Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Coach’s Dilemma

While making my travels around the city this week, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend settling into the metropolis that has left me rather alarmed and somewhat perplexed. Well, it’s not the whole metropolis per se, rather just the places I frequent and the people I see. For some reason, in the midst of daily conversation and the usual pleasantries exchanged between my running friends, I’ve been hearing a whole lot of cuss words and sensing an extraordinary high level of animosity. The average New Yorker would have you believe that it’s nothing usual, or rather, that it’s just a sign of the times. Under the tough current economic climate in which we live and following day-by-day the stressful emotional roller-coaster that is the New York Mets playing baseball, it’s a wonder that there are still any tourists left in this town. Ah, but only I know that it hasn’t got anything to do with Wall Street or playoff baseball or the presidential debate or premieres week on TV or Dean Karnazes running for 2 days straight on a treadmill or even David Blaine hanging upside down from a string in the middle of Central Park for 60 hours. Maybe that’s because all the anger and animosity, hatred and venom, and all the cuss words that I haven’t dared use since my mouth was last washed out with soap twenty years ago were all directed at ME!

Yes people, you heard right. I’ve found myself on the wrong end of a profanity-laden tirade for more times than I can remember this week. So what have I done to deserve this onslaught of defamation of character? Umm, nothing much. I just foolishly agreed to take on the task of playing running coach for a few of my friends who are running the New York City Marathon a few months back.

It’s a thankless job really, I’ll have you know, in case some of you out there are thinking of doing the same. First you have to spend countless hours familiarizing yourself with the strength and weaknesses of each runner. Then you have to look up race results and figure out appropriate training paces for everyone. Then you have to figure out their work schedules, weekend plans, extracurricular time commitments, sporting demands, relationship obligations, pet affinities, menstrual cycles, astrologic signs, and the like as you build a marathon training plan that will carry them through the summer and fall towards their individual goal marathon. Then, as training initiates, you have to set aside personal time to run with them as you impress upon them the virtues of form and technique, rest and recovery, as well as the basics of proper hydration and nutrition. As the weeks roll by, and the mileage increases, injuries mount and you have to do your best to play doctor and psychologist as you listen and advise, commiserate and persuade, and teach to run strong yet taper each step of the way. And now, when the marathon is just five short weeks away and everyone is at the peak of their training, is when the job gets really tough. Now is the time when everyone and their mother will be mad at you for something or other. Your runners are swearing at you up and down for making them run more miles than they’d ever done in their lives. Their boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, and wives hate you because they think their mates are secretly having an affair because they haven’t seen them since the last calendar year. Even their moms will call you up and demand to know why their little Johnny or Mary is walking around with black toes and limping worse than a paraplegic forced to walk with a cane. Meanwhile, no one knows or cares how you’re running because to them relatively fast and a little experience equals invincibility.

I can’t wait for five weeks from now when not every sentence I hear will be along the lines of “Oh hey, I was just done cursing you out for the last five miles of my twenty mile long run.” Yet every year I find myself in the same place, helping more, encouraging more and recruiting more to run a marathon and in the process be more fit than they ever thought they would be. That is until late September when I’ll once again be frustrated by the climate of antagonistic and bitter feelings that I’ve created.

In this world full of uncertainty and instability, it’s nice to know that some things will never change. Carry on. I seriously do hope everyone’s training is going well.


nwgdc said...

A: David Blaine's HOAX was an absoulute fiasco. WTF WAS that? Being a man without cable and limited TV viewing options, this really put my undies in a bundle.
B: Regarding the Mets, GO BREWERS!!!
C: Regarding your volunteerism as training...stick with it, the rewards are far greater than the urge to strangle someone.
D: Thank you for your kind words in response to my latest blog entry. This is, in all honesty, a great life learning experience for me, as it did happen fast, and it was ugly, and I'm working through it.

Thanks again, Lam. Your true concern comes through in your writing.

Run For Life said...

Runners are masochists in certain respects and you've found another area of that. Good for you!

sRod said...

...on the up side, you are probably developing a reputation as a badass if so many people are cursing your name.

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