The Ready State Virtual Mobility Coach is like having a virtual Kelly Starrett in your pocket.
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Juliet: [0:03:41] Megan Young, PhD, is a lifelong learner of optimizing for human performance, health and welfare, strategic integration of sport science, human optimization technology data systems, and leading cross-functional management to support winning organizations. With over 15 years of high-performance experience, she’s applied these areas of expertise in various roles, including strength coach and high-performance director, spanning collegiate athletics, women’s and men’s professional soccer. Coach Young ensures her coaching leverages data influenced decision making, contextual compassion, and tactical empathy. She has been fortunate to train elite U.S. and international athletes, Olympians, and World Cup champions. She is often sought after as a thought leader, speaker, and expert in the evolution of a global coaching paradigm. She is currently the performance coach at the Seattle Sounders and a director at the National Women’s Soccer League. Outside of her professional commitments, she elevates and educates in conversations of cancer, specifically leukemia awareness, as she is a current cancer survivor herself. She loves to spend her spare time doing any activity in an ocean or lake, hiking, pickleball, and reading articles that challenge her current perspective. She resides in Seattle with her dear pup Kilo and her fiancée. Enjoy our conversation with Megan Young.
Juliet: [0:05:02] Hey, Ready State listeners, if you like what you’re hearing, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes to help others find our show.
Juliet: [0:05:09] Megan, welcome to The Ready State Podcast.
Megan Young: [0:05:12] Thank you for having me. I’m so excited to be here.
Kelly: [0:05:14] Just to set the tone, I got up today and was like I need to go run the hill. I ran hill repeats today just because I was like I’m talking to Coach today and I need-
Juliet: [0:05:24] Which is a little crazy because it is randomly like a 100-degree day here, which happens rarely. But it’s hot.
Kelly: [0:05:29] And no one should ever have to go run the hill. Steep hill repeats are on the spectrum of things that you should be able to age out of, you know? And it’s not. But I was like I’m talking to Super Coach today. I’m going to go ahead and just say that I still can run a little bit. Like a fast amble.
Juliet: [0:05:45] And I’d like to further set the stage, although I told this to you beforehand, that I’m having a niacin flush so if I expire during this podcast, you’ll know that’s Kelly’s fault.
Kelly: [0:05:55] #performance gains.
Juliet: [0:05:58] Gains.
Kelly: [0:05:58] Okay. Tell us where you are right now and what your job was today because you’re coming live from your site of work. Where are you and what’s going on?
Megan Young: [0:06:07] So I am the strength coach for the Seattle Sounders in the MLS and today was a match day minus four. So we had a little training session, not too hard, not too easy. And then we had a little team lift after. And then I got to work with a couple individual guys. And that was it. And now you’re catching me live from my apartment.
Kelly: [0:06:27] Excellent. So everyone knows my family’s from Seattle. And I was living in and around Seattle, I was in Kirkland, actually, with my grandparents where they lived, had just moved home, when the Sounders were formed. And I remember my young cousin dressing up like a Seattle Super Sounder to SuperSonic. I just worked it in there. A Seattle Sounder for Halloween. And I remember being like, “Bro, you can’t just show up like… This is a brand new thing.” And he was like, “Nope. I play soccer. The Sounders are the end all.”
Juliet: [0:06:56] Well, yeah, and for those of us not from Seattle, what even is a sounder?
Kelly: [0:06:59] What is… yeah, go ahead. Let’s start there.
Megan Young: [0:07:01] Didn’t we talk about this the other day? A sounder is a person or an employee that works on the Sound.
Juliet: [0:07:06] Like in a boat?
Megan Young: [0:07:08] Like maybe Seattle has the largest number of, what is it, the highest number of ferry usage in the world and the greatest ferry system. So San Juan Islands, all those things around here, so if you’re a sounder you work either where all the big ships come into the docks or you work in the ferry system.
Kelly: [0:07:29] Now you just showed us this little, I don’t know, it’s a paperweight kind of thing. It’s a little bit rare.
Juliet: [0:07:34] Yeah, maybe you could flash that. Since we’re on video maybe you could flash it again.
Kelly: [0:07:34] Could talk about that for a second because I want to set the stage for everyone for what’s just happened for MLS American soccer.
Megan Young: [0:07:45] So here’s a little trinket I just got. And it’s very fancy. It says, Concacaf Champions League. And its color, it’s gold, I believe is the color. On the back it says Champion 2022. So I was fortunate enough to be a part of an organization and a club that just last month won the Champion’s League. So what that means is Concacaf is pretty much our continent. We are the continental champions.
Kelly: [0:08:10] Unbelievable.
Juliet: [0:08:11] Yeah, congratulations. I mean we know that’s a huge deal. Has that happened before? That championship?
Megan Young: [0:08:16] No. So this is the first time ever an American club has won, an MLS team. And the past 16 years straight a Mexican club has won. So what this means now is we qualify for Club World Cup. So we’ll go play next year against the UEFA champion and all these other teams.
Kelly: [0:08:33] If you need someone to carry your I think they’re called boots, soccer boots?
Megan Young: [0:08:38] Yes.
Kelly: [0:08:38] I am very adept at carrying boots.
Megan Young: [0:08:40] Yes. My zapatos dig football. Yeah. No problem.
Kelly: [0:08:46] Congratulations. That is amazing.
Juliet: [0:08:47] Yeah. I mean that is really so cool. Tell us what that was like for you as a coach because I know you told us beforehand this is your first championship you’ve won working for a club. And what of all the voodoo things came together to make this happen?
Megan Young: [0:09:02] I think it’s super special for a couple reasons. One, because it’s outside of your regular MLS schedule. And it’s also very unique to win a tournament so early in the MLS year. So we’re only in like the middle of MLS season now. But coming into the start of the year we had already qualified due to our position last year for this tournament. So we started off with our guys having to play a game in El Salvador or in Honduras, and then we had to play in Mexico. And so if you’ve never been to a football game in a stadium in Mexico, it is just different level noise. So they played at Azteca in front of all these fans. And I remember my coaching staff said, “I’ve never heard a stadium so loud.”
Kelly: [0:09:44] Wow.
Megan Young: [0:09:45] And so then we got to host the final leg. So in a final, it’s not really one game, it’s home and away. So we played away first. And it was a tie result there. So coming home, we felt really good about our odds. We played really well. And so we ended up winning in front of a packed crowd. I think it was close to 69,000 people in Lumen Field. And that’s just like one of the most rare things I will be able to cherish was not, yes, winning and everything, but just the whole day, the whole moment. Bringing something like that to a city that loves soccer so much and then bringing it to the Americans and saying, hey, we’re here as a club now winning championships and getting worldwide recognition, not just some fandom in this grassroots movement of 1974 Seattle Sounders. So I’m so happy for the club because this is a special club. I’ve been a part of a lot of different types of organizations and I can say that this is the most unique in terms of how the locker room is, how the front office is, and truly the fan engagement with the players is special. So I’m so grateful.
Kelly: [0:10:52] Well, first of all, congratulations, because-
Juliet: [0:10:55] So awesome.
Kelly: [0:10:56] Having had the chance to go around and work in so many different sports, to win a championship or a tournament league championship is bananas. I don’t even know how it’s done these days. The competition, travel, demand, are amazing. What do you think makes… You said that culture is special. We’re talking more and more, I don’t know if this is a phenomenon, a natural phenomenon where we have all the biometric tracking we need, we have all the GPS. You probably have enough strength and conditioning skills and nutritional interventions, your tips as an expert. So what’s left is culture. What’s left is getting people to belong to each other. And if everyone’s watched Ted Lasso, I mean it’s sort of meta, sort of joking about it, but it really is difficult to create a team that goes out and then clears all the other stuff out of the way so that people can be extraordinary. What do you think? Is it just luck? Or are there just things in the organization that you think this points to this? Because we’d like to just have people be able to take that back to their own organizations and families.
