Thursday, October 27, 2011

Patience and Persistence

Wherein I dispense my single greatest running advice.

Most of you know that I look with sideways glance, pursed lips and skeptically cocked right eyebrow* at amateur running coaches with their neat looking online coaching certificates. I’m not going to go in to All The Ways that I think coaching should best be left to professionals. And those seeking coaches should also probably best be left to professionals (or overachieving amateurs.) You’ve read it here several times already. It’s one of my Go To targets when I need something fun to ridicule because I have no doubt that it ruffles some feathers as, ultimately, all running bloggers become coaches.** Besides lame metaphors, llama hatred, and mildly amusing sarcasm, feather ruffling is what this blog is all about after all. Suffice to say, I think amateur runners should be encouraged to explore, investigate, and experiment on their own to learn their abilities – what works for them – and discover their path to success without an amateur coach stealing their journey.

***"The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” Don Williams, Jr. (American Novelist and Poet, b.1968)

*** “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” Greg Anderson (American best-selling Author and founder of the American Wellness Project., b.1964)

So, far be it for me to offer up unbelievably sage running advice right? Wrong. I’ll need four Philadelphias to tell you why. My hypocrisy knows no bounds. I talk out of both sides of my mouth so much that I can harmonize these conflicting thoughts like a grade A Philadelphia street corner a cappella group. But bear with me as I think you’ll also see I’m not robbing you of your journey like some sort of Philadelphia street corner mugger. Nor am I overloading you with unwanted running advice like so much cheese on a Philly cheesesteak sandwich. Philadelphia! Four! (Wish you would have written that paragraph, amirite?)

If you are in it for the short term, a quick one off marathon and done, hire your running coach. If you have money to burn, hire your running coach. If you are so incredibly lazy that you can’t spend ten minutes of your time doing a few quick Google internet searches, hire your running coach. If you can’t motivate yourself to set down your remote and lace up the shoes, hire a running coach. If any of that applies to you and you still really feel you need a coach, give me twenty minutes and I’ll put together an impressive, official looking Coach certificate. I charge $75 an hour. Email me. When your marathon is over, you can have the certificate and now you’re a coach too. (I’ll write my name on it in pencil for ease of transfer.)

But here’s my running advice for you budding long term runners, presented in total alliterative form: Patience pand Persistence. Here it is again in much clearer partial alliteration: Patience and Persistence. That’s it. You’re welcome. That’ll be $75.

Oh, but what does that mean?

You want it in alliteration or regular? Let’s go regular. ‘P’ jokes are only funny for so long. If running is part of your lifestyle – if you do it regularly and intend to continue for the foreseeable future – you’ve already developed your Persistence. It’s a habit. Like a good postman, you do it in rain, snow, heat or gloom of night. Whether you recognize it or not, you’ve probably already adjusted your training based on your training and/or race performances. You’ve done more speed work. You’ve added hills. You started wearing magnetic bracelets and offered a pet as a sacrifice to Dick Beardsley. Internet? Oh, yeah, you’ve been to Hal Higdon, McMillan Running, Complete Running. You have a subscription to Runner’s World. You read blogs. For some reason, you’re even reading this blog. In short, you know where to find the information you need. It’s all out there. Running coaches don’t have some secret stash of knowledge. This isn't the DaVinci Code. There's nothing hidden under the Johnny Kelley statue. Then you mix and match and try things out. Persistence, you haz it.

Now, I’m going to stop right here because I can already here the 3 hour marathoner snorting derisively and saying, Nitmos, you don’t know what you are talking about. I needed a coach to fulfill my dreams. You, sir or madam, are an overachiever and in the top 2% of runners. You are not the target audience. You are not like the rest of us. You want to pay for a coach to get you into the top 1.9% bracket? Knock yourself out (but I’m guessing you don’t hire some dude or dudette with an online coaching certificate.) In my head, that’s how the conversation goes, anyway.

For the rest of us amateurs, our persistence will pay off through our…patience. That’s right, patience. I know the ultimate goal for a lot of runners is to get from A to B as fast as possible (implied: without pooping self). And sometimes you want something so badly that you speed up the process by increasing mileage too quickly or doing more interval speed work than your body is prepared to handle. Or mentally beating yourself up if improvement isn't going as fast as you hoped. You want to PR a race in two months. You want to BQ at your next marathon. In other words, forget the patience, like Violet Beauregarde, you want it and you want it now. But if you attempt to grow more quickly than your body can reasonably respond, you’ll pull a Krispy Kreme. Sure, it’ll work for awhile – remember when Krispy Kreme’s were all the rage? – but then it may just fall apart in the form of injury or frustration or a Rick Perry campaign.

