My old Reebok Buddies "playing" in the mud at the U.S. Cross Country Championships. I am number 40 in the picture. We had one of the best cross-country teams in the nation at this race in Raleigh, North Carolina.
All The Time And Accomplishments Fade
All the times and accomplishments fade. What you will remember most are the relationships you made along the journey, hands down. Cherish them. No one will remember all the kudos and achievements on their deathbed. You'll remember people and the impact you did or didn't have in their lives.
No Limits Thinking
Never limit what you can do as an athlete or if you coach what an athlete can accomplish based on running formulas, the latest research, or someone's opinion. There is absolutely no quantifying the desire of the human heart. Use training research as a guide, but remember that desire, heart, and intrinsic motivation move mountains.
If you are a coach, bring your unique personality to coaching. Don't try to copy another coach's style. Learn from others, assess your strengths and weaknesses, and find people to help cover your weaknesses in your coaching practice. Always check your ego at the door by finding others to help you where you struggle.
I am the loudest coach I know. My athletes hear me across the track telling them to work on their form. Other coaches are quiet and would fail with this approach. Be who you were meant to be and explain “the why” behind your style to the people you serve.
Innovation Starts With Coaches
Breakthroughs in training usually happen with innovative coaches and runners who practice their craft every day. Scientists then study how coaches and athletes created their breakthroughs. Never let a lack of credentials stop you.
Take ownership of your learning and become a breakthrough coach or athlete through your own research and hard work.
An example of a breakthrough coach is Arthur Lydiard, who helped pioneer modern training decades ago. It took many years for the exercise physiologists to catch up with Lydiard. Be open to innovations in your coaching practice.
You're never too old to learn. One of my mentors is over 90 years old! I am constantly learning and challenging the status quo to see if there is a better way. And there are some fantastic people to learn from if you check your ego at the door.
Use Systems Thinking
Remember that training is a system, not a single event. Helping an athlete reach their God-given potential requires a systems approach to training. How can you help each athlete physically, mentally, and spiritually? How will you help the athletes you coach with their unique struggles in life? How will you involve physical therapists, biomechanical experts, massage therapists, athletic trainers, and other professionals in your coaching practice?
Be More Than An Athletic Coach
A great running coach is a life coach. Every aspect of an athlete's life should matter to a coach, not just how fast they run. Find ways to help others reach their God-given potential in all aspects of their lives.
There Are Good And Bad Coaches At Every Level
There are good and bad coaches at every level, from elementary school to post-collegiate programs. I've coached beginning runners to world-class runners for decades now. I started out coaching post-collegiate runners and Olympic Trials athletes. Surprisingly, some of the best coaches I've ever known at other schools or clubs work at the high school level because they love working with youth and seeing them improve.
There Is No Substitute For Hard Work
Hard work does beat talent when talent does not work hard. I've seen this over and over again. Don't fall into the trap of "Seven Easy Steps To Success." Hard work always matters. Success is never easy.
Work With Who Is In Front Of You
Some kids are born to be great runners, and it is very obvious that running is their God-given gift and best sport. However, parents or others won't let them participate in running for various reasons. It is very frustrating for a coach to see all that potential go down the drain and for a child to possibly miss what they were wired to do. However, you must let it go and work with who is before you.
Challenge The Status Quo
There is no limit to record-breaking performances. Records are all made to be broken. Over my lifetime, I've heard scientists and others say records can't be broken. This is pessimistic and status-quo thinking. Innovative coaches and athletes always find a way to go where no man has gone before. They challenge the status quo and uncover new methods to improve regardless of the current thinking of the day.
You Have Three Choices When Things Get Tough
You have three choices when challenged by negative people in your coaching practice. Give up, give in, or give it all you've got. Choose the last option, and don't let undue criticism penetrate your heart.
What Matters Most
Focus on and remember the people you helped along the way and the blessings of being able to serve and love others in this journey called life.
Perhaps my friend, former United States Collegiate Heptathlon Champion Patsy Walker-Pointer, said it best:
"The relationships gained throughout the world that still stand today are the greatest treasures that came out of it all."
Copyright 2023 Larry Weber