A Coach's Extremes

Racing is hard.

Being a coach can be as hard or harder.

A coach has zero control over what his or her athletes do on race day. Their training can be perfect, their taper precise, but if something goes wrong on race day it can all go out the window.

Watching as things go from bad to worse is challenging to say the least.

However, there are the times when everything comes together and one of your runners has an amazing race. Those times are priceless.

Over the span of 3 days I experienced both extremes of coaching. On Thursday my high school cross country team ran in their largest race of the season. We had discussed how running in such a massive field (200-400 runners per race) could be a good thing or a bad thing. We discussed how to use it instead of letting it get to you.

Somehow nearly all of my runners let it get to them. Virtually no one ran well. Teams we had beaten 5 days earlier trounced us. It was ugly.

Then, on Saturday, one of my non-high school runners ran the Rock and Roll Denver Half Marathon. Her goal was to go under 2 hours. Her PCR was 2:15, but I was confident she was in shape to go well under 2:00:00. I predicted a 1:54 for her.

At mile 9 I knew 2 hours was in the bag unless she walked the rest of the way. Not only did she cross the line with a PR and PCR, she demolished her goal and my expectations by running 1:47:53.

Running is hard. But at least when I am running I am in control. When I am coaching I get to experience great joys and great frustrations.

The hardest part is that neither of those are entirely up to me.