Sometimes I wonder about the folks who come out, train for a while, then suddenly "fall off the face of the earth." I understand what I call (for lack of a better term) parentism, as well as juggling jobs, home lives, spouses, other commitments, and taking up new and added challenges (Golf!? We're talking golf!?). I've said 'we're not getting paid to do this, so don't make it a job.' One of my newer runners mentioned to me the other night about scout meetings and ball practices that would keep him away. I told him, 'no problem. Make it out when you can; run on your own when you can't. Even one good track workout a week is better than none, as long as you get some easy runs in the meantime.'
What gets under my skin:
First, the assumption I should chase people down. I guess I would be more active in this endeavor if my livelihood were based on their attendance/dues. But I'm not making a living from it. My first few months were about keeping up with everyone, trying to keep them coming out. Now, I try not to take it too personally when they decide to not show for a time. Doesn't mean I don't love them, but I've got business to take care of.
Second, the assumption I should phone/e-mail/visit in case I don't see the athlete once a week. While I maintain a religious undertone when talking about running, I'm not a pastor. Athletes missing practices are not committing a mortal sin. I usually send out an e-mail every week-to-ten days about races, workouts, social functions, so I can be reached by punching the reply key on the e-mail. My voice mail works pretty well, as well as my four e-mail accounts. And with three track workouts, one long and two short road runs during the week, and the Friday night dinner/social, the only way to keep from communicating with me is - like my junior college American History professor said about how to fail his course - with great difficulty. The only way to do it is by avoiding me on purpose.
Third, the assumption I should laud or applaud an athlete's return. I'm pleased to see anyone who's been away a while, but unless the rationale for absence is parentism, work/school or injury/recovery, it's 'glad you're out here, now it's time to get with the program.'
I love each and every person who shows up to train with me; while they may not be the toughest or fastest runners in the area, they all show great potential. And it's neat to see them improve. As they say in Maori: Kia Kaha. Stay Strong.