Within these posts I aim to share my experience, knowledge and craft of a trade often underestimated for its complexities: Coaching. Although we may appear to be, coaches are not administrators, fitness fanatics or drill sergeants. We are fluid, motivated, one-for-all-and-all-for-one professionals looking to give individuals and teams opportunities to create lasting memorable achievements. The closer we can have an athlete trust our process the stronger their confidence will be in competition. As the saying goes: If the athlete succeeds it is because of their hard work, if the athlete fails the coach is to blame. I would like to think most coaches are ok with that because it is probably true. It is our job to prepare them.
Before I go any further, a little about myself. I have been a lifelong endurance athlete, earned a degree in exercise physiology, competed internationally at the professional level and I have been coaching NCAA cross country and distance athletes for sometime now. Although, it has been awhile since I was in any shape to compete along side my athletes, when I started I would like to think I was a formidable opponent. At that time I knew what motivated me and got me focused on a goal. I had assumed this would mean coaching collegiate runners should be an easy translation of my own determination. Wrong. Initially it perplexed me and, in all honesty, frustrated me that a lot of the team members did not share the same motivations as I did.
Before long I let go of what motivated me and started asking what motivated them. After all, they showed up every day, 6:30AM most days, and gave their best at one of hardest sports in collegiate athletics. Why would the do that if they did not have their own source motivation? (If you have any experience with college students, to them, 6:30AM is like catching a red eye flight home and going right into a 12 hour work day. -The horror!-). Are they here to beat old times? Are they here because their friends are? Parent influences? Unfinished business? Etc etc etc…
How can one coax another to make personal sacrifices for their teammates? That is what I believe the source of a good coach is. The ability to identify what motivates an individual, strengthen it and point it towards a team goal.
In this blog I will share my insights about team motivation landmarks, key workouts, race preparation, physiology, nutrition… the whole lot. The training routine and coaching stories I offer is not a suggestion it is merely an insight into the programs I am involved with and what works for us. I welcome you to consider my approach but in reality there is a good chance you might disagree. That’s ok! As Mike Smith, Director of Army West Point Track and Field, loves to say:
“Whatever works for your athlete”.