How coachable are you?

Chinese baseball co...
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Decent run yesterday morning.  Struggled a bit coming back but it was probably because I went out too fast.  Still managed a pretty strong 7:30 pace for 6 miles but I can’t say it was “good”.  I should know better by now.

Today I am starting my first real “training” program since I stopped playing baseball in college.  I thought a lot about this while I was running and got myself all intimidated by it.  I have since calmed down a bit but let me explain…

What I mean by “training” is that I will have a coach (or two).  My last “coach” pretty much just yelled “Keep your weight back and be patient on that curveball, Martin!” from the third base line.  So it has been a long time since I have had someone critique my form or come up with a “plan” for me.  I have pretty much bumbled through training of any sort by myself.

However, having played just about every sport imaginable and having considerable experience in the recreation and fitness fields, I do consider myself somewhat knowledgable about workouts, fitness routines, training plans and, most importantly, my body and how far I can push it.  This DOES NOT, however, make me an expert.  Especially on triathlon.  So after some debate with myself over cost, time and effort, I decided that the expertise of individuals with multiple years experience in triathlon, including over a dozen Ironman’s between them, was worth the price.

So my trepidation in all this wasn’t with them, or the program.  It’s with me.  I was (still am) worried about my ability to be coachable.  And it is, I think, a very important question to ask yourself before you hire a coach for a sport.  Coaches, by their very nature… well… coach.  This involves looking for weaknesses and suggesting ways to improve them.  It also involves pushing athletes past their comfort level, deeper analysis of the whole athlete than you may be used to or comfortable with (like ripping apart your diet) and even a little psychological manipulation from time to time.

In order to really succeed with a coach, you have to let them coach.  And you have to be 100% willing to do what they say, when they say and how they say.  If you have hired a good one (reputation is key… do your research!), they won’t put you in danger, but they WILL make you uncomfortable, ask you to make some changes you might not otherwise make and may not have much sympathy for you when you slip up.

These things, I am comfortable with.  Playing baseball for 16 years at least taught me to thicken up my skin so I didn’t take it personally when I got barked at for screwing up.  And I always did my best to follow the coaches instructions.

So what am I worried about?

I guess I’m just hoping I still have that ability since I have been self coached for so long.  I don’t even know my “plan” yet and I was already trying to figure out how to wiggle more run time into it.  My biggest fear is that they will say that I can only run 2 times per week and I found myself saying “yeah, but I think it would be OK to run with the group on Saturday, too.”  So I was already trying to modify a plan that I don’t even know yet.  This worried me.  If I’m going to commit to this, I need to do what they say and follow the plan.  At least until I get my first triathlon completed.  Then when the training group is done I can modify it to fit my personal preferences.

The two ironies in all this are that I fear I may want to do MORE than the plan will let me (isn’t it usually the opposite?) and that for the first time in as long as I can remember, I am not worried about my diet.  It’s actually the best it’s ever been…  Weird.

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