The “Saving the Shuffler” Sale

About the Author: Eric Cressey

Earlier this week, I introduced you to the “shuffler,” a breed of endurance athlete that seems to be everywhere in Boston this time of year.  And, skilled trapper that I am, I actually managed to catch one last night to:

a) rescue her from herself,

b) learn more about how we can diagnose and treat this shuffling epidemic in the endurance training community

c) even help charity in the process.

In fact, promising to help her out with her charitable deeds was the only way I could cajole Steph Holland-Brodney into doing this interview from the cage we keep her in at Cressey Performance.

I’m not normally this sarcastic with our clients, but Steph’s the most tenured of the bunch, having been with me since I first moved to Boston in the summer of 2006 as she prepared for her first Boston Marathon.  She’s put up with my bad jokes and stuck with me through two facility moves.  With two Boston Marathons under her belt – and one more on the horizon – it’s been interesting to watch the shift in her mindset over the past few years.

Maybe it’s been Tony’s mind-numbing techno music that’s gotten her to come to her senses.  Then again, I can’t explain how that would have happened, as that garbage drives me crazy.

Or, maybe she got a pack of carb goo that had passed its expiration date.  Nope, that can’t be it; simple sugars make people dumber, not smarter.

My hunch is that there’s a lot more to it – and that’s why I think an interview with her will tell an awesome story.  Check it out.

EC: Okay, let’s get right to the meat and potatoes.  When did you start running, and more importantly, why?

SH-B: You eat potatoes?  Sorry, I’m easily distracted.

I ran here and there through college and graduate school, but never more than three miles.  After I had my second child, I needed to lose that infamous and annoying “baby weight,” so started running again.  I bought this Oldsmobile of a double stroller and it took me longer to get them both in it than my runs took.  I was running on the morning of September 11, 2001 when my mom died as her plane was hijacked.  I wasn’t home to see any of the images live.   In many ways I am thankful for that.

Over the next few years I became more serious about my running; it was my escape.  After completing some 5k and 10k races, I decided that I wanted to tackle The Biggest Enchilada of them all (you know, to honor my Mexican heritage.)  When I saw that Boston Medical Center was a charity for the Boston Marathon, I applied immediately.  The Good Grief program at BMC helped me so much after my mother passed away.  It was a no-brainer.

EC: How has your training program changed in that time period?  What have you added? Subtracted?

SH-B:  I used to view lifting as “supplemental” and my “cardio” (yes, I was a Step Aerobics and Spinning instructor) as the core of my training.  That has totally changed.  I used to be a cardio 4x/week and lift 2x/week chick.  Now, I lift 3x a week and do cardio three times. At least one or two of those times is interval work.  I used to whine (well, I still do, but it’s definitely a more angry whine) when I had to lift heavy.  Now, I get pissed off if I don’t hit a goal.  I mean, what 5-2 marathon midget gets off on trap bar deadlifting 225?


EC: Whine?  You?  Never.  I’ll just say that there were a lot of us that were pretty relieved when you uttered these words and they became the photo-worthy quote of the year at CP :

We Saved Her!

Anyway, though, it’s been my observation that roughly 80% of those who follow the cookie-cutter marathon training program they’re given develop some sort of an overuse injury prior to the marathon.  I think the hardest part about this is that it’s impossible to really “fix” any lower extremity issue when an individual is still running with such high mileage.  You’ve had your share of aches and pains along the way; what have you’re your strategies for dealing with them, and what have they taught you?

SH-B: Marchese and Morgan torture, lower mileage, my foam roller, and a proper warm-up.  Soft tissue work is a must.  I see John Marchese and Tim Morgan every other week.  I tell them that giving birth to two kids was less painful then their treatment.  Those 45 minutes of torture though are so important. Like the CP staff, they were adamant about lowering my weekly mileage and replacing some of my runs with interval work and even some bike work.  The foam roller and I have taken our relationship to an entirely new level.  And the terms “ankle mobilization” and “glutes activation” have taken on new meaning in my life.

