Yesterday, I had the chance to go watch one of my athletes run in the Javelina Jundred Trail Race outside of Phoenix. She was doing 100k, which is a rather long way to run.  Typically I coach triathletes, bike racers and runners.  I’ve never coached ultra runners before that I can remember.

As a coach, I can watch athletes and pick out those that are shelled, over their heads, those that are looking fit, fresh and good even at 3+ hours into the event.  I staked out two different positions on the course. This allowed me to observe the same athletes 3-4 times through out the day.  You could really see people whose training had derailed, who were in survival shuffle, who was and was not going to make it.  Those who had been smart early and those who had not. Best of all you could watch the changes as the day rolled on.  Lurking in the staging area was really interesting as well. Some people made me wonder what they were thinking.

Today, as we chatted about yesterday, I realized from my notes both with her about her race and on my observations from the race, that there was a ton of info learned about ultra running.  More importantly, much of this info has application towards other events as well. It’s experiences like this that allow me to stick another few bricks onto my wall of knowledge.

It’s of my opinion that far too many coaches fail to absorb the learning these opportunities offer. Fail to assimilate what they observed. Fail to use they knowledge they have, to critically apply it to situations that are non specific to it.  It’s lessons such as these that allow me to see how far I’ve come as a coach over the last decade, how much I’ve learned in that time.

6 Responses to “Learning”

  1. Mr. Bubble Says:

    So what could one of those shelled athletes done to recover their race or is it too late when you hit this point? Will you be able to look at me during an IM and tell me to go faster/slow down/eat/drink/take a nap/give up/punch a coach?

  2. I finished many hours later than expected. But, like Brian said, it was a great learning experience for both of us. I got my buckle!

    • Mr. Bubble Says:

      Great job on the buckle! Just curious what your longest training run was getting ready for this? How do you push through the negative thoughts on a run that long?


      • I did a double marathon at the end of July and from there did another 23 miler.

        As far as negative thoughts, for my training runs I really look forward to long ones. Brian thinks I’m nuts but I get giddy when I see 4 hours written on the schedule.

        For the race, I had set myself up for the Mondays because I traveled down by myself. I’ll never do that again. I swear if Brian hadn’t been there for me between laps the 4th one wouldn’t have happened. It was very hard for me to not have someone keep me company on the flight, I hate flying, and during pre-race prep. I really had no one to get excited with. I honestly didn’t realize how much that affected me. I now have a promise in place with a good friend that we’ll never let the other travel to a race by herself. Having someone there who knows the pain you are in, has been there and has experience helping a runner get through the rough patches it critical. It really sucked donkey balls to be dealing with the amount of pain I was in and knowing I was on my own to take care of my sorry ass until I could get home.

        I’ve had the negativity at other races but I’ve also never had to do such a big race, and traveled, on my own before so I was able to talk myself out of them by reminding myself how much I’d look forward to it. Somehow, after the first lap, it wasn’t enough for me this time.

        I’m still really glad I went.

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