Today I receive this email from one of my coaching clients. I have been coaching him for just under 2 months. These are his words. They humble me and make me want to do the happy dance all at the same time!
"Feeling stiff from my first “real” hill workout two days ago, I let out an "old man groan" as I eased my 42 year old frame into my desk chair. I wanted to take one last look at week 7 of my training plan. This was going to be brutal! The plan called for intervals. The memory of last week’s near-puking effort was haunting.
"I set the treadmill (you can’t cheat on a treadmill) to 7 mph for a 10 minute warmup and tried to relax. My legs burned. Not good! All too soon, 10 minutes flashed on the display and I punched in 10.1 mph for my first 5 minute interval. Almost instantly I felt a cramp in my right hamstring. It worked itself out but I stressed over keeping this up. My legs were churning as fast as they could go and I was already feeling exhaustion setting in. I thought back to a recent relay race and pictured the high schoolers running effortlessly as they passed me. Their legs were fast but not faster than mine. I remember marvelling at how their feet barely kissed the ground, as if they were flying. But HOW? What was I missing?
"Then it hit me - upside the head like Al Capone with a baseball bat. It had been staring me in the face for two months since hiring Kim. It was front and center on her webpage and in the signature of every email. BOUNCE STRONG! If my legs couldn’t swing faster, I would have to go farther with each stride. I needed to engage those muscles I’d been punishing for the last two months. I needed to bounce stronger! I intentionally relaxed my cadence a bit and focused on pushing harder, engaging my calves, quads, glutes and any other muscles willing to join in. Almost instantly I felt a hint of relaxation. It didn’t get easy but at least it felt possible.
"I bounced, and it became my mantra for the rest of the workout. My legs burned, my eyes stung with sweat, my lungs choked in every last molecule of oxygen, but I focused on bouncing strong. Finally, as I mashed the number 7 for my cool down, that familiar but elusive feeling washed over me... the runner’s high! On tired legs I had achieved one more seemingly impossible goal and I felt absolutely amazing!
"Two months ago when I hired Kim I told her one of my goals for the year was to achieve a sub 20 minute 5k. Within my interval workout today was a 5k time of 19 minutes, 20 seconds and a 10k time of 39 minutes, 54 seconds. That’s TWO 20 minute 5k runs back to back in the same workout! Talk about crushing a goal!
"People often wonder, “at what point do you call yourself a runner”. I’ve been running for 4 years, but I’ll always remember today - on the treadmill no less - as the day I became a runner. I found that one crucial piece of the puzzle. Today I bounced strong and I couldn’t have done it without my amazing coach, Kim."
Sometimes a coach feeds you gruelling workouts. Sometime a coach asks you to do things that are hard, and sometimes a coach sends you inspirational mantras and Friday night videos while telling you to rest. Often a coach can simply be the loudest voice in your head - that doesn’t let you stop, that doesn’t take excuses, that gives you permission to exhibit the greatness that exists within yourself, the awesomeness that you are afraid to show.
A coach can be someone you hire, or it can simply be the best friend that you run with every weekend. It can be that elite runner you follow on social media or it can be that terminally ill relative that just keeps going despite the odds, who puts things into perspective.
This weekend as you run, let the voice of all your coaches lift you up, get your feet moving, and help you to believe that all things are possible if you work hard and believe in yourself.
Because they are.