You know the story…it’s Christmas Vacation month here at F.M.S!
Frances: Talk about pissing your money away. I hope you kids see what a silly waste of resources this was.
Audrey Griswold: He worked really hard, Grandma.
Art: So do washing machines.
There is nothing more deflating than putting in the time and effort of training for the big race only to come up short of your goal on the race day. If you run and race long enough, you’ll experience both the thrill of PR’s and the disappointment of poor race performances. It’s part of being a self-taught, coach-less athlete. Races are mirrors that reflect back your preparation, strategy, and training. You may not like what you see but - and this is the important part - YOU own it.
When you plan smart, train hard, and execute on race day, there is no one to thank (besides your spouse and support crew – do NOT forget that) but yourself. You did the research. You put together the plan. You did the training. Finally, you ran the race. To me, this is the ultimate thrill. It’s me against the watch. Man vs. Machine. Or Man vs. Self? Someone call a philosopher.
If you’ve visited this corner of the internets before, you are familiar with my anti-coach diatribes for the amateur athlete. The number one reason I promote self-coaching is because of the feeling I get when I cross the finish line. When I look at that clock and realize that I just blew the doors off a PR, I’m overwhelmed with pride, happiness, and a deep feeling of accomplishment. My plan worked. I did this. Likewise, if the race doesn’t go to plan, who’s to blame? Well, the kids for one. And maybe that guy over there. And the snow and rain. And who measured this course? But deep inside, I know it’s all me. Something didn’t work with my training and preparation. There’s no one with which to transfer my success or blame. If I don’t like the post-race reflection, I need to analyze the image presented to find the flaws.
I think you earn a deeper, more meaningful appreciation of your self and the sport when you coach yourself. Now, I have nothing against those wanting to take the short cut by hiring a coach. That’s fine. Everyone chooses their own path. Certainly, competitive, semi-pro or pro runners would be expected to have a professional coach. But for the weekend warrior runner – the equivalent of the pick-up hoops guy or softball guy – why would you bypass the true joy found in the sport of running? I’ve learned more about myself through the trial-and-error process of preparing for races than I have through any other activity. It’s not about the miles; it’s about the journey of finding your own way.
Sure, like an old washing machine, I might clunk around for awhile working out the kinks in a training plan. I consult books, magazines, blogs, and fellow runners for tips. There’s a wealth of free information available to you at your fingertips. I follow the simple maxim “Listen to everyone; follow no one.” Sometimes I open the washing machine lid and the clothes are still full of soap. Sometimes the colors stained. And sometimes I left gum in my pocket.
It’s not enough to train hard. You must also train smart. Make adjustments. Check the mirror. Listen to your Inner Art but don’t let him have the last word. If you’ve hired a coach for some reason, listen to your Outer Art, in that case. But, please, don’t let the Outer Art rob you of your personal journey to your running goal.
Because sometimes the clothes come out of the old washing machine crisp and clean and perfect. And the only person to congratulate is the one staring at you in the mirror. That’s when you feel a deeper level of satisfaction!
Sorry for the mixed metaphors of washing machines and mirrors. I couldn’t decide which so I said ‘why not go with both? They’ll never notice.’ And you didn't, did you?!