Tag: coaching

Looking ahead to 2018 – What Lifts You

Looking ahead to 2018 – What Lifts You

Tis the season for putting away things that are better left behind in 2017 and looking to the horizon to plan what could be for 2018.  It may surprise people who know me, but due to a lot of family “things” over the last few years, I have rarely approached the New Year with droves of optimism.  In fact, our family received another “bomb shell of worry” for Christmas this year that would make you think I would be approaching 2018 with the same measure of apathy of optimism as past years.  But oddly enough, this year does feel different.  This year feels like I’ve finally found that measure of maturity required to truly accept the grace associated with the “Serenity Prayer” . . . “Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;  accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.”

So what is different this year?

If I am being completely honest, it is my running tribe that has made me excited.  I blame them for an audacity of enthusiasm in the New Year that has hitherto been lacking.  Many of the folks in my running group, the Mad Cows, have set bold goals for the New Year.  Many of them blame me for their “bad choices”.  I tell them that they need better friends. We have folks who have gone from never running trails to signing up to run a race on the side of the mountain, at night, in the cold.  We have folks who started running 1.5 years ago and are now signed up to run an ultra marathon . . .or maybe two.  We have folks that made their goal to run a marathon in 2018 and then somehow ended up registered for a 50 miler.  My running tribe has invited me to be part of an exciting journey to run the Black Toe 12 hr Trail Race, the Strolling Jim 41.2 miler/marathon, and the sweetest one of all, the Tunnel Hill 50 miler.

So now that I have talked about the goals of our running tribe, what are the ultra running couples’ goals for 2018?  Our goals for this year are to stay in the moment and focus on enjoying each experience or alternatively, learning from each struggle.  We will not try to overlook or escape the experience by wishing it over or looking to a finish line that does not exist until we complete the run.  Our goals are to do what lifts us and during our journey, to do what lifts others.  So here are the race goals for 2018:

  • Black Toe Trail Race – 12 hour – We want to stay committed to the full 12 hours rather than get bored or tired and stop early.
  • Strolling Jim 41.2 miler – Our perpetual goal is to run the course in under 7 hours and earn the coveted “red shirt”
  • The NRC Dark Sky 50 miler – We have run 50 mile races but never one on a technical trail . . . and this race is a week after “the Jim” so the physical and mental challenge will be high
  • 100K – We have never run a 100K race.  We have run longer than 100K but never signed up for a 100K trail race.
  • The Barkley Fall Classic – This is some serious crazy.  We want to complete this prelude to the Barkley at Frozen Head State park.  We want to battle thorns and climbs and face the very real possibility of defeat.  We want to test ourselves.  We want the Croix de Barque.
  • Tunnel Hill 50 miler – We are looking to run the course in under 9 hours and bear witness to the Mad Cows who will be experiencing the distance for the first time.
  • El Camino de Lavaca – 225 mile Pilgrimage – We want to travel 225 miles in 10 days in a Texas “winter” with nothing but our trusty running shoes, our hydration packs, and each other.  If we can succeed, in 2019 – Vol State 500K, we are coming for you.

And then there are the “other” running goals that are even more important than adding to our race resume:

  • We want to do everything possible to help our running tribe meet their goals in 2018.
  • We want to run with new runners and meet with new running groups in our local community.
  • We want to have fun.  So simple and yet somehow we as humans often find a way to lose sight of the idea of fun and muck things up.

So with that, Happy New Year dear reader.  We hope you plan audacious goals in 2018 and that you do “what lifts you” and on your journey, do what lifts others.

The Coach’s Spirit

The Coach’s Spirit

I love coaching . . . and I blame my father.  You know those team pictures we all took as kids in recreational sports leagues with the kids lined up in rows, wearing nice crisp uniforms? Coaches kneeling at their players’ sides with whistles and some random kid in the middle holding a ball or a chalkboard with the team name.  I have one of those pictures.  Except the sports team in question is my older brother’s soccer team.  My dad is kneeling down with his players, and my biddy self is standing at his knee with a whistle around my neck and a big smile.

Granted, I was not coaching eight year old boy’s soccer, but I got the bug.  When I got older and had actual motor coordination, I did become a coach.  I was the assistant coach to my dad for a number of years when my little sister played soccer.  I was often in charge of setting the line up and arguing why I thought my line up had the best match ups.  One time, I even got to coach the team by myself when my dad went all Bobby Knight and got himself ejected.  Admittedly, it was girls’ youth soccer.  But also in defense of my dad, the referee was an absolute cretin.

I believe that coaching is an art form that like all art forms is one part genus, one part hard work and study, and one part sheer magic.  When I coached soccer, I watched my dad attend national coaching courses to get licensing.  I also watched what happened with the teams whose coaches did not invest the time . . . lines, laps, lectures . . . and a distinct lack of fun.  When I was old enough, my parents supported me in pursuing coaching licenses.  And now several years later I am coaching a marathon training program for our local Fleet Feet store and I am trying to schedule my training certifications through USATF.  In addition to that, I pour over webpages and pages of books to learn about new techniques, drills, running form, cross training, muscle imbalances, nutrition, and the psychology of sports.

But, why?  What’s the point of spending hours a week studying and planning for very little real gain (monetary or otherwise)?  The point, actually has very little to do with me, and everything to do with . . .you, the reader.  You, the runner.  You, the person who wants to do better than the day before.

The coach’s spirit is one of a tinkerer.  We look to those who come to us for guidance as riddles to be solved, as machines to be tweaked, and as characters to be challenged.  As a coach, the greatest gift you can give someone is the gift of self-actualization.  I see so many men and women with amazing talents who are plagued by self-doubt: “I’m too slow”, “I’m afraid I’ll finish last”, and my least favorite “This must be easy for you”.  Everything is all relative.  Certainly, we have limits imposed on us by our genetics, but it should be the role of a coach to work with their trainees to develop and execute a plan that allows the trainee to grow mentally and physically.   Simply put, to be more than they were before.

Coaches should help their trainees redefine what is possible.  Help them look for solutions, rather than complain about the impossibilities.  And above all, coaches should help their trainees find joy in the struggle and the journey.  Because without the opportunity to face a challenge and the possibility of failure, how will any of us really know the limits of our potential.

I remember the absolute elation I felt when I ran my first (and only to this point) 100 mile race.  The task was a Leviathan and I thought there was no way I could face down the challenge.  I also know that I have never been the same since I rose to the challenge and succeeded.  I look back at that moment and realize that it was one of the hardest things I have ever done both physically and mentally.  And no matter what happens going forward, no one can take away that accomplishment.  From that day on, things haven’t seemed as daunting.  I am not afraid of failure, personally or professionally.  And most of all . . . I got me just a little bit of swagger.  And that, is what I would love to bottle up and give to all the men and women who live with doubt and fear of failure.  But until such time that I can science that into reality, I will continue to coach and offer anyone who is willing to listen and to do the work, their own opportunity to find some swagger.