Megan Young: [0:12:02] Yeah. For sure. I think, yeah, you have to have all of these big boxes checked off first. Your strength and conditioning has to be on point. Your on-field periodization and even the relationships between that technical staff, those coaches and entrusting whatever their performance side and medical side are saying. Those relationships have to be solid in terms of respect and belief because you can go out and do it, someone is directing, but if you don’t actually believe that’s best, I think that will come up later. And I think that we just have very good people. Some of the people in this organization have been here a long time. And that’s unique in sport. I remember I was at Auburn 12 years and people were like, “Well, she’s going to retire there.” I was not even 30. It’s like-
Juliet: [0:12:51] Yeah, you’re like, retirement?
Megan Young: [0:12:52] Yeah, exactly. I’m like, “Guys, I’m just starting out.” So I think that there’s this, oh, you have to move on and do things so that when you can actually have some semblance of carryover from year to year to year and you get that within a group of players and a group of staff, I think that already sets a lot of tone for culture because there’s familiarity on both sides. And that’s really hard to keep within pro sports because of the nature of the job. The other side of that is we have players from all over, so many different countries, Uruguay, Ecuador, American, and how do you find commonalities there? Well, what I see with these players is a pure love of the game. And nowadays in college, there’s a lot of different things there and kids are still determining did I love this game or did I use it as a platform to get into school or do something else? And I’ve never been around a group of guys that talked football so much. Football and Wordle, that’s what matters in the club, you know? It’s like can you solve the Wordle or the Quordle, which is like eight of them in a row. And let’s talk about football. That’s it.
Kelly: [0:14:00] That’s all there is.
Juliet: [0:14:01] So I wanted to ask because I read somewhere that you really like to make data driven decisions or that your programming and the work you do is all sort of data related. But tell us a little bit more about that. What does that mean and what does that actually look like in your day to day working with players?
Megan Young: [0:14:17] For sure.
Kelly: [0:14:18] And let me just set that up for people because we have a lot of people who are, let’s just say we’re dilatants, we like to flirt around, we track our sleep. I think I’m kind of good at strength and conditioning. But that’s very different from programming and making decisions for people who are going to practice and play sports.
Megan Young: [0:14:36] Yeah. You know, I think still the one thing that’s still common is what’s the injury history? That’s still the best data to start from. What has happened in someone’s past and whether it’s injury or success and anthropometric age, biological age, and lifting age. Those are the data points to start with for me. Everything else will come after that, whether it’s normal screening, whether we’re looking at force plate data, doesn’t matter. All of those things are secondary to let me start with the person.
And so the first thing I like to do with players, and I’ll just sit down with them, I’m like, “Tell me your story.” And I just let them, some people go directly to playing, some people go directly to, “Well, I started playing when I was four. And I’m from here.” Some people talk about their family. I kind of let that decide how I’m going to leave the conversation. But I’m going to end up getting the data points I need to kind of facilitate into, okay, where are we going to get going.
Another thing is I don’t run a lab. I don’t want players to come in and be like, oh, I’m doing this testing thing, this testing thing. You get one opportunity for a first impact and a first touchpoint. And so my first day on the job here set the tone, was October 11. The day before I was on the field with my former club, the Chicago Red Stars, playing the Seattle women’s team. So then next day, change the kit, here I am, I’m in this new club. And so I end up working with a player that was in a little bit of a return to play stage. I know kind of what’s happened, the injury, but I don’t know anything that was happening to him so I just started talking to him while he was doing his low-level conditioning and that kind of led to this. And that so that first impact wasn’t me telling him what I already know; it was me listening.
And that’s probably my biggest piece of advice from data driven decisions, is you can have all this data telling you one thing; you still have to listen to the person in front of you. And on the flip side of that, at Chicago, my role was the high-performance director. So that’s like on field periodization, the lifting, the nutrition, everything. Part of that is resources in the NWSL aren’t quite to the MSL yet, so just number of people. And that was a lot more of how am I helping take care of players going in to play for World Cups and Olympic cycles and international camps and managing those profiles and saying, where does that fit into our match schedule and then how am I almost making sure our periodization matches to be at this intensity level even though we’re training here? So there’s a lot of details in the minutia of GPS information. And then readiness profiling information and then what are you doing on a weekly measure. And then wellness. I still love a wellness questionnaire. And a questionnaire can be me asking you in person, “How are you doing today?” “Come estas? Que pasa?” Or it can be on the phone through an AMS platform and you’re telling me before you come in so I’m already making more appropriate plans of what we’re going to do maybe for some movement and mobility to get you going on the field that day.
Kelly: [0:17:39] That’s amazing. And just really hints at the dark arts when communication and interpersonal relationship and media feedback of where people are today based on training, what our friend Ben Ashford calls session cost, people’s families, the dynamics. You’re teaching a person or working with a person today, trying to maximize the stimulus and have them be ready. We’ve talked to a lot of coaches, I know a lot of coaches who worked in professional sports, and then actually went back to college sports because they felt like in the professional system sometimes they couldn’t have the access or the time or the impact that they could in college. Have you found that being in a professional situation is different than being at a big, gigantic university and sort of having more time and hands on with a player and human development?
Megan Young: [0:18:31] I think that is probably a two-pronged answer. In college you have the resources of an athletic department which is probably more than most clubs unless you’re talking NFL or NBA. But then you also have this thing called a college campus. So in that college campus at Auburn, I was fortunate, I worked with a biomechanical engineering department. And then all of a sudden, we have motion capture and two PhDs working on force plate foot analysis because I’m obsessed with the foot and looking at that for soccer players.
Kelly: [0:19:04] So say we all.
Megan Young: [0:19:05] So say we all. Yes. And that is a whole different resource allocation. And working with a med school to apply for grant funding to get technology that maybe women’s soccer couldn’t afford. On the pro side of things, well, I have some 16-year-olds on my team, they’re in school still. That’s a different thing. But not having the compliance regulations around time, I don’t miss. I don’t miss having to negotiate for the effectiveness of what should be a priority at certain points of the year. Because time, yes, every person’s time is valuable. In college, I don’t think the athletes always get to choose their best scheduled time due to academics and other things like that, because otherwise, why would we have athletes getting up at 6 a.m. in college while they’re still developing? I don’t know.
Kelly: [0:20:00] As a 48-year-old man, I agree. Why am I getting up at 6 a.m.?
Juliet: [0:20:04] Matt Walker is choosing you right now. He’s the sleep guy.
Kelly: [0:20:08] So JStar and I are heading out to England day after tomorrow. We’re going to watch a premier team, England National Soccer team is playing Wolverhampton and the Wolff Stadium.? We’re going to go visit our friend, Ben Rosenblatt, shoutout. And we’ve been trying to support Ben because we work with a lot of coaches. You are an expert. It’s super fun to interact with the players, but really where we love is hanging out with the coaches. And we feel like you make the biggest impacts there. Ben has said that he’s seen this evolution of professional footballer. And when I say that, everyone, I’m talking about soccer. American soccer.
Megan Young: [0:20:46] Soccer.
Kelly: [0:20:47] He said that these kids have come up and now have a training age that they’ve lifted weights, they’re interested in nutrition. They get that it’s about durability and it’s even about money. And they’re starting to really push the professional staff to grow, to be better. And they’re not just these 21-year-old British millionaires who are just floppers. That era is really starting to go away, he feels like. Have you felt the same thing in professionalization of the footballer? It’s not like, well, we did this in the 60s because this is what we’ve always done and I don’t lift weights because it makes me bulky. I mean have you seen this change happen the way he’s seen it happen?
