Tag Archives: coaching

Dear Doubt

Dear Doubt,

I’m going to kick your ass today. 

I want you to know that.

And I want you to know that ahead of time. 

Because I want you to be ready. 

So please plan on bringing everything you got.

Bring the hurt. 

Bring the shortness of breath.

Bring the dead legs.

Bring your hills and your cracked sidewalks and your roots and rocks littering the trail.

Bring it all. 

I may not have been ready for you before. 

But I’m ready now. 

I know you. 

I know all your games and tricks.

You’ll try to tell me I’m too hungry to run. 

Or maybe you’ll tell me I’m too full from eating so close to the run.

You’ll tell me I’m not good enough. 

You’ll tell me that I’m never going to get better.

You’ll remind me it’s raining and cold.

Or is it hot and humid?

Keep talking.

It doesn’t matter. 

So go on and tell me that running is punishment.

Just let me tell you something.

I’m not running to punish myself.

I’m running to punish you. 

Cheers,

Runner

The Most Elite Version of Yourself

 

Elite is not a time on a clock.

It’s what happens during that time on the clock.

Elite is not a medal.

It’s what you did to earn that medal.

Elite is not a distance.

It’s about running the distance.

Elite is not a finish line.

It’s a starting line.

Elite is not a pace.

It’s an effort.

Elite is not perfect form.

It’s keeping your form.

Elite is not a headline.

It’s the story.

Elite is not elitist.

It just means being the most elite version of yourself. 

Heath

 

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It matters.

That’s what I knew every day when I woke up.

It matters.

All of it.

Everything.

When I walked into the classroom and when I went to practice I knew it.

Mr. Heath made sure of that.

Because it mattered to him.

The challenge was if we could care as much about it as he did.

If we could do that, well, that is how one team wins 21 Meet of Champions titles.

 

He never treated Cross Country or Track & Field as peripheral sports.

To him they were the only sports.

That was super important to a 14 year old deciding what sport to commit to.

That mentality brought so many great runners into the program.

They didn’t even know they were runners!

But they wanted to be a part of something special.

 

Mr. Heath and I  didn’t coach the same way.

In fact, we were incredibly different when it came to coaching.

So, we argued.

But, we also laughed.

We laughed more than we argued.

We had fun working so hard.

The bar kept getting raised.

I’ll put those last 4 years we had together at CBA up against anyone’s best 4.

The greatest part was that it got harder and harder to get better and better.

And that made only made it more fun for us.

 

He didn’t need to do any more in the sport.

His place on the mountaintop was earned years ago.

You could add up the MOC titles of every other coach in NJ and put them in a corner and that pile would be smaller than his.

He kept coaching though.

Because it mattered.

And if something matters to you then dammit do it as best as you can.

That’s something I remember when I think about Mr. Heath.

 

Between The Lines

(I originally posted this on Instagram before the 2014 NYC Marathon. I thought it might be a good idea to repost it now. Good luck to every runner racing this Spring. Enjoy the journey between the lines.)
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 It’s not going to be perfect. And it’s best to come to terms with that now.
You are going to go out too slow or too fast or fall asleep in the middle or come up short or have too much at the end. You may cramp because you drank too little and you may cramp because you drank too much. You may be sick and feel like crap. You may be healthy and feel like crap.
It’s not going to be perfect.
You have weaknesses. You screw up and make mistakes. You have doubts. You get scared.
Because you’re not perfect either.
But you’re not doing this because you thought you were perfect. You are doing this because you know you are getting Stronger. Because you are learning every day about yourself. And you Believe you can do this. And because being Scared is OK. Being scared reminds you that you are Alive. And sometimes you need to be reminded.
And you should celebrate that you are not perfect. That means you Always have something you can work on, Challenge yourself on. You know what you can be is Better.
You know what you can be is your Best.
You just can’t be perfect.
So this mile, this run, this marathon, this journey between these start and  finish lines can be Life Changing. It can be Inspiring. It can be a Triumph.
It can be so many amazing things.
It just can’t be perfect.
It doesn’t have to be perfect for it to be Extraordinary.
And neither do you.

Things I Remember So I Don’t Forget…How To Coach

I’ve been coaching for a little while. Which means it’s really important not to forget the things I learned – which are different than the things I thought I knew. I forgot most of those.
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Coaches need athletes.
Take the spotlight on the bad days.
Go behind and direct the spotlight on the good days.
Don’t lie to your athlete.
Know what you don’t know and admit it.
Don’t make your athletes run to the finish line for you.
They will run faster to the finish line for themselves.
They will run to the finish line fastest for their teammates.
Teach them it’s OK to lose. It’s not OK to give up.
Your athletes will lose. Don’t give up on them.
Don’t worry about what the athlete wants to hear.
Make sure they hear what they need to hear.
If you do this right you will get your heart broken.
If you do this right your athletes will get their hearts broken.
If you do this right those hearts will heal.
The heart heals stronger after it’s been broken.
This sport needs a strong heart above all else.
It’s OK to be nervous.
Don’t be afraid.
Faith is stronger than fear.
Believe in your athletes.
Your athletes will draw strength from your confidence.
Sometimes athletes bury their greatness deep inside.
Dig, dig, dig and keep digging until you find greatness in each and every athlete. It’s there.
It’s OK for your athlete to run and be hurting.
It’s not OK for your athlete to run and be hurt.
Be your athletes’ biggest fan.
Respect and be open to the possibility that today may be the greatest day the athlete ever has.
Celebrate those days.
Make sure every athlete that comes to your practice leaves better in some way.
Thank your athletes for making you better in so many ways.
Remember that everyone is meant to be a runner.
That makes everyone an athlete.
Athlete’s need coaches.

