Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Coaching Nostalgia

First off I consider myself lucky. I coach on the track I ran on in high school. I report to the man who coached me in high school. Not many people can say they have these rights. That said, today was a special day. It was not that I was able to run, I do that nearly every day, but I was able to run with my runners today who normally leaves me in the dust. He is a junior and I have redacted his name, but he is the last of our distance boys. Our girls team is well represented, but our boys fell apart at the district level. On Saturday, April 27, he will run the 3200m in the state meet, he is seeded 11th based on season bests, but recent results put him in the running for a podium finish in a tactical race.

He was not always this good. I remember him as the awkward freshman that could barely finish a race, much less break 20:00 in a 5k (he runs in the low 16:00’s now). Pain was not his friend, pain was his crutch, his reason not to run. But he grew. The first time he broke 20:00 came on the beach, in a 5k I dragged him to in order to help pace me on a Mother’s Day morning. All he decided to do was win the thing, barefoot. So, we used to run together with little problem. Today, we only do so when he needs to go slow and I want to pick the pace up a bit, meeting in the middle on days where it meets our goals. Today was one of those days, a day where he wanted to recovery from his last speed session of the year and needed some company.

Before I go farther, I didn’t make this runner, in fact I’m not sure any runner is ever made—he made himself. Sweat, determination, and a growing immunity to pain have crafted him into the man he is. But for the last three years, I have been his sounding board. We discussed minimalist running together, barefoot training, and he now runs exclusively in the style, wearing Vivobarefoot Evo, New Balance Minimus, and Skora Form (often he will run workouts sans shoes regardless of the surface). He throws nutritional plans at me, personal training regimens for the offseason (he is famous for going outside our training plans), strength work, and seeks out inspiration. His questions keep me moving, digging, and searching for answers. Over the past few years, I’ve watched him change and grow, and even though we speak daily, the running part has become a distant past.

Today I was able to learn where he is, what he plans to do in his race Saturday—we literally discussed every lap, situation, scenario, and goal. More importantly, he has committed to guts. He wants to run on guts and determination, not just Saturday, but every day for the next 365 days, until his senior season comes to halt at next year’s state competition. Lofty summer mileage goals (700+), time commitments, team goals, and well a lifetime of running mark his mind. He wants to instill the idea in his teammates, to create a program based on want and power as much as natural talent. In his mind, the sky is the limit. Thus the nostalgia—I’ve had the pleasure of watching him grow. I have the pleasure of running on the same track I ran on high school, working for the same man that coached me. Hopefully, it doesn’t change, hopefully this runner reaches his goals, just as I aim to reach mine.

Current Goals:
Guana last year via Speedy Banana
  • Break 20:00 again in a 5k. Last time I did this was high school. My recent PR was a 20:06 in February. 
  • Drop my marathon time in two stages:
  • Run my first Ultra, a 50k, on December 1, 2013. The Guana 50K Trail race.
Skora Cores

Current Shoe Rotation:
  • Skora Form for recovery and length 
  •  Altra One for recovery and length
  • Skora Core for speed and shorter distances 

Skora Phase, a mesh version of the Core.

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