes, you know, thankfully I am, I have this great group of athletes right now, that one of my athletes I’ve been with, I’m coming up on our 14th year working together 14th anniversary. Most of my other athletes have been with me for at least five years, up to 10 years at this point. And so that’s a kind of a special space that I’m in right now as far as coach athlete relationships. And there’s one athlete I’m thinking of right now where it’s been such a personal journey for him, and like different seasons have, you know, lent led us different ways where there was one season where he really needed to step away from data and technology and training and racing. Like he’s not always been like that and he loves being connected and dialed in, but there was just a time in his life where he’s like, I just need to step away from all of it.

Tawnee (01:03:07):
And that was actually a year he got some of his best PRs. And it, I think because the mental of that was so important, like the, the emotional attachment to the data had kind of like burnt him out in a way. And so like, let’s just start over. Let’s just like keep this fresh and free and fun and let my body guide, you know, we have the right plan in place. I’m training and let my body tell me what I need to do on the race without it having to be like, check my watch and my heart rate and my things every like 35 seconds, right? Mm-Hmm. And that was like, those are beautiful opportunities to get with athletes when you could see them, like take a step back and see them over time and see that evolution and then see when those moments like really impacted their overall experience as an athlete. And we didn’t care. Like he had great races, but we didn’t care what the day-to-day numbers were for a lot of that year.

Brad (01:03:57):
Yeah. I’m also gonna say that since we’re talking about endurance sports, where, um, you know, the, the technique is not a huge aspect except in swimming. But overall we’re talking about aerobic conditioning, with not a whole lot of nuance. So I’m, you know, wondering why we need to, you know, design these elaborate workouts where you’re going to push the pedals on your bicycle in a circular manner and try to, you know, put out more watts for a longer period of time. It’s not complicated like you might compare to a sport like golf where there’s a tremendous amount of, you know, disparate skills that you need and technique precision and so forth. So, um, you know, we’re, we’re talking about anything over an hour is 99% aerobic system. So it’s not, it’s not rocket science, put it that way,

Tawnee (01:04:51):
But yeah, we over, okay, so it’s funny you should bring that up because like we all as humans, understandably, like have this ability to overcomplicate the most simplest things like learning how to run faster. At the end of the day, yes, there is technique and there is, you know, an basic understanding of training that you need to have and heart rate, you know, whatever. But at the end of the day, it’s not complicated. And how many times in your life, in my life in Phil Maffetone tone’s life, for example, like MAF Method Method is a great example here. The 180 formula is so straightforward, like there is really nuanced. I mean, yes, there is from the variables that ultimately impact the outcomes, but the training itself is so straightforward yet, I mean, I’ve been on Endurance Planet for 13 years now, and like, it it’s still a mystery to so many of us. Like, how does math method work? You know, and how do I get better at it? And then I was just reading, when I was reading Dan John this morning too, he is like, people just wanna over complicate something that is so simple. Like they just want to, like, I have endless questions over something that I don’t understand how it’s so complicated yet somehow people tend to make it complicated. So I don’t know why, why don’t we, why do we do that as people? Like, I don’t know.

Brad (01:06:01):
Yeah, I don’t know. I’m more, more, uh, more mental engagement for something that’s kind of mindless.

Tawnee (01:06:07):
And you know, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate every single question I’ve gotten over the years from people trying to pursue the MAF method and have success in it because it’s made my mind think critically about all different variables that can impact outcomes. But at the end of the day, like, you’re right, comparing like running and aerobic training to like something technical like golf, you just can’t, like ,

Brad (01:06:31):
You just get out there, , get out there and put in the work. Man. Tawnee have one final important matter to discuss, be before we go. Um, and that’s because you mentioned the Underpants Run like three times during this podcast, so I wonder if you can tell the listeners the origin of the Underpants Run and what it’s all about there in Kailua Kona Iron Man Week.

Tawnee (01:06:54):
Well, isn’t it a charity that they do? I mean, I know that, uh, Rock Fry and Paul Huddle have been leaning it from the, I mean, you were around before I was there. I didn’t start going to Kona until 2009. Um, but I’m mean, that was a time when it was just like the good old days there. And I saw the evolution of it change from, you know, right out in front, like on Alii Drive, kind of low key to then starting behind, what is that hotel right there, um, where everybody goes after the race. Um, I forget what

Brad (01:07:28):
The hotel’s called. Yeah. The King K or something, but,

Tawnee (01:07:31):
Um, yeah.

Brad (01:07:32):
But yeah, it’s a, it’s a big run now. There’s, there’s what, a thousand people or something? Right?

Tawnee (01:07:37):
Not more. And it’s just like this big spectacle now. I mean, I was really lucky to still be able to go to Kona in like, it’s where before it changed, there was a significant shift after the Boston Marathon bombings. I remember just the whole production of it, understandably again, obviously, you know, making security a priority. Um, but yeah, as far as I’m remember, isn’t it just it didn’t have roots in just being more of a charity run and something silly and simple?

Brad (01:08:01):
Well, it started with these, uh, two, uh, old time triathletes, Paul Huddle and Rock Fry. And the, the inspiration was, um, for some reason when the athletes descend upon Kalo Kona from all over the world, uh, to, to do this great, uh, Hawaii Ironman, um, a lot of ’em think it’s okay to parade around in their Speedos, uh, because of course they’re athletes and they’re racing in this important race. So they’d be seen in, uh, restaurants, grocery stores, uh, hotel lobbies, uh, walking around in really skimpy gear, so Huddle and, and Rock, in defiance, uh, decided to run down Alii Drive in full view of, you know, where all the action was wearing their, you know, proper white jockey underwear. And, uh, did a nice five mile run and got a few looks. And that’s how it started. It was, it was sort of like, um, not to, uh, not to name any names, but it was, um, a lot of times I think the finger was pointed at the, the European athletes coming in and thinking it was okay to walk around in a Speedo and sit down at the, at the coffee shop next to you.

Tawnee (01:09:06):
And then you add ridiculous things on top of that, like compression socks and kinesio tape and all the other silly things that triathletes tend to do that just make us look even more outrageous.

Brad (01:09:16):
There you go. Um, that’s awesome. Yeah, Tawnee, what a great conversation. Uh, you’re always full of, uh, honesty and vulnerability and great insights. So, um, let’s, uh, have the listeners connect with you in, in every way that you mention, please.

Tawnee (01:09:32):
Yeah. Yeah. So Endurance Planet, our podcast found anywhere where Podcast Stream, um, that’s where you’re gonna hear most from me these days. That’s where I’m most consistent. Um, you know, I have a coaching website, Coach Tawnee.com, I believe you can tell, I don’t even know. I think people somehow find that still, I haven’t updated it in over a decade, but it’s there. So if you wanna get ahold of me, you can do that on Instagram, Tawnee Gibson, um, you know, I’m, I’m, I pop on every now and then, but definitely the podcast is where I most, most consistent

Brad (01:10:06):
Tawnee Gibson Endurance Planet. Thanks for coming on and have a great day. Thanks for listening, everybody.

Brad (01:10:16):
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