Megan Young: [0:21:26] Yeah. I think it follows the same trend line as fitness outside of sport. How many people now have a gym they go to, where 20 years ago that wasn’t a thing? It was just us in Gold’s Gyms taking our Jack3d. Now it’s everyone is seeking some type of, one, community, and two, understanding how important it is just to move your body, whether that’s at home on a screen with someone coaching you or on a screen in person. I think that trend line has gone the same with biometric data and technology in general. So now that more people are already asking questions about their sleep. Ten years ago, I didn’t work with any CEOs that were like, “So, when I looked at my sleep score last night.” And now people are asking those questions themselves. So I think everything is trended that way so absolutely the footballer has also done that.
And then I will say in the women’s game, a lot of the women come out of the college system. College has advanced so much in terms of the technology use that’s there, GPS, sleep, other biometric data, movement analysis, force plates, all those things, to where that’s now normal. Whereas players that have been in the league 10 years ago, they got chocolate milk when they were in college. So they’re like, “What do you mean I need to do all these things, pretraining?” So there’s so much education for the longer term pro because it’s not coming up with them, it’s now they’re catching up to it. Within the men’s side though because they go through more of the academy system, some go to college but through the academy system, well, its’ trickling down from the first team. So whatever’s happening within that first team as probably happening within that some level academy system. So players are used to, a, I’m going to fill out a questionnaire probably and probably going to have to do some type of movement, I’m probably going to have to tell somebody how I feel, and I’m probably going to have to eat something. Now becomes a better question in the evolution of conversation from a 12-year-old to a 20-year-old.
Juliet: [0:23:23] I’m not going to ask this question articulately because I’m not sure how. I am really interested in talking more with you about soccer and American soccer and how kids are rolled into it. I know, it seems to me anyway, at least for American women, they still go to college and then become professional after college. And then it seems like with the men, it’s sort of a hybrid. Some go to college and some go through academies. Is that true even for talented American male players? Are they going to academies? Or is that more international? And then I guess my sub-question to this is, is the sport finally growing in America, because I’ve always felt like it should and it’s still amazing. We have two little kids and they’ve never been into soccer, but nevertheless, little kid soccer and soccer’s still a huge deal. And so it always surprises me that it just, it hasn’t grown more professionally as a sport. I mean I think it has in recent years. and obviously, the women have been slaying all day, which has helped a lot. But yeah, talk to us a little bit about the logistics and sort of what you’re seeing in the sport and where you hope it goes.
Megan Young: [0:24:30] So one, I think when you talk about the sport, you look at first the player compensation. That’s how you really see the growth of a profession. Is it a profession? Can you, do you have to have a side hustle to do this? Well, then, that’s not a full-time job. And in the NWSL now, they are making so many strides and adding other clubs. San Diego and LA are new this year.
Kelly: [0:24:52] Yep.
Juliet: [0:24:53] So awesome.
Megan Young: [0:24:54] Yeah. Amazing. And then you’re also seeing more investment in the player side of things. So it’s not just we’re giving you a stipend and we’re providing you housing. We’re putting you in appropriate housing, we’re providing you an appropriate stipend. We’re providing nutrition on a higher level and different things like that. So I think all those things are still the big buckets that players are seeing growth in. As you start to add more teams and they negotiate CBAs and things like this, I mean shoutout to the U.S. Women’s National Team on their equal pay agreement and moving forward with that. That’s amazing. Because that’s going to only set the precedent for NWSL to keep pushing until they’re closer to that MLS. And the MLS side of growth, you look at the new clubs and how they’re doing, Nashville, recent club, Cincinnati’s a recent club, Charlotte’s a first-year club. So the growth of the MLS is quite amazing to me, how fast it grew, even through COVID. And I think that you’re seeing Charlotte was a sellout in their first game. That’s amazing, to fill out Bank of America.
When we’re talking stadiums, summer soccer specific, where 30,000 is maximum, but some aren’t. We play at Lumen. That’s where the Seahawks play. That’s 68,000, 69,000 capacity. To be able to sell out and have high annual sales, that’s only going to trickle out to what we can do. The other side of that is there’s a big difference in the men’s and women’s side. You talk about the women players go to college but then they have a decision to make still because it’s like unless I’m a national team, international level player, I can make okay money. But maybe I was really smart and I’m going to go on to law school or I’m going to become a doctor. So they still have a decision to make. And I would love to see where there’s either a world where it’s easier to do both or to where you’re paid enough to be able to make that decision of, I’ll do this later.
Kelly: [0:26:45] That seems very reasonable.
Megan Young: [0:26:45] Yeah. It’s very reasonable.
Kelly: [0:26:48] Considering the decades it takes to become good.
Megan Young: [0:26:52] I’ve worked with players, my youngest player now is 16, well, 15. And the oldest player I’ve worked with, or most veteran, as I would call them, is in their mid to late 30s. We won’t even put an actual number on it. And so it’s fascinating to have a 20 year gap in the players you work with on a daily basis because that’s a big conversation difference in what we’re talking about.
Kelly: [0:27:14] You’re handing out like here’s Mountain Dew for you and here is like Metamucil for you, right? I understand where you’re coming from with that. Lisa is dying right now.
Megan Young: [0:27:22] Exactly. You can have a cupcake; you can have an acai bowl, you know? It’s fascinating but at the same time, the way men’s teams, in case you don’t know, selling tickets is one revenue source, but selling players is a much bigger one. So that’s why there are these academy systems because yes, you want to develop players and have homegrown players like Christian and Jordan that play on our team, but you also want to be able to sell players out to other clubs. So winning bigger tournaments like getting your names on world stages hopefully brings recognition to where it’s easier to do those things. And you asked about U.S. Women’s National team. Well, there’s a lot of players that maybe have dual citizenship and they had to decide to play for the U.S. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t raised somewhere else, like a Kobe Bryant who spent time in Europe and then came back over here and played. So I think there’s a lot of different… Football’s a world’s game, so where do you play it in the world versus where do you decide to play internationally in club can be very different.
Kelly: [0:28:22] You have been a head performance coach at an organization. As you describe, it’s so many things. I know a lot of friends who start in strength and conditioning, that piece, move up to… Because they really realize that performance coach can see a little bit more, depending on the size of the organization and the depth. Do you feel like, one, that there’s a lot more Venn diagram overlap between the roles of biometrics and strength and conditioning and nutrition and sort of keeping an eye on readiness and physio? I mean how do you all manage that? There’s a team that has recently been very successful, and this is, I don’t know, seven or eight years ago, I was over there, and I was brokering like a peace treaty between the strength and conditioning and the physio staff. Like who owns what and how. And there was a turf war and it was really interrupting the efficacy of… The team has worked it out and been very good. This was in rugby. But how do you all manage that at that level because there’s a lot of moving parts to be able to clear everything out of the way so that these players can just do their job and be great.
Megan Young: [0:29:29] That happens in college too, right? Sports medicine, physios, PTs, docs, athletic trainers within sports medicine. Then you have performance coaches, sports scientists, sports psychology, sports nutrition. It can become a bit of a turf war of who’s getting to decide what these 20 minutes are about, you know? And so I try to bring a little humor to everything. Like, “We’re talking about 20 minutes, guys. There’s way more things that matter.” So it comes back to that holistic human. These are still humans we’re dealing with. You guys figure out who wants to win the 20-minute battle. Then I’ll go talk to them about tomorrow. I’d say within the current organization, when you have less people, you have to have really good relationships. The relationship that I have with my athletic trainer at Chicago, Emily Fortunato, she is hands down one of the best I’ve ever been able to work with, but also, we had one of the best relationships. So those things go hand in hand.
