“Running is the most simplistic and puristic sport you can do. You put one foot in front of the other, you run as hard as you can for as long as you can, and whoever crosses the finish line first wins. But to see people now not have that joy—and I ask a lot of athletes, ‘Why did you start running?’ and a lot of them started running because they wanted to run with their dad or they wanted to make the school team, they speak with all this joy—and it saddens me that at this point a lot of them don’t have joy. They’ve got tunnel vision, and they’re gonna make it, and they’ll sacrifice everything, and they come to training and you can just see that there’s this tension in them and they just can’t let it go. They’ve already analyzed, overanalyzed, and psychoanalyzed just the training workout and I’m like, ‘Just let it go!’ You’ll have good runs and you’ll have bad ones—if you have a bad one, catch up with some friends and go out and have a beer and just let it go. So, trying to get them to realize that training is a cumulative effect and it takes weeks, and months, and years, and if you’ve already got this attitude starting out in your career, you’re not gonna last. So trying to get them centered as to why they do it, what they want to get out of it, but more importantly enjoying it.”
This week’s guest is one of my favorite people in the sport of running: Lee Troop. Troopy, as he’s known by his friends, is a retired three-time Olympian in the marathon for Australia with a personal best of 2:09:49 for the distance. He’s lived in Boulder, Colorado for the last 10 years, where he coaches a handful of athletes and puts on local running events around Boulder County.
I caught up with Troop a little over a month ago and we had a great, wide-ranging conversation. We talked about his competitive career, from joining his dad on runs when he was 11 years old, to running at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, and how his brief time there prepared him for a career as an international athlete. We talked about retiring from the sport in his early 40s and why Masters racing just doesn’t interest him. Along those lines, we got into the struggles that athletes face after retirement and what he would recommend based on his own experiences. We talked about coaching, and why he stepped back from it last year after one of his athletes, Jonathan Grey, committed suicide—and also how that experience affected him and changed his perspective moving forward.
Troopy has a real passion for people, and that’s something we also got into here, along with a discussion of mental well-being and relationships, why it’s important to work on those two things throughout your life, and so much more.
Related links, references, and resources:
— Lee Troop—Something to Prove: “You live by the sword and you die by the sword,” Troop told Runner’s Tribe in an interview. “Regardless of what other people think, I don’t have any regrets.”
— “His diagnosis made me realize that I shouldn’t take life for granted,” Troop said about coming out of retirement in 2017 to run the Gold Coast Marathon in celebration of his dad’s recovery from cancer. “So, running on the Gold Coast is a wonderful way to celebrate life and his recovery.”
— Troopy’s Tapering Tips: “Nothing extra you do from a training perspective in the taper will make you run better,” he told me in 2015, “but it can certainly ruin your chance of success if you do something so hard that you don’t recover from it.”
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Music and editing for this episode of the morning shakeout podcast by John Summerford at BaresRecords.com
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