I have been coaching runners for 10 years now and have shared the joys of their success and also the disappointment of their failures. Those two words, success and failure cannot exist without the other. Within our running it is how we measure our progress. We achieve or we do not achieve. There is no middle ground. That is the beauty of running the Boston Marathon.
As the 2018 race approaches I have been blessed with the opportunity to coach fifteen Teachers selected by Hyland's to run this year’s event on April 16th.
So what is it like to teach those who teach?
There are a number of variables that have to be addressed:
Our group is from all over the country, from the East coast to the Midwest, to the West coast and weather plays a huge roll in preparation and often dictates a training day. For example a track workout may be relegated to running down a road telephone pole to telephone pole for time, while smothering yourself under a mask to keep your face from freezing. On the other side of the spectrum many of them have to deal with warm temperatures, long work commutes and the traffic of a large city.
What I love about this group is that there are no excuses. They get out and they get it done. I can only assume it is in direct correlation to the way they teach. So taking into account where they live I have to often make adjustments to their daily schedule. On the flip side I believe if you can accomplish your workout irregardless of what Mother Nature throws at you, it will benefit you mentally on race day.
2) Physical Challenges
With such a diverse group there are various levels age, fitness and with different goals. I am married to a teacher. She is also a marathoner. I see her discipline and drive when she sets a goal and it plays a big part in her classroom life. It is the same with this group. I have teachers who are caffeinated and those who are decaf, when it comes to speed. The bottom line is that both groups WANT to do their best in April and not just go and finish. I have to take into account past history of the runners. How many training years have they had? What is their level of experience? Are there any special health conditions I need to work with? What body type are they? What is their nutrition knowledge in training and on race day? Most importantly, where are they right now with their running fitness?
3) The Mental Game
Can a teacher be taught? Will they listen? Are they coach-able? These are hard questions that have to be asked and even harder ones for them to answer. I believe in discipline. Not the crack your hand with a ruler discipline but discipline to follow guidance and to believe in the process. If one can be disciplined in training, in the specific workouts, in pacing and nutrition and hydration, then one can be disciplined on race day when you need it the most. For the evil head of temptation will rise up and coax you to abandon your plan and destroy your experience by running to fast. I believe in a plan, a pathway to the success one desires. I believe that a plan always has another plan as it should. If Plan 'A' fails well there are 25 other letters in the alphabet.
Mike Tyson once said "Everyone has a good plan until they get punched in the face". That is a little extreme for us runners but Boston will punch you in the face if you disrespect it. This is what I try to convey to my runners. Prepare with one thought in mind. 100% on race day. If that is given then time is really irrelevant because a great run just took place.
These are just a few of my observations from the asphalt classroom so I will close for now, there is ground to be covered and lessons to share......time to put the chalk away.