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.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Feedback, Continued

Someone suggested last week (through the survey/grapevine) I needed to be less ego-driven and more nurturing, less short-tempered. It was a response I kind of shrugged off; consider the source as someone who didn't want to hear me tell them what I felt they needed to do (one of those things a coach - and a person who is in charge - does).
I did get a little reinforcement of the perception the other afternoon: One of my athletes tries to come out once a week and works hard when at the track. They mentioned I got a little cranky during a workout the previous week. Of course, I was surprised at the honesty in bringing the issue to my attention. I quickly explained myself and told them I would make an honest effort to not be so short-tempered.
It was easy to figure out the root cause of the cranky moods. When I'm trying to run my own workout and organize/supervise...or, better yet, coach other runners at the same time I can get a little short, sweet and to the point. When you're training, it's all about me is the mantra; how much sleep do I need to recover, how much time do I need to set aside for this long run, this cross-training, this therapeutic modality (massage and stretching for those of you who hate those fancy words), and so on. It makes spouses, employers, and family members lose their even keel...especially when they are the ones who always have to adjust their (overcommitted) schedules to fit those of the runner.
In performance improvement, we are often told to ask the why question four or five times in order to get down to the real root cause of the problem.
Problem: Coach Mike is cranky.
Why is Mike cranky? Because he feels his workouts (at the same time as his athletes) are interrupted to deal with stuff.
Why are Mike's workouts interrupted? Because Mike is running his at the same time as his athletes.
Why is Mike running at the same time? Because Mike has a work project that keeps him from running earlier in the afternoon. Mike also has an athlete who runs workouts by himself and needs to control his pace a little better.
So, one issue meets one root cause, or two. Coach Mike's real job (which cannot be changed all that much) compresses his schedule. Coach Mike has an athlete who is running faster than he needs to be at this time of the year. Normally, I wouldn't gripe too much, save for the painfully obvious fact running hard during the heat of the Florida summer is going to do a number on your body. I could let this athlete drive himself into the ground, or I could suggest from the sidelines that he back off. When recommending an easing back on the throttle, I get the I only went (blank) seconds faster on this 400 than the last one response. Of course, then I have to mention another painfully obvious fact; multiply those (blank) seconds on that 400 by four and figure the difference per mile. Bouncing around with (blank x four)-second variations per mile of running is not the way to become a good runner.
I tend to set high (and often, unrealistically high) expectations for myself. I have always done this, not to mention projecting those high expectations onto those around me. In educational theory, it's a well-proven fact teachers who set and communicate high expectations for their students find the students will meet those expectations more often than not. So, while it may seem to the outsider I do not care to the persons who don't want to vault over the bar I set, the exact opposite is true. I care a great deal about every athlete who expresses the desire to improve and makes the honest, consistent and continuous effort to improve.
It's all I can ask from any athlete. It's all I'm entitled to ask from any athlete.

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