Saturday, December 10, 2011

Benefitting from a 12-year coaching relationship

A few weeks ago, Quin was playing with his train set after dinner, my husband Jon was watching television and I was surfing the Internet for news (my morning news watching has been replaced by Sesame Street and Curious George). A headline caught my attention: “Runner seeks Mystery Woman.” I decided to read on, imagining that maybe someone was sure they had just run by their soulmate. As it turns out, it was a reporter from CNN who was using the iPod Nike App and every time he ran a personal best a woman’s voice would come through his ear buds and say, “Congratulations. This is (a name he did not recognize). You just ran a personal best.”

Of course I knew exactly who that mysterious voice belonged to, but this guy kept forgetting her name.

He finally decided to run longer than he had ever run before so he could get her name. As he stopped after his longest run ever, he whipped out a pen and paper ready to write the name down. He got the name and ran home to look it up on the Internet. Paula Radcliffe. He was shocked to learn that she not only had sweet voice, but is the world-record holder in the marathon at 2 hours and 15 minutes. Intrigued, he used his CNN contacts in London and talked to her husband/ coach and eventually Paula herself. He got to ask what her husband says to encourage her. She said he usually doesn’t say anything after workouts, because they know each other so well.

Usually just a look would convey his thoughts.

Occasionally, she said he gives her a hug.

As we count down to 2012, I realize my coach Bob Sevene and I are going on a 12- year coaching relationship which is a pretty long in athlete years.

He probably doesn’t realize that I know all his mannerisms and can tell pretty quickly if he is satisfied with my workout.

Often it’s the way he stands, or the way he calls out splits when I am running on the track. He gets quiet when things are not going according to plan. One
time, his best-known athlete, Joan Benoit-Samuelson was running a marathon and ran by Sev, but did not hear him say anything. She assumed she was running too slow since she did not hear him and dropped the pace. As it turns out, him not saying anything worked out to her advantage because she went on to a 2:26:17 a breakthrough race in the beginning of her career.

I have to say since I do all my runs and workouts alone, a little encouragement goes a long way. I even appreciate the random golfer or walker that will say, “wow, nice pace.” It’s hard not to feel a little more skip in your stride when someone thinks you are running well. The Olympic Trials are getting pretty close (Jan. 14) and my workouts have been a little up and down due to illness. I am looking forward to my next few longer workouts and I’m hoping they will go well enough to warrant a hug.

Though Coach Sev has been with me through all the training, he stepped out of his coaching role to help watch Quin as Jon and I bravedToysRUs. Wow, now I know why I prefer online shopping. But, it’s hard not to get excited about Christmas with a 21⁄ 2 year old in the house.

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