A couple of weeks ago I read through the local running club's (e-mail) newsletter and learned a coach from the local college has agreed to provide free individually-focused weekly speed workouts at one of the local high school track facilities.
My first reaction was to say, "Honey, did you see this?"
After about ten years, off-and-on, of working with individuals and small groups - sometimes growth from individuals into small groups, other occasions small groups trickling off to individuals - I couldn't help but smile and say, "Finally! The local run club is approaching what I think is their core mission."
Since I've played in most if not all corners of the proverbial sandbox it's a given I have some strong opinions about the players which make up the running community; the roles and responsibilities, and the situations where they probably need to withdraw their nose so as to not get it bent out of shape. And I catch enough hatred and discontent, enough "get over yourself, 'coach.'"
With the term 'coach' used in a derisive manner.
Usually by people who haven't read the 'blog title. It's okay. After all this time I see myself less as "coach" and more as "guru." Besides, people like the transcendental nature of a teacher/guide more so than they like the hard-and-fast "do this" nature of a coach.
A guy who has a job working with athletes, who earns a paycheck based on academic or professional credentials, is (in my humble opinion) a welcome addition to a running community. When talking about the "pie" (defined as potential users, money, recognition, whatever floats your proverbial boat...), more "pie" is good; more "pie consumers" not so much, at least not without more "pie." And the arrival couldn't have come at a better time. I've considered on several occasions what it would be like to not be a "pie consumer" (even of "my" infinitesimal portion), and almost completely stepped away a second time.
When a national governing body for sport decides certifications (especially the process to maintain professional currency) can be an income stream but doesn't place equivalent worth... I've said on many occasions. "This certification, and $2.25, will get me a cup of coffee at a Denny's in Deming, New Mexico. If I decide to cross the line of protesters." Just because my Ni..., oops, USA Track and Field coaching certificate expires on 31 January 2016 doesn't mean I'll be less-effective on 1 February, should someone want me to help them be a better runner.
Define "a better runner." Sometimes I cannot help but understand why folks who want to get off the couch and enjoy the fresh air and scenery at a pace slower than a drive but faster than sitting still. Especially without all the political bologna; most of us have forty hours a week of political bologna, and that's without counting the television, radio or social media. And those athletes who operate at the highest levels of performance aren't immune from it, either. What a frustration it can be for a young man or woman who is forced to renege on a legally-binding agreement with the person who writes their checks, just because another person has a bigger ego, a bigger checkbook, and the inability to collaborate, compromise, develop a mutually-agreeable course of action, or at least a convenient flap on the jacket, a'la Reebok and the 1992 Olympic basketball team.
"A fish rots from the head down."
Which doesn't surprise me when those of us closer to "the tail" decide to run in "virtual events." No timing, no schedule, no hassle. Just sign up, run the distance, and pay for the finisher medal. Sounds pretty simple. Someone who wants to do those kind of events, or get up every morning and run for the sheer joy of the act, who might want to merely improve upon the "them" they were last week, last month, or even last year...perhaps that is the purest definition of "better runner?"