Patience. It’s good enough that your race times are slowly going down - even if it is falling slower than you had hoped. Remember, you are persistent and you can be patient. It's downward trending. I always wanted to BQ and got lucky doing so in my second marathon. But I didn’t place all of my hopes on that race so I wouldn’t have been disappointed if it didn’t happen. I knew my training was getting better with each passing week, month, year. I would be patient. I would be persistent. It would take what it took but I would get there.

Stand back and look at the big picture of your running, your abilities, and how things that was so hard are not so hard anymore. It doesn’t look good over the last few months? Then stand further back and take in more of the big picture. Heck, if you need to, back up all the way to Philadelphia (!).

Patience and persistence, baby. When I get frustrated with my training, I always remember those words. They soothe me like a nipple suckling baby. And, see there? I didn’t rob you of your journey. You’ll find your own path to your goals and you’ll be the richer due to your uniquely personal introspective journey. This even applies to you goofy barefoot bastards.

But if that’s not good enough – things need to happen quicker and you believe someone is holding a secret cheesesteak of knowledge just past your outreached arms - email me and I can turn around and email back a training plan for you in about ten minutes and 12 mouse clicks. Fee, as always, is $75.

Happy trails.

*You may score ten points for Gryffindor if you tried this at home – before reading this footnote.

**Running Blogger Life Cycle:
New Runner -->Run Blogger -->Improving Runner -->Running Coach

Where are you in the cycle?


Richard said...

Way too serious of a post. It started well and went uphill from there. I am disappointed..

Hope you are not freezing your arse off up there yet.

Viper said...

Damn, so much for my "I'm a coach now" post I was planning. Maybe I'll just add more advertisements. My revenues aren't coming in fast enough. Cheers!

Adam said...

I've batted the rotation!! What do I win? Although, I might argue that I was a mid pack runner before I started blogging....well, and my blogging wasn't about running at first...But, now I'm a fully fledged running coach with a certificate. Hooray!

As usual, you make 3-4 good points with enough snark and words that I have to look up in a dictionary to keep me coming back for more.

You're right, though. Most people who have the time or the drive honestly could use an online plan and do just fine. (I do/have for 13 marathons now) However, it seems that the few people that I coach are looking for more than an online training plan to tell them what to do. They want someone to ask questions and not feel guilty, someone who will email them and hold them accountable, or (honestly - like you said) someone that just wants their one and done marathon. If 1 out of 10 of the one and done'ers sticks with it that is enough for me. That is, as long as the other 9 out of 10 line up in a coral behind me.

All of that said, my feathers remain strangely unruffled. You should take on the occupy wall-street people next. Those guys need to stop complaining and get back to their movie theater jobs.

My word verification was tendal. I knew a guy in high school with that last name

Jill said...

I've been running for 36 years, had a scholarship to run the mile in college, run 17 marathon (and close to 400 others), endured and persevered - one 2-year long foot injury, and have been a high school track coach for 5 years (to highlight a few off the ol' resume)....and I still consider myself a new runner. I learn new things about running every single day. I LOVE that!! And I love to share my experience - good or bad, up or down - on the blog and with others. Some people are needier than others and I'm glad I can help those who feel they need some direction...I know I never could have run to the ability I did without my college track coach and all his hand-holding, and I know the runners at our high school would never excel without the direction of our incredible coaches.

Not that I'm being defensive or anything. :) Our state track meet is Saturday...and one of our kiddos *should* run #1 - I am so proud to be a big part of that! Go Buffs!

David said...

Four Phillies? Fourteen meows is the standard.

Jamoosh said...

If you are coaching online - you are not a coach.

Running Through Phoenix said...

Can we do Paypal for this? Huh coach? Can I?

Sun Runner said...

I qualified for Boston in my second marathon as well.

And now I'm back at square one, having lost all my speed and stamina. I have to do everything for a second time. Patience. It's all I've got anymore.

Since I don't have any birds, my "irritation" metaphors lean towards the "rumpling of fur" type.

Anonymous said...

call me picky - you mean Veruca Salt (wants a goose who lays golden eggs, a chick band was named after her), not Violet Beauregarde (chews gum, "Violet, you're turning violet, Violet")

Anonymous said...

running life 'cycle' implies a return to some phase - so based on the perspective of the individual perhaps before you submit your paper Run Bloggers, Inc maybe your thesis should be the running life path.

TCHusker - Nate said...

Loved this post. Let me know when you want to break into that 1.9%. I've got a great coach for you.

eliz said...

You're like a V8 juice...thanks, I needed that.

drea said...

Ah damn, yes I need to be soothed. Where's that nipple....