Kelly: [0:30:25] Shoutout anonymous AT. You’re getting a shoutout right now.
Megan Young: [0:30:28] Yeah. She’s a World Cup Champion. So I think at the end of the day, what are those foundational relationships like? Because if it’s a bad relationship, yes, you can work around that and just be professional, but it’s not nearly as easy. On the hard days where things don’t go right or there is an injury and you’re going to have to sit down and really have hard conversations, it’s so much easier to do with someone that you actually care about.
Kelly: [0:30:50] I love that.
Megan Young: [0:30:51] So I always try to start from that basis. And then on the other side of it is where is the player at. I love kind of that control to chaos continuum. Was that Matt Taberner? Return to play. So there’s like, oh, you have return to training, then you have return to play, then you have return to competition. That’s always just made… I like logical frameworks and systems. That just makes sense to me. So it probably makes sense to me that early on after some type of surgery or something like that, you’re probably working with a physio; probably going to do stuff with them. So maybe I’ll talk about what I can do with the other part of their body or in conjunction with.
And so it just becomes a natural conversation of who needs to have the most say so and what the priority is and then how are we filing out the accessory. And I haven’t had issues and I think that we have a really good group here in terms of those conversations. And you also have to know what isn’t my role. My job here is not to download the GPS and say what the data shows, so I don’t do that. I did that in my old job. It means that I get to have more time. Actually, I’ve fallen back in love more so with strength and conditioning here and in Chicago than I had probably five years ago in Auburn and that’s just the evolution of cycles. I got a master’s in information systems data science. I was down the street, nerd hole. And I got to live in that world. Well, now I get to live over here in this physical world interacting more on the day to day and really driving some of our nutritional interventions and some of our strength and conditioning, and I love it. Those are the conversations that we have. No problem.
Juliet: [0:32:28] So two quick things. First of all, you’re speaking Kelly’s language by using the word physio because I don’t know if you know, but one of his greatest sadnesses in life is that the name of his profession is physical therapist, which is like so sad.
Kelly: [0:32:41] Performance therapy, baby. Performance therapy.
Juliet: [0:32:42] Yeah. And so just shoutout for saying physio. He heard you and was excited.
Kelly: [0:32:46] It is the international term.
Juliet: [0:32:47] Yeah, no, I know it’s the international term but here you’re technically a physical therapist.
Kelly: [0:32:51] No, I’m not. No, I’m not.
Juliet: [0:32:51] Which is like a sad, sad-
Kelly: [0:32:52] No, I’m not. Don’t put that on me. Don’t put that hate on me.
Juliet: [0:32:53] Well, it’s in your bio.
Megan Young: [0:32:55] Ooh. Hit you with the bio. Ooh, burn. Sick burn.
Juliet: [0:32:59] Ooh. Okay. So one question I have that’s sort of near and dear to my heart because we have two teenagers who are athletes that play water sports.
Kelly: [0:33:07] Contact water ball.
Juliet: [0:33:08] Contact water ball.
Kelly: [0:33:09] Water polo.
Juliet: [0:33:09] But this is sort of going back to your time at Auburn because I know you were working, I think, if I’m correct, with women’s basketball. But over the years, what did you see in terms of the readiness of high school athletes coming into college from a strength and conditioning standpoint?
Kelly: [0:33:21] Oh, this is Juliet’s-
Juliet: [0:33:23] Has it improved?
Kelly: [0:33:25] Bugabear.
Juliet: [0:33:26] Yeah. I’m obsessed. Especially because in swimming, I mean I do think there’s some high school sports besides football, actual American football, that have adopted some high school level strength and conditioning. But by and large, there’s none for most sports. And I will say that our kids are lucky enough to have two high school coaches who are into strength and conditioning and do it.
Kelly: [0:33:49] And let me set this up. The number of conversations where people kind of figure out who Juliet and I are, come up to us at meets and events, and they’re like, “Hey, my kid’s being scouted.”
Juliet: [0:33:58] What’s a snatch?
Kelly: [0:33:59] What’s a power clean? Can you teach us how to front squat? I’m like, oh boy, you’re going to have to know that in like three minutes. So don’t worry.
Juliet: [0:34:04] Yeah. And then the other flip side of that is coaches or people saying, “I mean a swimmer’s body just needs to be long and lean, so swimmers don’t need to lift.” You know, there’s just a lot of kind of kooky stuff that’s happening and so seems like maybe-
Kelly: [0:34:18] Have a recovery cigarette, kid.
Juliet: [0:34:19] Youth sports might be slightly evolving, but in many ways youth sports have gotten so aggressive and kids are training like professional athletes in terms of the volume. Anyway, so I just was curious, going way back in time to your time at Auburn, what you saw from an evolutionary standpoint, what you saw in terms of how ready kids were coming, and whether they had really had any strength and conditioning.
Megan Young: [0:34:41] So I’d say this used to be the spectrum of the athlete that came in. Everyone either did nothing or did something. And now it’s increased, like here’s the continuum of that spectrum, where it’s like you have these highly evolved little people that enter at 16, 17, 18 years old, and going to college, been told to sleep eight hours, ten hours, eat, and they’re just as regimented. And you’re like, well, there’s less education needed here. And then you have more even this side where it’s like I don’t do anything; I just was good at my sport and I played that occasionally. So I think that we saw that increase in terms of the difference of that spread. So that made team sport a lot harder to train.
If everyone’s coming in here where the training ages were somewhat more condensed and it’s like, yeah, we had strength and conditioning as a class and we did plyos for 45 minutes. Or we did lifting and netball circuits. Okay, we did nothing. No problem. We can start at a similar place where now we have to have probably a better scope of how you’re going to start people with broader training ages and having that conversation. That is definitely something I saw. And to the advantage and disadvantage. Some of the basketball players and soccer players that came in, they knew how to already be strong. And I used to get asked all the time on recruiting trips, “Well, what do they need to be able to do?” I’m like, “If you can squat and lunge without pain and you can do a pushup and you can do inverted rows as a female soccer player or a men’s soccer player or a women’s basketball player, coming in with me you have a great foundation on which to start.”
Kelly: [0:36:22] Wow, we don’t really set the bar high. You can air squat without pain. Go us. You know, it’s interesting you say that. I remember talking to an NFL coach who’s like, “You know what the problem is, all these kids are so beat up from college.” And I was like, ew, these college coaches. And then talking to college coaches, and they say, “The problem is 22 out of my 24 All Americans had knee pain doing an air squat.” I’m like, oh, those high school coaches. And then at some point you’re like, where does it start. It’s actually one of the rationales for why Juliet and I love to work in high performance still, because we know that when we can change or improve an organization at the top, we see that trickledown effect. It changes colleges, how they train, what’s expected. And we see how those… There’s no better example than the All Blacks. What Nic Gill does with his strength and conditioning staff, his crew, it influences those kids, how they eat, how they train, all the way through. It’s pretty bananas. Sometimes I feel like it’s a glacial pace. That’s how long it takes to makes change. And maybe… Do you agree with me there? It’s just like we’re going as fast as we can?
Megan Young: [0:37:23] Yeah. I agree. I remember ordering my first yoga tune-up kit in 2012 when it came with the iPad PDF that I would scroll through, and along with my original Supple Leopard book, and I was like kaboom. And it was like mobility has to be a practice within strength. And I think that that was a conversation that if you were doing mobility, it was like why are we cooling down. That was for a long time the precedent of how do we help people see this as performance and not as a recovery modality. And that is hard to change when you have those only 20 minutes.
Kelly: [0:38:05] That’s right.
