Hell Week

Little known fact: In college, I was a sorority girl. Ohhhh, yes I was. Zeta Tau Alpha. Any sisters out there?


That feels like a lifetime ago. I was a whole different person – I cared about things like tanning, drinking, smoking (yes, I was a smoker!), bar hopping, frat parties, and anything else your typical college sorority girl was into. I was *that* girl. In my “spare” time (oh, the difference between “spare” time as a college student versus an adult), I spent my days doing things like “canning” (raising funds for our philanthropy, Susan G. Komen), hazing pledges, planning homecoming/Greek week festivities, occasionally studying, and going to meetings associated with Greek life. I look at pictures and don’t even recognize the person in the photos. I don’t regret a single second of it, but it’s certainly something I’d prefer to leave in the past 🙂

All of the frats/sororities out there say they don’t condone hazing. You know what I think about that?

There’s this thing that happens to most pledges called Hell Week. The brothers and sisters of your respective organization sort of torture you for an entire week with hazing rituals and activities. We are the sister’s bitches for a week and got run into the ground.

Here I am, in my peak week of training. I don’t reflect back on my experience with Greek life too often, but I keep thinking about it this week. Particularly about Hell Week. Peak Week. Hell Week.

  • Instead of hydrating with Gatorade after a night of binge drinking so I can sober up for Bio, I’m sucking back Nuun tablets to nail speed workouts.
  • Instead of waking up and mowing an egg bagel with cream cheese from Country Bagel on High Street in hopes of preventing dry heaving and absorbing the alcohol, I’m eating things like almond flour flatbreads and sweet potato waffles to prevent shitting my pants during workouts.
  • Instead of fetching the older sisters cheesesteaks from Philly in the middle of the night because they’re drunk and hungry, I’m preparing weird Paleo-ish meals and don’t know what life is like past 9pm.
  • Instead of being sore and tired from scrubbing the houses of the older sisters after a huge rager that we weren’t invited to, I’m sore from track workouts, marathon paced miles, and existing in general.
  • My own chores are being completely neglected, and I’m wishing for a pledge of my own to fold my growing laundry pile and do the dishes in the sink.
  • Instead of making sure all of the sister’s needs are met before bed, I make sure I do my abs, MYRTLS, and pay homage to my foam roller.
  • Instead of looking forward to the next frat party and $1 well drinks at the bar, I’m looking forward to the workout where I will reward myself with the new Caramelized Honey Latte from Starbucks.
  • Instead of funneling beer, I’m funneling coffee (in theory).
  • Instead of answering to a bunch of bitchy sisters, I answer to the Hanson boys and Luke Humphrey.

But even though Hell Week as a pledge was hellish, I never hated it. It might not be a part of my life that I wish to relive, but it’s a fun memory to look back on. I could chalk it up good character building experience and move on. In a sorority, Hell Week does actually serve a purpose: to tie together all of the activities/experiences you completed during the period you are considered a pledge. Some say it’s degrading, but we used to say it builds trust and confidence in the people you are going to call your sisters.

Peak week in marathon training is also a good character building experience. It’s meant to tie everything together that you’ve developed during training. It’s meant to put your speed to the test with long track workouts and tempo runs, and take you to your maximum weekly mileage. It builds mental grit and tenacity and for some, it takes you almost to your breaking point. It builds trust and confidence in the work you’ve done to get you to the starting line. Much like hell week, peak week is challenging and tiring….but I also don’t hate it.

Any brothers and sisters out there? Anyone else in the height of their race training this week?



25 Replies to “Hell Week”

  1. Um, are you even in the picture up there?! Because if so, I don’t recognize which one is even you – none of them look like you!! Haha, definitely can’t relate to the whole Greek life thing, but you could also equate peak marathon training to final exam week in college 😀

    And caramelized honey latte?!?!?!?! WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?! I seriously need to go to Starbucks like ASAP. And I will text you next week about coming for the race and all but I’m taking next Friday off of work so I can drive there any time that day!

      1. Haha ok, that would’ve been my best guess but also still so hard to tell. We will definitely have a Starbucks stop on the agenda next week 😀

  2. How interesting that you can relate this peak week of training to a time and place so different from where you are now! I was never in a sorority. I was such a loner in college. I had a roommate for the first semester and she pledged a sorority. After that, I got a single room and lived alone for the rest of my semesters at school and student teaching. I wasn’t very happy in college. I was homesick a lot and spent most of my time on the elliptical, studying, practicing, or watching Forensic Files in my room. 🙂

  3. I had no idea you were in a sorority Allison. This was interesting to read. Most of our sororities were actually removed from campus due to their tactics. I can’t believe it’s already peak week for you but I know you’re going to rockBoston. I’m excited for you.

  4. This is such an awesome comparison! I actually started the rush process at a sorority my freshman year, but I ended up transferring schools, and never got back into Greek life. It’s funny because when I read your title, a different kind of hell week came to mind for me. In theatre, hell week is the week before a show when all of the technical elements (lights, props, costumes, sound, sets etc) come together with the performers for the first time, and you have to sort of relearn everything, and it’s really stressful and crazy. And it’s actually a pretty good tie in with marathon training too. So many different hell weeks that all tie together!

