It’s been over a week since I’ve written a blog post. I’ve been busy! Last week was filled with coaching and organizing a cross country camp for 52 of my 7-12 athletes. It’s a full week which includes not just running, but PiYo (pilates / yoga) for runners, guest speakers from D1 college athletes, H20 Hunger Games (running in disguise. insert evil laugh), cross training bike rides, outdoor movies and camping, trail running, swimming (cryotherapy), and clinic discussions (this year on GRIT). However, this morning is the first official day of our fall cross country season. It’s the First Day to Greatness!!
Have Faith in the Process
I’m reminded every time this time of year, how important it is to teach young runners to have patience with themselves. So many are just learning to run and I mean this literally. We have to teach them to be able to jog continuously for 100 meters. One step in front of the other. Then we set the next goal of 200 meters, then to a quarter mile, then so on an so forth until eventually being able to race a full 2 miles (for middle schoolers) or 5k (for high schoolers).
This process can be somewhat difficult to realize for young runners. “Patience Grasshopper” is what I joke and tell some of them. It’s so easy to compare yourself to other runners who seem faster or more fit and let it be the demon in the attic that is telling you that you aren’t a good runner. This is hogwash! In the seven years that I’ve been coaching now, I can’t reassure you enough by telling you how many times I’ve seen a new incoming 7th grade runner just stick with it by focusing on putting one foot in front of the other. The short term goal at some point ends up turning into more of a long term goal and the kids come back out, year after year. Before you know it, we’re reminiscing at their graduation parties and looking back at pictures of them in jerseys that they swam in because they were so little at the time.
My current coaching tactics have me thinking that teaching kids how to draw themselves into the present mindset and to just focus on controlling what they can control. If they can master this then, not only might they achieve what we refer to as “the zone”, but more so the bi-product of success can be achieved.
How Do You Define Success?
This can be a tricky question. We’re teaching young runners to define their character and themselves thru the process with attitude and effort, and to take on the identity of being a “distance runner”. A “distance runner” that tells themselves, “I do hard things”! A runner who can look themselves in the mirror afterwards and be proud of the reflection of someone who has given their best.
In the same token, there is a definite real tangible goal that we strive towards. We want personal improvement and PR’s (personal records). We want them as a team to strive for top placement at each meet. We hope that our end goal is qualifying and getting to the State meet. We hope that the bi-product of all their combined hard work and effort and daily “controlling what you can control” mindsets, will get them to “the deck” (top placement at the State Meet).
Between these two personal short term and long term goals, and our team short term and long term goals, we will achieve greatness. The runners will find success in themselves and a process and effort put towards something bigger than just themselves. This is SUCCESS!! And today was the first step on our way and First Day to Greatness!!