Megan Young: [0:38:06] So within women’s basketball, simple way, I just find it fascinating that most people don’t or didn’t back then address the feet and ankles of basketball players. They spend all this time wedging their little frog feet into their shoes and creating little fins. So when they had their protein shake, after they came off and were sitting in the weight room drinking their protein shake, just have them sit there and roll their foot out. And that’s how we started. I was like, here. You just had to find little ways. And it’s so frustrating to have to build it one percent by one percent because you have to be the one every day pushing that. otherwise, it’s just not going to happen. But you can make that change. That’s kind of what you’re talking about, is if there’s enough people making that one percent change at a high school, at an academy, at a pro team, to where it’s trickled into everywhere, now it’s normal to do activation or warmup, where it used to be, oh, I don’t need.
Kelly: [0:39:04] I come pre-stretched, coach.
Juliet: [0:39:06] It’s actually cool to hear that though, that even on a college or professional level, you’re just trying to sneak it in because I think that’s one of the messages we’re always trying to tell people, especially when it comes to adding a mobility practice to their lives. And we’re writing this book called Built to Move and that’s one of the messages we’re really trying to send out, is hey, man, you don’t have to add a whole hour to your life and reserve it for your mobility practice, right? You can sneak it in while you’re rolling your foot at your desk or at the locker room after practice or whatever. We’re just trying to do that thing where we’re like, hey, this does not have to rule your life or take over your training or be a fulltime side job. You’ve just got to sneak it in. So it’s cool to hear you doing that with high-level athletes.
Kelly: [0:39:45] A lot of teams I’ve talked to have Normatec boots in the film room. I’m like, well, why don’t you just get on the Normatec while you’re just hanging out watching movies anyway, right? Easy.
Megan Young: [0:39:56] I call my partner a desk athlete.
Kelly: [0:39:59] For sure they are.
Megan Young: [0:40:00] She’s a bigger nerd than I am and she’s amazing and way smarter than me. So good job me. But for her, it’s like-
Kelly: [0:40:07] I resemble that.
Megan Young: [0:40:08] Yeah. I resemble that. I’ve created a five minute and a three minute protocol for her to do when her timer goes off to reset some visual work and do a little bit of movement so that she wasn’t just sitting for eight hours a day. And she was like, “Oh, I feel good when I do this and I feel like I can see better.” I’m like, great, thanks for validating 700 years of evolution.
Juliet: [0:40:32] My entire life’s work. That’s really funny. Desk athlete.
Kelly: [0:40:36] You know, hon, it’s almost like this shit works.
Megan Young: [0:40:38] Yeah. So what you’re saying though is building that in, I think there’s a great amount of athletes to train and so much to do, but I also have a passion for making every person feel like they deserve the same optimization of an athlete. There’s nothing that I do with a pro that I wouldn’t say can transfer to a normal human to enhance their life. So making that more accessible and you’re seeing that within the fitness industry, I’d love to see that within our coaching industry, to where coaches become a daily part of your life instead of something you have to go and just seek out at a gym.
Kelly: [0:41:14] Let me go further and say that one of the reasons I think professional sports is really important, more important now more than ever in terms of binding us globally and reminding communities that they actually have common purpose and common cause and everyone can go see a game. But for those of us who are working in and around professional sports, it’s the ultimate laboratory where we can sort of understand what high pressure, sleep deprivation, weird food, all of those things. And actually, we can take those lessons and transform society with it, which is ultimately the highest calling of science. But if everyone viewed and looked at professional sports through that lens, that the reason we understand these things is because if you don’t do them, you can’t win. That really makes it super easy. And they’re going to be like, well, sign me up for that barefoot walking or those eye drills.
Megan Young: [0:42:06] Exactly.
Kelly: [0:42:07] What’s good for the goose turns out to be very good for the gander.
Megan Young: [0:42:09] Yeah. The one percent change for someone that’s already an outlier is probably a 30 percent change for someone that’s a norm. And I think that having those conversations are amazing. I love it.
Kelly: [0:42:19] I like beginner gains.
Juliet: [0:42:20] Beginner gains. So I just want to change directions a little bit and ask a little bit about you as a person. And there are quite a few things that jumped out to me in your background, but I wanted to start by saying or asking a little bit about I know you have an athletic background as a hammer thrower, which is really cool, and I think other throwing related sports. So I was hoping you could tell us a little bit about that. And then my sub-question is, it’s more a comment, but I think you have the most degrees and certifications after your name of any guest we’ve had, and I just, I’m virtually high-tenning you right now, because it was awesome.
Kelly: [0:42:55] And I want to put a filter on the question about your athletic background. Is that or was that important to you understanding the demands of working with people who are using their bodies to make a living?
Megan Young: [0:43:06] Yeah. I mean since I was four years old, I was going to be a lawyer. So I think it was pretty important that I was an athlete. And the only reason I became a thrower, I grew up in martial arts, softball, and basketball. So the only reason I even became a thrower was my health teacher my sophomore year of high school was the head track coach. And I’m a straight A type personality.
Kelly: [0:43:29] That’s clear.
Juliet: [0:43:30] Hence all the degrees. Hence the degrees.
Megan Young: [0:43:32] Subtle hint. He said, “I won’t give you an A.” He threatened me. You could do this. It was the 90s. It was the early 2000s. “I won’t give you an A in health unless you come try.” And I was like, oh, I guess I’ve got to go try. I tried. It was an actual meet and I threw the shotput and I won. And I was like beginner gains. I was good. And so it was like, well, this is something I can do. So I started throwing shot and disc in high school. I went to a meet my senior year. I got recruited by a couple of teams. I walked foot on the Wilmington campus and I was like, this is where I’m going. I knew it the moment I got there. I don’t know if it was the beach. It may have been being a mile away or just the vibe, but I’ve had probably six pivotal moments in my life where I’ve just trusted my gut on my instinct, and they’ve never been wrong. So I’m going to keep going with that. And I learned how to throw a hammer my sophomore year. Discus was my best event.
But I enjoyed it, the challenge of learning how to throw the hammer and eventually become a rotational shot thrower as well. And that was a cool time in throwing because that’s when the glide was really phasing out and there was more rotational shot throwers coming into the game. And throwing’s just an amazing sport to watch. And my strength coach, the second week of training with him, he looks at me and he goes, “You’re going to be a strength coach.” You’re right. Changed my program, go into exercise science and then I was like, well, I’m probably going to need a little bit more about this. And at that time, back in 2007, there were only like five programs in the world that were ex phys that weren’t laboratory based. And one of them was bailor, one was Auburn, and I think the other three were Australia and New Zealand. And so I decided I went to Baylor and taught classes and got to work with all the athletic teams there. And I was like, all right, well, our football team transitioned six months in. and so I worked with a really younger staff. I said I need to work for an older strength coach now that is more known within the field to help me kind of grow my career. And there was a professional internship, aka $800 a month, offered to me from Auburn University, and I jumped on it.
Kelly: [0:45:47] Killing it. What did you do? Did you have a whole extra room for that, that pile of cash in there? You just jumped in there like Scrooge?
Megan Young: [0:45:54] Yeah. I just jumped, swam in it like Donald Duck. So yeah, I went to Auburn and the next year they offered me a full-time job. And it was my dream growing up in Durham, North Carolina, that’s basketball country, I was like, obviously I want to work in basketball. And I thought that was my dream. Here I am my first full-time job, I’m working with a gold medal winning basketball coach and I’m in SEC basketball. And I’m like, well, now what? And had to kind of re-shift. And I was given women’s soccer as my first team at Auburn. And I fell in love with the game. And due to my $800 a month, the assistant soccer coach made me move in because he heard I was living in an apartment I found on Craigslist and I didn’t even have furniture. Typical horror story. It’s like I had an air mattress, I’m good, bro. And so I moved in with him, and all we did was watch soccer, football, and he taught me the game. To fall in love with the game in your 20s and not have the bias of your playing experience, I think is super special. So yeah, I’ve been in the game since then. And I can’t imagine not having some form of this game involved in my life.