  5. I laughed so hard throughout this post! I can see how peek training and hell week would relate. I was not in a sorority and my parties were pretty different in college. I was part of an outdoor adventure group (no surprise there) called OAR, and we would go every weekend to either North Carolina, Georgia or Alabama to go climbing, hiking, and caving. Pretty much I am the exact same person now and when I go out to Colorado, I hang out with the exact same people. We did do our fair share of drinking and had some pretty wild (and messy) parties.

  6. I was in a sorority in college too! I dropped out of it midway through junior year though, and never looked back. It wasn’t because it was bad, it just….wasn’t really my thing. It was fun for a year and then I was just so over it. Like I was “so over” pretty much everything about college by that point.

    Our sorority actually honestly did not haze us. And it was still cool. God that shit is stupid. I love how it gets justified with the “but we need it so we can bond FO LYFE!!!” Yeah, okay.

    Training hell week also makes me think of Greek Hell Week!

  7. Interesting that you are in peak week now. My husband (Boston runner too) said he was just finishing up his last 20 miler, but didn’t mention anything else hard for him (non-Hanson plan). Boston is going to go so well for you! I’m excited for you!
    I was not in a sorority. I commuted to college, so it was quite different than living on campus. But I did meet my husband there, so it was definitely something I look back at with great fondness!

  8. I was not in a sorority but laughed at your comparisons :). It was a cute blog post and I hope you get that latte soon (now I want one and I hadn’t even heard of it, but it does sound good and I have some $$ left on my Starbucks card… maybe later today after my run).

  9. I was in a sorority as well, which shocks just about everyone who knows me. I think I did it because my mom was in one in college, and I thought I should try it out – my marching band friends were kind of upset with me and thought I thought they weren’t good enough for me, oops! Rushing was one of the worst experiences of my life, and I spent a few evenings crying in the hallway on the phone with my mom about how no one likes me. (I kept getting cut from the houses I liked.) Anywayyyy, I had the choice between ZTA and Alpha Delta Pi – at the time, ZTA was basically the lowest sorority on the totem pole, and the two girls I knew there were graduating in a semester. I didn’t really have much of a draw toward ADPi, but I didn’t want to be in the “worst” sorority (not that ZTA is bad, but I’m sure sororities had “ranks” at your school too) so I went ADPi. They’d actually gotten in a lot of trouble the year prior for hazing, so we didn’t get hazed at all. They weren’t even allowed to do anything that separated us as a pledge class – even doing things like leaving presents for us as hints to find out who our “big sister” would be was considered risky. I kind of wish they did SOMETHING, but oh well. I didn’t love the sorority (and had those marching band friends – two big commitments that I just couldn’t maintain), so I quit at the start of my junior year. I met my best best friend in the sorority (oddly enough, she always won the spirit award and is now an advisor/on the board for ADPi so many years later), so it was worth it. I didn’t drink until after I left the sorority…no one ever pressured me to drink (but it was there if I wanted it!), but it definitely was a little out of the culture to be in a sorority/at events and not drinking.

    Okay, that was a novel. I have a lot of feelings about Greek life, haha. But isn’t it crazy how things change? Smoking?? I never would have guessed.

  10. My college was so small we didn’t have sororities. Good luck getting through peak week! It says a lot that you’re not hating it!

  11. I love this post so hard. I was not in a sorority but holy Hell I was a hellion in college. That’s not how I got my name Helly ( 😉 ) but it def fit my personality at the time jaja! I’m a COMPLETELY different person now, like you, and I very rarely think back on those days–I’d much rather forget, lol! Love the comparison though because it’s super relatable ja!

    Btw, I couldn’t find you in the pic either!!!

  12. i secretly have called peak week “hell week” for a long time. I was not in a sorority, but i believe we still would have been friends back then. Definitely drank, socially smoked, bar hopped too often. But i think everyone goes through that lol. I love all your comparisons in the post, so fun!

  13. I would not have picked you as a sorority girl! Although my only experience is with sororities is watching Legally Blonde LOL! I think I went to my university gym two times in my four years there. I was all about studying and drinking – I’m Irish after all. Just one more hard week to go and then you can taper – although that might depend on your feelings towards the taper.

  14. I never minded the peak week of the training plan. Is it hard? Yes, but it also tells us we are almost there. It’s downhill from here. And knowing that, at least for me, makes it that much easier to do the required training. Plus the whole “just one more long/speed/interval workout and I’m done” becomes so much more believable 🙂 . Enjoy your Easter break and make it count. You are almost there!

  15. My sister is a Zeta! So is my AP…it’s funny actually because ZTA is a big sorority in Florida so I know tons of them. I’m an Alpha Chi Omega…and actually, we didn’t have any hazing in my house. I honestly don’t remember having to do anything weird before initiation; we were so sensitive to hazing that we changed “moms and kids” to “bigs and littles” when I was a freshman, and our reveal ceremony had to be changed because it was considered too difficult – even though it was really fun and basically an obstacle course haha.

  16. This is a hilarious post. It’s amazing to look back at our younger selves and the things we pushed ourselves to do. And now here we are pushing our bodies in completely different ways. Love this take on it.

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