Coaching Change

One of the things I love about coaching is that every day I am dealing with new athletes. It might be the same person in a literal sense but they are constantly changing as athletes. Yesterday always inspires today. And today will inspire tomorrow. That’s exciting to me.

How will the athlete react to these changes? To the potential they feel? To the glimpse of greatness they saw? To the setback(s)? To the enormity of the future? To the lack of a finish line? Will they overcome? Will they be overcome?

Will I?

If we’re really trying to get better, be better – than we have already agreed that we are trying to change. This change demands adjustments – and flexibility. And it demands us to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Change isn’t easy. It’s far simpler and easier to have your truth be the only one, your schedule to be written in pen instead of pencil, and to allow no second attempts after failure – or worse, no failure in your life at all.

But none of you run (live) expecting it to be easy. You run (live) because you are looking for change.

So I’ll show up at practice. Looking forward to seeing so many familiar faces on so many new athletes.

That’s one thing I hope never changes.

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Post inspired by listening to Archers of Loaf. Weird where the spark comes from sometimes. That’s why you always have to be looking.

An Exhausting Life

I used to be a different athlete than the one I am now. In some ways I imagine I will always be that same athlete somewhere deep inside. My time though, as an athlete first and everything else later, well, it came and it went. Sometimes it seems like I was on the starting line only yesterday. At other times, more now than before, it seems like it was all a different life.

And to them I am not an athlete.

I am their coach.

It is exhausting.

So many of these kids have never really run before they arrive at practice. Hell, more and more of them have never really ever competed in anything before they show up. It’s tough trying to explain to them what it means to run, truly run after greatness, your own greatness. It’s tough to explain how pure running is. It’s tough to explain the necessity of the suffering that running brings and why when you do suffer you don’t just stop and curl up in a small ball and cry but instead just keep on suffering and if possible suffer more. But, I have to explain it. I have to get them to understand. Explaining is exhausting.

I remember searching at times for something, anything positive in my own running when I just couldn’t do anything right. I remember feeling lost when it seemed that all I did was lose. Now I have 35 people that sometimes get lost, feel lost. It’s up to me to find them or at least let them know I am looking for them. That can be a lot of searching. It’s not easy. It’s exhausting.

When I was an athlete I always thought that if I just showed up I would get better. Now, they show up. Every day. And I have to come up with ways to get them better. And then when they get better I have to get them better than that. They want to always get better. Getting people better is exhausting.

As a runner it seemed that I was always walking on the edge of injury and sickness. Now, as a coach, I am walking in front, behind, alongside my athletes trying as best as I can to make sure that they don’t fall when they don’t have to or if they do fall I try to break that fall as best as I can. It can be exhausting.

When I was running I remember the stress when it came to colleges and recruiting. I remember the indecision and the confusion. Now as a coach, if I can maybe shoulder some of the burden, if I can ask the questions for them or at least stand with them maybe they won’t feel rushed or pressured. Maybe they will feel confident and relaxed. Maybe they can make the best decision for themselves. It’s a long process. It’s an exhausting process.

I remember how hard it was to do the little things when I was a runner. I remember thinking that a little thing skipped here or there was not a big deal. No one better hassle me. I run my miles. That should be enough. Now as a coach I harass them about icing and drinking water and gatorade and eating oranges and bananas and getting enough sleep and having a better diet and stretching the right way and doing drills and watching races and reading books. I’m annoying. Being annoying is exhausting.

I remember not believing in myself. Now I find myself as a coach trying to convince teenagers that they are better than they can possibly imagine. That the time, the personal best, is there inside already. Maybe the clock has not confirmed it yet but it is there. I know it. I know it before they do. I want them to believe in themselves the way I believe in them. Faith is exhausting.

Sometimes I hated running. Didn’t matter if I was running well or poorly. I loathed it. Wanted to quit it. I wanted to run away from running. Ironically. Now, I find myself telling them that I know how they feel. I understand. But, too bad. You love it too. And love always wins. Sorry. I don’t make the rules on these things. You want to complain? Go find two guys named Lennon and McCartney. Being broken by what you love is tiring. Putting someone back together is exhausting.

I find myself as a coach having to explain to some of them who Lennon and McCartney are. Having to deal with people who do not listen to the Beatles is exhausting

I remember when I was a runner wondering if it really was possible to reach my potential. Did I really have it inside me to keep working day after day. It seemed like just too much…something. Too much of everything was needed. Now I wonder if I am doing enough to help them. If I did more could they go higher? Can they make it to the top? When they do will they tell me what they see? Being a sherpa is exhausting.

I remember getting butterflies on race day. I remember getting butterflies just thinking about race day. Now I get butterflies for 40 races. That is like 100,000 butterflies. That many butterflies is exhausting.

I was an athlete. Now I am a coach.

It’s exhausting. Ask any coach. And if they are honest they will tell you that they have never slept better. We get to run dozens of races through our athletes every Saturday. We experience their highs and their lows. We get to fight the good fights and battle through those tough ones with them. We get to scream and cheer and get angry and frustrated and laugh and yes, cry right alongside all of our athletes.

It’s exhausting because we are alive the entire time we are coaching. We are involved. Life is not a spectator sport, Doc Sheehan once said. He was right. Life is not meant to be watched from the stands. It is meant to be lived racing around a great oval. Or from the infield. Life is for athletes…and coaches.

So if you find yourself in the bleachers get your butt up and out of that seat. Come down trackside. Don’t worry about the officials. Just act like you belong. (Because we all do.) Take a spot on the starting line and get ready to race. Or join me on the backstretch. I have work to do. Just like every other day. There’s always races to be run.

Remember, there are no rest days when it comes to this sport of life.

For a life fully lived should be exhausting.