Kelly: [0:47:05] One of the things that I feel in my professional experience has been really useful is that I get exposed to everyone’s dirty laundry. I am a total professional dilatant. I call myself the super tourist where I’m like, oh, I’m hanging out with soccer players, and now I’m hanging out with football players. And literally, everyone shows me all the problems they have and all the systems. And because I get to go see so much and so many different sports at so many different levels, it really gives me insight and where I can see patterns. Do you feel like if you hadn’t had some of those diverse experiences coaching other sports and being around other systems you would be missing something or do you think it’s not necessary? Because a lot of people are like, I want to coach soccer, I’m coaching soccer, soccer’s my life.
Megan Young: [0:47:51] Yeah, I mean I think every human I’ve worked with has impacted my path in some regard. And thank goodness that I’ve worked with so many different types of people from whether it’s socioeconomic backgrounds, whether it’s gender identification, whether it’s sport, all of those things impact how you interact with others. And for me to have this diverse portfolio of my first job with football was working with the injured guys. Those are the people that the other staff had the hardest time with. I was the only female. Most of them came from a single mother home. Guess who they respected a heck of a lot more? The female. And never had a problem. So I think that had I not done that, I wouldn’t have been in the position to connect so well with a lot of my Latin players now. And how do I speak to their culture and help them feel more comfortable and accept who they are and try and bridge that gap of us as people, and now let me be the coach.
Kelly: [0:48:53] Where do you think there are still stones to be looked under? Where is the gold hidden? Is there still gold hidden in performance athletics? Like if you can simultaneously talk to the young kid coming through to better prepare them, if you can talk to other coaches or look around, what are you excited about where you feel like, man, there’s a lot of slack in this aspect of the system?
Megan Young: [0:49:15] Yeah. I would say Dr. Huberman’s doing a lot of really good work on how do you take neuroscience and make it educational and informative. I think that what we know about the brain and how much that has come into play over even the past eight years and what we can do to operate within higher level systems of the body, specifically the visual and vestibular system is still something… It’s kind of like the mobility of the 2020’s, you know? We know that we need to do and we know that we need to spend more intentional time on it, but who really is prioritizing it and knowing how to test, retest, and show progress in it, that this is a missing piece? I think that that within most performance places is still not a thing yet.
Kelly: [0:49:59] I remember reading David Epstein’s book The Sports Gene and him talking about the density of I think cones for being able to spot the best people with the best vision could actually see better, much less some of these other aspects of the things you’re talking about. It reminds me of a conversation we just had with our friend who works at Outside Magazine and he says that some of the research around the new kids coming up is that they’re around in science so much, even if they play sports, and they’re on tech so much that they’re vision is actually going. And we’re having to program some of these visual kinesthetic exercises for even more because kids aren’t playing outside, they’re not catching a million different balls, they’re not swinging on trees, not looking at things outside, and are missing some of that input. So now we’re really having to go back and make sure we don’t miss that.
Megan Young: [0:50:51] Yeah. I mean there’s six ocular muscles of the eye so it can be trained. And so if you’re saying all you do is feet forward into convergence all day, divergence is probably going to be hard. And all of a sudden, you’re going to have trouble with the in between of going back and forth. So we think you have that poor depth perception but really, your eyes aren’t diverging or they’re not diverging at the same rate. And Rachel Balkovec could probably speak to some of this too. I think she’s probably obsessed with eyes as she went through herself here with Driveline.
Kelly: [0:51:19] I wasn’t going to drag her into this conversation, but Rachel for sure is a super nerd. In fact, today, shoutout to best parent in the world, I’m like, hey, Caroline just got JL qualifiers, she’s the goalie. And we’re going to put the Senaptec goggles on her this afternoon just to get her spun up, just to make her sharper and throw balls at her a little bit. And it’s something that we just pay attention to because it’s so easy to do.
Megan Young: [0:51:41] Yeah. And isn’t it cool, okay, this might be a nerd comment cool, to play around with the nervous system and see what happens? Throw you in cold, get one response. Throw you in hot, get another response. Give you red light, get one response. Give you bioneuro beats, get another response. So I think that when we talk about performance but also just human optimization, I think we’ll eventually get to a space where you walk in a recovery room, it’s zoned to hit you at a certain rate because we already know your nervous system has shifted slightly more parasympathetic or sympathetic. And we’re going to get you right back in that sweet spot of what we want. So it’s less of just using an omega wave to stay where you are, but now we know which tools to kind of operate that nervous system and send whatever signal reaches you best. And I think sound is still really interesting, music and bioneural beats we can talk about separately.
Kelly: [0:52:31] Do it, J. Say it.
Juliet: [0:52:32] Yeah, well we had our friend Dan Clark of Brain.fm on the podcast and obviously he talks a lot about that and that’s his passion.
Kelly: [0:52:38] Functional music.
Juliet: [0:52:39] Functional music is super interesting.
Kelly: [0:52:40] And Caroline is into functional music. She loves it. I love it.
Juliet: [0:52:42] Okay, so I still have a few more personal questions but I’m going to ask a side question. We had Dr. Julie Foucher on our podcast recently and she’s doing a lot of awesome work with her company Wild Health. And I asked her, “What actually can you test from a genetic standpoint these days that’s actually actionable and useful?” And one of the things she said is actually injury risk. I was wondering-
Kelly: [0:53:04] Some markers.
Juliet: [0:53:05] Some markers.
Kelly: [0:53:05] Propensity.
Juliet: [0:53:06] It’s still extremely early. But I’m wondering either in college or now that you’re in professional sports, is there genetic testing and is it being used or is that sort of, it’s a little far out?
Kelly: [0:53:18] Or have all the players who’ve gotten through all self-selected for having fewer Achilles injuries?
Megan Young: [0:53:23] I think a couple things. I did the best thing possible. My partner is a medical and genetics and genomics expert. So I don’t have to know. I can be like, “What is this?” Also, genetics, we can talk more specifically about me in that I’ve had some genetic mutation. So I find it very fascinating. And the one thing I’ll say when we look at markers and if you had her back on again, they can change. The environmental expression of genetic markers can change. So to make informed decisions and kind of ultimatum decisions, black and white, I think that’s what people are trying to do, but logically, I still think we’re in the grey space. We’re not able to really move forward with that yet. Now there’s companies trying to use genetic markers to individualize medicine or supplements or nutrition. I even think with those things, I’m not all lin or all out, I’m still riding to see what happens, if that makes sense. I’m not-
Juliet: [0:54:23] Totally.
Megan Young: [0:54:24] Informed enough to tell you what is appropriate. But I’ll go ask Ragan and say, “Excuse me, Dr. Hart,” and I never call her that, “Can you tell me a little bit more about this?” And then I get the nerd answers from her.
Kelly: [0:54:37] Better, same, worse. Test, restest. I mean you can say, “Hey, this is interesting. Hey, let’s see if we up your collagen a little bit or-
Megan Young: [0:54:43] Exactly.
Kelly: [0:54:44] Some mineral and do you feel better. And hey, look, you’re recovering better, so that’s cool.”
Juliet: [0:54:48] Okay, so I have a two-part question that I’m going to tee up with saying I’m sorry to say that we both have this in common, I wish we didn’t. And that’s having had cancer. So obviously, I know our listeners don’t know that you had a battle with cancer in 2015. By the way, sometimes I hate the language used around cancer, including battle with. So I don’t know why I just said that. That’s actually kind of not my thing. I’d love to hear a little bit about that story and then I know you’ve been doing some work around blood donation in connection with that experience. So maybe just tell us a little bit about what happened and what it was like and what you’re thinking about and doing about it now.
