Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Value of a Coach

This past week I went home. I wanted to go home for a number of reasons. Reason number one was to visit my family. I consider each occasion I get to spend time with my grandmother a blessing. Even if she is sleeping for a large part of our time together it always feels good to be with her. I also get to spend time back in my hometown of Kingston with my parents which is always fun and brings back all kinds of great memories.

One of the other reasons I wanted to go home was to talk to my long time coach Randy.  Randy has coached me since 1999 when I decided to take on my first Ironman. I put a lot of value in his opinion and above all his friendship. Over the past few months I have been feeling pulled towards doing another Ironman next year. I wasn't sure why and I wasn't convinced it was the right thing to do. It was just what I have done for the past 13 years and I didn't feel as content as I thought I would this summer. I didn't tell Randy any of my reasoning I just wanted to hear what he thought of the idea. Because he had been there himself years ago he understood what I was going through and his experience made me come to some realizations. Number one is that  I had come to define myself as an Ironman athlete. That is not all I am. Number two is that I would always miss it and would always be chasing the "perfect" race if I kept at it. Perfection is a very scary thing to be chasing. Largely because it doesn't exist. Number three is that my body can only take so much punishment before it is going to start punishing me.

I went through a tough summer missing racing and missing being as fit as I have always been (although you could argue that I was healthier). I had a fun summer and did things that I don't normally get to do, but at the same time I didn't completely embrace it the way I should have because I wouldn't allow it. So what if I were to do another Ironman next year? I would end up going through another summer like this one instead of getting on with my life and embracing my freed up time to golf, go to the beach, hang out with friends, stay up late. All the things that I promised myself I would enjoy when I was in the midst of a big Ironman build last summer. This doesn't mean that I am done with Triathlon. I remember joking that I would never swim/bike/run all on the same day ever again. That unfortunately will never happen. I love the sport too much. I do need goals to chase and Triathlon will remain one of them. Ironman will not.

So, next year, I am going to take on Randy at the Olympic distance and I plan on kicking his A$$!  We will be racing with the goal of going to World's in 2014 where hopefully I will still be kicking his butt again.

So the thing I have learned and I hope my athletes can appreciate is that sometimes the job of a coach isn't to push you to the edge, but rather it is to pull you back from it.

1 comment:

Anna said...

Mike, you have taken us to the edge, supported us while we were there, helped us lean away from it and understand what's important, and go back to it when we were ready. You have a great coach… and don't ever doubt it… we have one to….