When the North Carolina State football team received the Bod Pod, a human-sized capsule that measures body composition, Hoenes thought it could be a great opportunity for her athletes too. But, she says, “We realized very quickly that we weren’t using the data, and it wasn’t worth the data if someone had an eating disorder propensity or comparing themselves to other people.” It was an easy decision to stop using it.
Deliberately ditching data and moving towards a healthy, intentionally fun culture is a rarity in such a high level of competition.
Instead, it’s more common to hear athletes talk about what they call toxicity when it reaches a breaking point. Over the past few years, many runners have spoken out by reading and acknowledging Mary Kane’s experience. Kane, a child prodigy once hailed as the future of American long-distance running, has described how she endured years of body ridicule from Alberto Salazar, her former coach. In the months and years after Kane was exposed, runners across the US shared their own experiences: thick talk, shame and manipulation, harassmentand obsession with body composition numbers over mental health.
Creating a healthy, inclusive, inclusive culture is at the forefront of NC’s agenda. There are brunches after long runs. There are fighting game nights and very fierce mini golf games. Hoenes’ house hosts cooking competitions modeled on the TV show “Chopped” and dinners hosted by high school students. Lots of basketball too, even though HORSE is encouraged to play one-on-one.
“Coach Hoenes definitely cares about us as people, not us as athletes,” said Chmiel, who is studying to be a veterinarian. “We’ve been here for four years, she sees the ups and downs and sees that running is just a part of who we are, not who we are completely.”
On Saturday, as her athletes covered the 6-kilometer (3.7 miles) course in Oklahoma State, Hoenes said she mostly kept to the sidelines. Even trail running without timeouts can be overtrained, she says. She chose a place where she could give her runners the feedback they needed, and left the rest to their training.
Tuohy, the title favorite, only wanted to know one thing as she walked past her coach. “Give me the team score with 400 meters to go,” Hönesch recalls when asking Tuohy.