Megan Young: [0:55:25] So I want to start with saying the first time I got introduced in person to Kelly, I kind of word vomited to him. I was like, “So I’m really interested in these things but here are the things that I find as constraints and I’m not sure if that’s normal or not.” And he was like, “I need to talk to you about my wife.” And he told me some of your story. And from that moment, I was like, I don’t know when we’re going to become friends, but here we are.
Juliet: [0:55:50] We are.
Megan Young: [0:55:50] So I’m glad it’s here.
Juliet: [0:55:50] And now we are. Done.
Megan Young: [0:55:52] So one, I’m so happy that you’re here with us.
Juliet: [0:55:54] Ditto.
Megan Young: [0:55:55] 2015, super gnarly tired. Training teams at 6 a.m., I’d go back to sleep until 6 a.m. training the next day. That’s how tired I was. But I’m a strength coach so you just keep going. Sought out medical help. Got a Con Chairs medical doctor ran an executive blood panel. Diagnosed with adrenal fatigue. Cool. I had no hormones. Start hormones. I’m 30 years old.
Juliet: [0:56:20] You’re like, subtext, I’m 30.
Megan Young: [0:56:21] Yeah. So eight weeks later, we’re traveling to Missouri. I see our team doc before because I’m like, “Doc, if I walk from here in four steps, I swear I’ve done a full workout and my muscles feel like they’re cramping.” He’s like, “All right, let’s take a look.” My heartrate’s 95 resting. Cool. He’s like, “I’m going to give you magnesium and I want you to have some hard candy to help with the flight.” Awesome. Mastication distracts the brain from your heart. No problem.
We get to Missouri, can’t move my bags. Circle back, that next week, what saved my life, I walked into the pharmacy to get a prescription and my doctor’s PA happened to walk in at the same time and saw me. And my lips were like grey. I looked kind of greenish, kind of alien. And she goes, “I need you to come with me to do bloodwork.” And I’m like, “It’s Monday, it’s our off day.” I’m like, “We have a lift tomorrow morning; I’ll come after that.” So next morning, after the lift I’m in sweatpants and a sweatshirt. It’s Alabama in September 90 degrees. I get someone to drive me because I’ve lost peripheral vision. So we get to the doctor’s office, I’m like, “I think I’m going to be here a while.”
Juliet: [0:57:28] Oh my God. Okay. Keep going. Oh my God.
Kelly: [0:57:30] So tough.
Megan Young: [0:57:31] I’m like, “You can probably just leave me here; I’m going to be here a while.” I knew something else was really wrong. So he tries to draw blood and it takes like eight times even to get blood. My doctor drives it to go centrifuge, drives back with the results. They drive me to the hospital straight to the oncology room. They come in, try to get more blood. I’m like this really sucks to give blood and I don’t feel like they’re getting any. And the doctor walks in, he goes, “My name’s Dr. Brandon Johnson and you’re in a blood emergency and you have leukemia, I’m just not sure what type.” And I went, “Okay.” And he goes, “Why aren’t you upset?” And I go, “Well, I knew something was wrong. Now you’ve told me what it is. Let’s go.” And they started giving me red blood cells.
Juliet: [0:58:10] You’re like I actually feel relived right now.
Megan Young: [0:58:12] Right. They started giving me red blood cells and I was like, oh my God, I feel amazing. So the day I got diagnosed, my blood level was three. Today it’s fourteen like a normal person. So I love to ask questions. So I asked what would’ve happened had I not come in. And they said, “Well, you would have either died in your sleep or you would have had a massive cardiac event.” Because what happens with leukemia is you’re-
Kelly: [0:58:38] Or just an ischemic event, no big deal.
Megan Young: [0:58:39] Yeah, no biggie. So your bone marrow makes blast cells which should differentiate into red blood cells, white blood cells. With leukemia, they just stay immature blast cells. So basically, you don’t have oxygen transporting, you don’t have red blood cells, you don’t have platelets. If you get cut, it’s probably just going to bleed.
Kelly: [0:58:54] You need Epo Candy, that’s what you needed.
Megan Young: [0:58:58] Correct.
Kelly: [0:58:59] Not hard candy, Epo candy.
Megan Young: [0:59:00] Correct. And I needed a lot of it. So I got like six bags of blood that first day and I was like I feel like a machine, best I’ve ever felt, also the worst I’ve ever felt. And they took me by ambulance up to University of Alabama-Birmingham. I ended up with an AML specialist. I had acute myeloid leukemia. And they asked me if I’d be open to doing a clinical trial. I said, “Of course. I love science.” And so I did a standard chemo regimen and they did a genetic profiling of my first bone marrow biopsy and turned out I was negative for FLT3 mutation, which means most times when people get diagnosed with leukemia if they have that they have 10,000 white blood cells, like an astronomically high amount. Didn’t have that. I was positive for a nucleophosmin gene mutation which means all the things that should be in your nucleus from your biology days way back, mine were in the cytoplasm. How gnarly is that?
Juliet: [0:59:54] Interesting.
Megan Young: [0:59:55] Yeah. That blew my mind a little. So that meant that I had favorable genetics to reach remission within normal consolidation. So I was an ideal candidate—young, healthy, 30, best shape of my life—to do a clinical trial. So I did a clinical trial, drug SGN-33A, shoutout to Seattle genetics. It did not make it to market. It killed too many people. But it worked for me.
Juliet: [1:00:16] Oh my God.
Megan Young: [1:00:18] So I’m on a paper somewhere and hard to kill.
Juliet: [1:00:20] Oh my God.
Kelly: [1:00:21] Strong people are hard to kill.
Megan Young: [1:00:23] Yeah, here we are, 75 plus blood donations later, bags of blood transfusions, no problem. So my whole thing around blood donation is especially with everything that’s happened within the pandemic, we are in a blood shortage. So anyone that can donate, I urge you, especially for people that have rare blood types like O positive, donating blood is something you can always do. And I know it’s somewhat uncomfortable, but just think about the person’s life you could be saving.
Kelly: [1:00:50] Do you have a special organization you work with?
Megan Young: [1:00:52] Just LLS, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. They do a lot of blood donations. And their Light the Night event is kind of like their survivor night. But they also do blood donations on site for those.
Juliet: [1:01:03] And so can people go onto LLS and find out where, how they can get blood donations or just to be super specific?
Megan Young [1:01:09] Yeah. You can sign up for the Light the Night to either honor people that you’ve lost, to celebrate being a survivor, or to increase education. So there’s a lot on there. And then the American Red Cross also does tons of blood donations.
Juliet: [1:01:22] Well, first of all, amazing story. And I feel like that’s the first time where someone’s told me their whole cancer story where I was like, wow, Kelly and I are just here laughing because it’s so insane.
Kelly: [1:01:31] What I thought of is, as a cis, hetero male, if I even had a man cold, I’d probably have to go get a blood transfusion.
Juliet: [1:01:39] Yeah. If Kelly’s blood was like 12, he’d be like, “Take me to the ER, take me to the ER.”
Kelly: [1:01:43] You’re like, yeah, it’s fine. I got a lift.
Juliet: [1:01:46] This is unrelated to my cancer. But I lost a lot of blood when I had one of my kids and so I had to have a bunch of bags of blood.
Kelly: [1:01:52] Only six.
Juliet: [1:01:53] I’m just wondering if you felt like this. My overwhelming feeling was extreme thirst. And what I was saying to Kelly as I’m having residents push cold blood into my body from blood bags, I’m like, “Now I know how when they’re in the Vietnam War movie and they’re bleeding out in the jungle, they’re like, ‘I’m so thirsty.’ I was like that’s true.
