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.