A Way of Reasoning
In sports science, measuring things is easy. The real skill lies in interpreting whether the data actually translates into meaningful change/action.” – Steve Magness
If coaching can be defined as “a blend of art and science,” I put more emphasis on the “art” than most. I believe we’re already oversaturated with data and advice on the science of peak performance and the jargon that goes with it. I prefer to tap into my understanding of human nature… and my infectious enthusiasm! In my experience, a few choice words from a trusted coach can inspire an athlete to exceed everyone’s expectations on race day, far more than even the most sophisticated data dump.
More than one thing can be true. While meticulous planning, scientific testing, and monitoring all have their place, they can’t give us a complete picture of our true, innate running ability. By over-focusing on tangible physiological benchmarks, we often overlook the intangibles. These are the psychological, spiritual, and even mystical factors that allow us to tap into our energies and unlock our hidden potential.
The word “philosophy” is used regularly within the running industry. There’s training philosophy, nutrition philosophy, mental philosophy, form/footwear philosophy… and the list goes on. Ease of communication and consistency of message is key.
Be Completely Clear Hearted
You cannot train alone and expect to run a fast time. There is a formula: 100% of me is nothing compared to 1% of the whole team. And that’s teamwork. That’s what I value.” – Eliud Kipchoge
Do you ever experience running as nourishing the higher part of yourself rather than running to achieve results? When you do something well, or endure something difficult, do you ever reward yourself with a run?
How high a value do you place on sportsmanship, cooperation, and teamwork? In today’s highly competitive, commercialized, corporate world, aspiring to these ideals can be complicated. Years ago, when I let winning and losing define my life, I had rough time. It wasn’t until I let go of looking good, final outcomes, beating my previous times or another person, that my self-confidence bloomed. I continued to compete hard of course… but not too hard.
The physiological affects of positive emotions such as caring, compassion or appreciation for someone or something can go a long way in helping people reduce their risky training behaviors. These heart-brain interactions actually cohere and soften the heart, which processes the good feelings and circulates positive information throughout the entire body. All this adds up to a heightened sensitivity to what works for us the basic self-awareness so important to optimal health, performance and enjoyment.
Be Very Observant
To use what I call coach’s eye’s – is vital to identify any potential problems with an athlete. As a coach you need to be aware of the many issues which may impact an athlete from overtraining to personal matters.” –Patrick Sang
Coaching and competing in every running distance from 100 meters to 100 miles impelled me to adopt a holistic perspective of running — one that honors the importance of the whole body and the interdependence of its parts. Viewed holistically, several factors determine a persons individual running style, including training, nutrition, psychology, and genetics (and the total impression they create).
There will always be those who are fitter and faster than us and those who are less fit and slower than us, just as there are individual differences in the need for rest and recovery. Having physical talent is one thing, but without a clear direction or adequate support in other areas of life, a runner may end up never fulfilling his or her true potential. The most important factor to consider is your own time process: where are you now compared to where you were before? Or, more importantly, where you will be six months from now?
What do you see when you try looking at yourself with a coach’s eyes? Are you too loose, too tight or just right in your approach to the challenges you are facing?
Not too Hard – Not too Easy
The ideal amount of intensity of training and the time it takes to affect the body positively varies greatly from person to person, depending on their overall health and wellbeing.”- Art
We’re all familiar with how much stress can arise due to competing demands on our time and attention. The time we spend running should help counteract these tensions by putting them in perspective and making them manageable.
The word “recover” means to regain health and balance. People often make the mistake of racing too frequently without adequately recovering from their hard efforts. Consequently, they fail to regain the good form and fitness they had built up through training. This often results in injury, disillusionment, or worst of all, giving up on running altogether. The inherent risk of these pitfalls increases markedly when you are running and racing at speeds/distances that are too far beyond your comfort zone.
If we’re really paying attention, we know when our running/racing regimen is putting too big a squeeze on our lives. The resulting stress may actually overshadow the health benefits of running. The good news is that burnout and injury are not an inevitable consequence of training hard; the solution can be as simple as prioritizing the workouts that give us the most satisfaction.