Megan Young: [1:02:14] So I’ll say a couple things.
Kelly: [1:02:15] True fact. That’s a true story, everyone.
Juliet: [1:02:15] I feel like you must have been so thirsty.
Megan Young: [1:02:18] Do I have them here?
Kelly: [1:02:19] Plasma volume, plasma, plasma, dog plasma.
Megan Young: [1:02:20] Okay. So anytime I got blood it has to go through not radioactive, but it had to be radiated so it had nothing else in it. So I already felt like I was getting half Hulk, half human blood, which I was like, oh, perfect, because that’s what my blood already was. So makes sense. But every time they gave me a transfusion, they also gave me Benadryl. I don’t know if you’ve ever had IV Benadryl.
Juliet: [1:02:46] Oh no, no I have not.
Megan Young: [1:02:47] So they give it to you in our pic line and I just lay there and I’m like, okay, it doesn’t matter what else happens. So between that and the other drugs you’re also on, I was thirsty, but what saved me was Lifesavers. I always had Life Savers. So that always kept my mouth so I didn’t really notice as much. They got a little angry because that’s all I’d eat.
Juliet: [1:03:11] Seems like someone along your cancer journey too before you got diagnosed, they’re like, “I don’t know what’s wrong with you, but I think you should have some Life Savers.”
Megan Young: [1:03:18] I don’t know. And I’ve never really been a hard candy person. But Life Savers. And I had a pack I bought this week because I have a little bit of a cold. My fiancé goes, “Can you have that?” I’m like, “Yeah.” She’s like, “Didn’t you have those a lot?” I’m like, “I have a positive relationship with them, don’t worry, it’s not traumatic.” Still good.
Juliet: [1:03:36] Yeah, you’re like it’s okay, it’s okay.
Kelly: [1:03:36] Dr. Hart. I love it. Do you fall into the Anson Dorrance school of candy’s all around all the time, just making sure a little bit of a pick me up?
Megan Young: [1:03:46] No. If you’re ever in the hospital the best thing you can do to ensure the best level of care is use one of your drawers for candy and chocolate for the nurses and the techs. That is how.
Kelly: [1:03:57] You are such a ninja. That’s some next level coaching right there. I have to get into it. You have a rad book coming out. Can you talk about that? Because I actually have some friends in this book. And tell us about what this book is and how you came to do it.
Juliet: [1:04:15] When’s it coming out? Where can people get it?
Kelly: [1:04:16] Let’s start from there because I am a nerd for these things.
Megan Young: [1:04:19] Yeah, so the NFCA is working with Human Kinetics as a publisher to come out with a series of books, Strength Training For ___, insert sport here. And so I was approached about the Strength Training for Soccer book, to be one of the editors for the book originally. And ended up being Daniel Guzman and I during COVID became the editors and also authors of this book. And we were able to put together a list of names we thought would be good contributors. And we wanted to highlight people from the college world, the men’s and women’s, pro and club world. I want a holistic opinion of soccer, not just academies and professional settings. So the book Strength and Conditioning for Soccer is on presale now on Amazon. But official launch is going to be at the NFCA National Convention in New Orleans which is beginning next month, like July 7, 8, and 9. So we’ll be there to talk about the book a little bit. But got to work with a bunch of people you know like EB and some of those amazing practitioners and really bring out hopefully some education to help no matter what level you are at.
Juliet: [1:05:28] I’ll just start by saying congratulations. And get ready to stuff your mattress with money because everyone who writes books makes billions of dollars.
Megan Young: [1:05:35] Billions.
Kelly: [1:05:35] By billions, you’re saying tens of dollars? Tens.
Juliet: [1:05:37] Tens of billions. Tens of ones.
Kelly: [1:05:38] No, no, no. Tens of dollars.
Juliet: [1:05:40] Tens of dollars.
Kelly: [1:05:40] Tens of dollars.
Juliet: [1:05:42] So who is this book for? Is there a specific age range? Is it for adults? Is it wide ranging? Who would want to pick this up?
Megan Young [1:05:50] I’d say anyone working with strength and conditioning for soccer, regardless of level. Also, anyone that is a soccer athlete that is more interested in understanding what it’s like to have a coach work with them. Or parents that want to learn more about how we do it. There might be some chapters, aka anything Brian Mann and [1:06:10 Joe Club???] write, that might be a little bit nerdy for them. But the purpose of the book is what does it look like to strength training within the sport of football. So if you want to understand that from a fan, from an athlete, from a coach, I think it’s a good book to start from.
Kelly: [1:06:23] And I do want to say that part of the way we’ll improve energy rates, improve performance, is we need to decentralize some of this strength and conditioning because it’s not that sophisticated and you can do it at home with your family. It’s got to start to happen in the family garage if we’re actually going to foundationally change the culture.
Megan Young: [1:06:41] Absolutely.
Kelly: [1:06:42] Parents, I’m putting you on record right now. That’s up to you and your kids. Coach, we obviously are going to be besties. And I have a ton of family in Seattle so we’ll be hanging out with you momentarily. But where would we find you, where can we ogle at your radness?
Juliet: [1:07:00] See fancy photos of your amazing new medal.
Megan Young: [1:07:02] Yeah. No, if you would like to see photos of my dog and maybe occasionally the training garage gym, you can follow my social stuff. At Instagram, it’s @coach_megastrong. Mega Strong was the phrase my team came up with when I was in the hospital. So I’ve stuck with that ever since. So may nickname to a lot of people is still Mega. So yeah. You can find me on Instagram, @coach_megastrong. I think on Twitter it’s just Coach Mega for all the internationals out there. Yeah, exactly. So it’s a lot easier. There’s a lot of Megans, there’s very few Megas.
Juliet: [1:07:38] That is a great nickname, by the way. That is a great nickname.
Kelly: [1:07:42] Last thing, do you love deadlifting more than me or do I love deadlifting more than you?
Megan Young: [1:07:46] I think that what we’ll love the most is deadlifting together. I think the deadlift is just, I don’t know if it’s something about being over 30. You have dad strength. I just have over 30 grey hair strength. And it calls to you. The deadlift just looks at you, you look at it, and you know it’s going to happen. So I do love a good deadlift.
Kelly: [1:08:07] I’ve got to tell you I think sometimes my deadlift’s getting better. And then lo and behold, I just meet a 275 sandbag and I think I tore my adductors, ripped off my glutes, found out where my pelvic floor was. And I was like it’s 275 pounds. That’s all I had to do was just lift that. I did three sets of one and I was like, I’m good.
Juliet: [1:08:25] Before we let you go, you left it right in the middle of our outdoor gym.
Kelly: [1:08:28] Yeah, because I couldn’t move it. I was done.
Juliet: [1:08:29] And then I was like, “Dude.” We went out to work out with my friends, we had to knock it over and then three of us had to roll it out of the way just to be able to do our workout. I was like this thing is ridiculous.
Kelly: [1:08:37] It was my bad.
Juliet: [1:08:37] So anyway, yes, we look forward to deadlifting with you. And Lisa, who you’ve talked with is offscreen
K [1:08:43] Also wants to deadlift.
Juliet: [1:08:44] Is not an original weightlifter but she loves deadlifting.
Kelly: [1:08:48] She’s good at it.
Juliet: [1:08:48] So she’ll be in on it whenever we get to hang out.
Megan Young: [1:08:51] Power to the hinge.
Juliet: [1:08:52] Yeah. Thank you again, Megan. Thank you so much for being here.
Kelly: [1:08:55] Thanks coach.
Juliet: [1:08:55] Mega.
Megan Young: [1:08:55] Absolutely. Thank you so much.Back to Episode