Wednesday, January 13, 2010

You Cannot Coach Heart

I can teach you how to swim. I can coach you to great numbers on the bike. I can improve your running to far exceed your wildest aspirations. I can coach your attitude to a point.

Nobody cannot coach your heart.

If you cannot get your booty out of bed and to the gym, trail, pool, bike trainer; I cannot help you. I am up at 4am these days. Coming back to being competitive. Partially because I really want to and partially because I haven't been competitive for well, too long.

Most days my eyes (regardless of fatigue) open at 3:47 am. I get out of bed about 4am. Shave. Brush my teeth. Get dressed and by now my three month golden retriever is ready to go out. She has stretched, yawned a Snoopy-like yawn (full mouth open with a curled tongue) and has been watching me put my socks on. We go outside into the dark, frozen, lifeless morning and take care of business. I tuck Greta back into her doggie bed and say good-bye to Lorrie (first) and then Greta.

Yesterday, after the morning routine, I drove to CompuTrainer class (a brutal assault on my legs, lungs and taint) at 4:20 am and saw a shop in Palatine I had noticed before but never looked that closely. It was a simple shop in a strip mall. The sign said simply "JOBS". Outside in the 2 F weather were 35 men and women hoping to get a one day assignment for a local manual labor job. In a state where 11% unemployment rages, jobs and companies fleeing high taxes and political corruption, and the upcoming election has had less coverage than Conan vs. Leno a touch of perspective.

I have a tremendous opportunity to participate in triathlon and to coach athletes. I choose to do what I can to help myself and others. I choose to get up early and stay up late, because that is what it takes. The folks I saw huddling in the cold seemed to not have many choices. They certainly aren't going to the gym or spending time doing fun activities. Seems more like survival. More about this in a moment.

The heart has to want it. In the case of Ironman, real bad. If you half ass the preparation and diet be fully prepared to half ass the race. For examples, see my last two FL 70.3 race results. In fairness to me, I was hurt with different injuries the last two years. But in all honesty, I didn't swim masters. I didn't do four hour trainer rides. I didn't do what I could have regardless of injury.

One race day you'll see me smiling in transition. Telling dry jokes. Everyone (especially at "big" races) is looks like they are going to a funeral instead of a test of their preparation. Think of it this way, act calm, be calm versus feel tense act tense. I love the look on other competitors when you smile at a friend and shake hands as others look on wondering what you have that they don't.

Simply put, heart and a quiet mind.

This is the difference in my athletes. This is a step toward accessing "the zone". There are several factors and each athlete is different. Once you've found the zone, your coach should know how to get you back to the zone.

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