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June 23, 2009

Hope – by Chuckie V

I really enjoy Chuckie’s blog. If you don’t read it already, I suggest you do. You can find it here

This piece of wisdom came through this morning. Check it out…

“Training is principally an act of faith.” –Franz Stampfl (1955)

I’ve finally figured out why I’m not filthy rich or famous. I coach triathletes. (Oh, and you’ll note there’s no comma between filthy and rich). Anyway, it’s a brutal reality and I’m forced to face facts: Hollywood would never throw together a movie about a triathlon coach, especially one who hasn’t maimed anyone (or been caught maiming anyone, anyway). You see, Hollywood wants characters that are in possession of big loud firearms or really fast cars that can leave the ground, neither of which I possess (or care to). A chase scene involving a multisport coach having to push-start his old Datsun pick-up truck just wouldn’t have the same effect, even if really speedy music (Kenny G or Yanni, for example) were blasting through the Surround Sound speakers. Yes, the best one could hope for as a multi-sport coach is that an athlete of his might achieve his or her goals.

And this is the thing about coaching. No matter what any other coach tries to tell/sell you, much of your relationship with him/her is based on HOPE. And while my hopes of becoming a movie star grow fainter with each passing triathlon season I still cling to the hope that when race day arrives the athletes I guide NAIL IT. There are no guarantees in coaching or racing (or in life) of course, and it makes for a tough occupation to choose. For example, you can write the best script (training program) imaginable, but then have Tom Cruise act it out. (No offense to Tom, but my guess is he’d be a better triathlete than he is an actor, but then again, that’s not saying much…)
So why do coaches coach?

Well, because there are hordes of athletes out there who haven’t a clue as to what they’re doing, and they could use the help. (Unfortunately, this also applies to many of the coaches themselves, but let’s pay no heed to that for now.) To boot, loads of these athletes have money to burn; paying someone to assist you in achieving a hard-to-reach goal is as good as any other way to spend it (and is, in my estimation, a far superior disbursement of funds than purchasing a pricey bicycle might be, depending on the coach chosen of course) and coaches are sure to advertise this to prospective athletes.

But if hope is such a big part of it all, then what good is a coach?

Because hope beats the alternative.

Now of course it’s implicitly understood that hope is not an effective strategy in life (or, for that matter, in triathlon). And while your training must certainly instill hope, you still need to know you’re far better off whether your hope has increased or not. You need to know that while your coach may not drive a fast car that can leave the ground, he or she possesses the tools that can help bring out your best. And you should see it occurring, maybe not during every single workout, but little by little. There needs to be a trend revealed that proves you’re better now than you were then, whenever then was and now is (ideally then is before coach and now is after coach). And if it’s not your race results themselves, that trend must also relate to your final destination, your goal. If, for example, training shows progress in your slam-dunking skills but you’re training for a triathlon, it’s not really the right kind of training, I’m afraid. But back to the then and now thing for a second. A wise old coach once told me that while it takes time to bring out your absolute best you can also do it at this very moment, along with the next moment and the next one and the next. To be your best then, all you’ve got to do is be your best now and up until then. How easy is that?!

great piece. thanks Chuckie.

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