So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Monday, August 27, 2007

All About Soul

Had to juggle a boatload of stuff this morning on my way out the door...of course, those mornings where I meet the man with the rubber stick mean a longer stay in bed, and a shorter window of time to get to the gym without p!$$!ng someone off because they are on the last spinning bicycle with Look pedals...and they're wearing running shoes...and there's another bike they can ride. As always, another story. Actually, it wasn't the moment of getting out the door to the car that was entertaining. It was getting from the car to the locker after the spinning workout. Clean clothes, water bottles, Snickers Marathon bars, eyeglasses, sunglasses, wallet...and the hits just keep on coming...
"This life isn't fair; it's gonna get dark, it's gonna get cold. You've gotta get tough, but that ain't enough; it's all about soul..." - Billy Joel, "All About Soul" (1993)
TLC's spin-off to Miami Ink featuring Kat Von D, LA Ink, started this last week. Great program. One of the artists Kat recruited to work her shop - Corey Miller - is an absolute genius...not that the other two artists are that bad in their own right. However, Miller's work is completely original. He did a design on a guy's arm, sketching with a ball-point pen and working forward...then with the tattoo gun. No xerox machines, computer-generation, light tables for this guy, no sir. I marveled as I watched this man work, comparing his craft to the advertising campaign of a local tattoo parlor (touting computerized designs, templates, and the like). In comparison, Miller's work is so soulful - the man's essence was put into the labor.
I couldn't help but think about the similarity between tattooing and coaching. Each person has a background story, a reason for coming to me. I can use the myriad of tools available to everyone (computer programs, books, calculators), but if I don't put my soul into it I'm doing no more than a tracing of someone else's work. All the research, prior workouts, races (both good and bad) and life experience will have gone for naught. In the same vein, an athlete who comes to the track with strong preconceptions of how their training should go (usually based upon something they've read in Runner's World, "Galloway's Great Big Honkin' Book o' Stuff," etc.) usually has missed a big portion of the story.
It's like going to a tattoo artist with a photo of something you've seen on someone and asking for the same d@mned thing.
As the late runner-philosopher/author George Sheehan said, we are all an experiment of one. Taking a cookie-cutter approach to training may - or may not - be effective. Downloading a list of workouts, paces, distances and times can be all well and good, but it's all in a vacuum. While I may write a training plan (in macro) weeks or months in advance, the last two hours leading into the workout are fraught with deep thought: How do I (or my athletes) feel today? What are the weather conditions? Is there a race in the coming weekend? As always, if I had a dollar for every time I've planned a workout and did something completely different once I got to the track, I'd have enough for at least another coaching book...ha, ha, ha...
The training plan, writ large, months in advance may be the heart, but the two hours of thought spent on the couch, walking through the kitchen, and especially the last half-hour during the drive to the track...are the soul of coaching.

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