Saturday, March 5, 2011

Reading Between the Lines

As a semi-elitist in the sport of triathlon guy who has been exercising for a long time, I have some friends and family that milk me for free advice depend on me to keep them motivated and on the right path towards their goals. They are all quite inspriring and I look forward to coaching/ talking with them. One of my athletes is planning on doing the NYC Half Marathon in a couple of weeks.

As we grow nearer the starting gun, she seems to be getting nervous about the race. Yet, she's not the type to express her nervousness in the usual ways. Here's an email expressing how she might lose control of her bodily functions sometime in the near future. It is reprinted with permission and name was changed to protect the innocent. See if you can figure out which one is she.
So what do all of these people have in common:
Meb Keflezighi
Ryan Hall
Abdi Abdirahman
Kara Goucher

THAT'S RIGHT BABY, WE'RE ALL RUNNING NYC!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Is it wrong to poop my pants when I see them fly by me??
Blatant fear in this message. I sometimes wish that athletes would be less cryptic. Still, half of the fun of coaching is to solve the puzzle called 'athlete'. And, as a coach, it's my responsibility to not only guide my athletes towards their goals and encourage them, but also to read between the lines and quell their fears.

Since there's a good chance that you do not yet possess the skill and knowledge to fully understand the hidden woes of an athlete, I'll help you out. By dissecting this message, we can ascertain the following:
  1. She does her research and knows her competition.
  2. She has a secret crush on Ryan Hall. She didn't list him first because she didn't want to be too obvious.
  3. She knows I have a secret crush on Kara Goucher. How she figured it out is anyone's guess. Still, correct assumption on her part.
  4. She wants to move to Africa. Not now, but soon.
  5. She knows that she's an awesome athlete, but is afraid her endurance will run out, thus allowing some inferior athletes to catch her.
  6. She thinks that, by unloading during the second half of the race, she can shed some weight thus increasing her leg:weight power ratio and improving her speed/ endurance.
I try to be a good, supportive coach. Despite her nervousness, she's going to do well in this race. Here's why. Each number below corresponds to the number above.
  1. This is the main reason she'll succeed. Always know your competition. In her office, she has each one of these athlete's pictures posted and spends 5 minutes per day staring at them while growling. (All except for bachelorette number 4. That picture has, err, mysteriously, umm, disappeared.)
  2. Ryan Hall is nothing to be ashamed about. If it wasn't for the fact that he's a dude... (I'll stop there)
  3. She has been ordered to take several pictures from various angles of Kara.
  4. Humans evolved in Africa. Plus, their winters are significantly shorter than here. Not a bad idea.
  5. None of the names on her list are in her age group. Even if they do happen to pass her (possible, but unlikely), she'll still be in line to get a token finisher's medal and a potential plastic trophy. That should ease her mind.
  6. Since she has not trained in poopy pants, I do not recommend that she try in out during the race. If she wants to poop and run, she has to do it at least 3 times and log her experience before it can be race ready. Until then, all unloading should be placed in the proper receptacle. Also, there's dehydration problems to consider.
Coaching is not always easy but always rewarding. Athletes are human and thus prone to various sways in moods, emotions, and performances. But, after you get to know your athlete, you can guide them through the various ups and downs of a season. The Banter-Girl (I haven't cleared this name with her yet but I am guessing she'll be honored with the label) and I will be going on a long run tomorrow to gauge her fitness and keep her motivated. Plus, I want to ensure item number 6 does not happen. We're too close to race day to start working on that now.

1 comment:

  1. I think I feel honored to be the subject of your post...but there's a WHOLE lot of discussion about my bowels...

    See you bright and early tomorrow!! And after the race (in 14 days!!), I'll send you a thank you text for coaching me (from Africa--it is to where Ryan and I are running away together...)