EC: Now, I’ve come to appreciate that we’ve turned you into a training snob.  You appreciate a good training environment, and loathe watching people do moronic stuff in the gym.  What are three things you’ve seen/heard among endurance athletes that made you want to hole them up in the Big Dig?

SH-B: So easy.  Do yoga.  Do yoga.  Do yoga.  No, wait: do hot yoga.

EC: You’re right; that was too easy.  What else you got?

SH-B:  Add more mileage, “I don’t have time to strength train,” and going carb crazy before long runs and forgetting about protein.  Brian St. Pierre has taught me a tremendous amount about carb/protein ratios and the breakdown of fat in your system.  And the importance not only of the pre-long run meal but the post run nutrition also.  If he tells me one more time about quinoa or kiwis….

EC: Speaking of good training environments, at Cressey Performance, there’s something known as the “V-Hour” – and those who train during that time period are known as the “V-Club.”  While I came up with the name, you’re undoubtedly the president and events coordinator for the group.  So, I figured you could best articulate the mission of this esteemed group of ladies.  Oh, and just what exactly does the “V’ stand for?

SH-B: Oh Eric, you just want to make a mother of two and teacher say VAGINA, don’t you?  Clarification, I’m not the president.  I am social director.  Let me just say that last night at CP, the last three clients there were ALL women.  I have trained with you for almost 3 years and that has never happened.  When I started with you I was your only female client for quite some time.  Slowly, more women started to jump in on the madness.

Let’s face it, V Club Members are versatile; we have to be.  We’re married, single, confused, all ages.  Some of us are professional athletes, some of us are endurance athletes and some of us just like to lift heavy stuff.  We must tolerate the same rotation of three CDs all of the time, having Brian yell across the crowded gym for all to hear, “Stick your ass out more,” and Tony walking around with his Tupperware full of beef, broccoli and guacamole saying things like, “Atta girl!”  And let’s not even get into you.

We’ve got to be witty and be able to dish it out.  Have good taste in music and know how to rock a pair of Seven Jeans.  We are a tiny percentage of the clientele.  We support one another in our quest for CP greatness.  And our favorite activity is of course making fun of the staff.

EC: Okay, let’s talk fund raising.  For whom are you raising money with this year’s marathon efforts?  And, how much have you raised in recent years for that cause?

SH-B:  This is my third year with Boston Medical Center.  Their mission is “exceptional care without exception.”  That pretty much sums up my mom’s mission in life.  Over the past 2 years I have raised $10,000.  This year I need to raise $3,000.  I have about $2,200 left to go.

I just have to say this.  When I was first referred to you, I saw my time with you as maybe a six-week stint.  I needed “corrective exercise.”  Never did I think that my entire philosophy on training would change – or that I’d make such great friendships.  I look more forward to my CP sessions than I do my runs.  A half hour at the track doing sprint intervals kicks my butt more than a “medium run.” You guys really have turned me into a training snob and I am so thankful for it.  Before this ends, I have one request.   Can one of the interns vacuum my cage?

EC:  I’ll see what I can do.  Thanks for taking the time; now, let’s raise some money for a great cause.

Boston Medical Center has helped loads of people like Steph, and while I think they deserve the donations regardless, I’m going to sweeten the deal.  Here’s the scoop:

Make a donation of $20 or more to BMC HERE by next Thursday, March 26 at midnight.  Then, forward your receipt to me at  In exchange, I’ll send you a coupon code for 20% off ANY purchase of:

1. Magnificent Mobility (e-manual and CEU package available)

2. Building the Efficient Athlete DVD Set (CEU package available)

3. Inside-Out (e-manual and CEU package available)

4. The Ultimate Off-Season Manual

5. The Art of the Deload

6. The Truth About Unstable Surface Training

7. The Indianapolis Performance Enhancement DVD Set (CEU package available)

8. Bulletproof Knees (CEU package available)

In your email, just let me know which product(s) you’d like to purchase.  As you can tell, if you purchased a bunch of these products at once, a simple $20 donation could save you hundreds of dollars in products.  A huge thanks go out Bill Hartman and Mike Robertson for generously agreeing to help out with this promotion.

Here’s that donation link again:

Thanks for your help in supporting this great cause!