The coach-client relationship is a unique one, so it is of top priority to choose the right person to help you reach your goal. After all, not only is there a significant financial investment, but you will also be entrusting them with your dream — whether it be athletic, entrepreneurial, or an overall vision for your life. In my case, I had a dream. A crazy dream: Qualify for the Boston Marathon. I was a good-plus runner, but to qualify for the Boston Marathon, I was going to have to cut over 30 min. off my marathon time, and I had spent the last four marathons stagnating at around the same finishing time and then suffering from chronic injury. Fortunately, my first coach was the right coach. While I thought I had just lucked out, after listening to a high performance podcast featuring best-selling author and leadership speaker David Horsager, it turns out there are some key points that made this partnership work so well. It begins with building the trust necessary to reach one’s goal, and that requires a solid framework based on competency, character, and connection.
I had an unexpected heart-to-heart with my best friend this past week. BF has her shit together and comes off as pretty outgoing and confident, but last Friday was one of those nights where she opened up to me about her doubts of achieving a particular goal of hers. She had come to me because she was under the impression that I never doubted myself. Ha! I mean, Hahaha! I promptly dissuaded her of that notion and told her that I was sorry to disappoint her, but that I definitely had insecurities in one area: My ability to get a sub-4:00 marathon time. Phew. It was out there. What a huge relief to share with someone my own uncertainties and fears.
Now, we’re both achievers. She confided in me because she knows my track record of setting goals and obtaining them, and she thought that I might be able to give her the special missing key that would help her. For my part, I was surprised to hear her uncertainty because to look at her, you’d think she is a total success story. Like a really inspirational fantastic story. But we both want more, and we both find ourselves with some sort of mental block that has prevented us from getting over the hump with our respective goals. For her, it’s been a lack of belief that she deserves that much success, and for me it’s been the absence of a full commitment to my goal and holding back — just a little bit. My head tells me I’m greedy for wanting more and that I should be happy with what I have – a healthy body that can still run marathons when a lot of my peers can’t even run a mile. I also get scared because what if I lose my perspective and become so obsessed with my goal that my life/marriage suffers? I know about obsessions, and I’ve witnessed myself take some questionable and regrettable actions in pursuit of whatever Thing I’m obsessed with. And, of course, there’s the voice. The voice that wonders what if I give it my all and fail?
I’ve known that I give about 80% effort in training. I do all my runs. But I’m kind of haphazard about my cross-training and strengthening, which is not a big deal if you’re youngish and healthy, but as someone who’s 47 and dealt with some injuries the past few years, this is a little Russian Roulette-y at worst and not allowing my body to live up to its full potential at best. I’ve also been 80% on my diet. Now that’s good enough to look pretty good for my age, but it’s not good enough to get to my optimal racing weight, which, no getting around it, will help get me to that elusive number.
My friend shared with me her issues, and we both committed to each other to go for it. To just fucking go for it. Until we get a sign, like for me a catastrophic injury or a complete change of heart that I’m no longer interested in running a sub-4:00 marathon, we’ll just keep putting in an increased effort towards achieving our goals. We’ll check in with each other, and if we look like we’re going crazy, we’ll reel each other in. We’ll also encourage each other. Ultimately, the results are not really in our hands, but the effort is.
So what does an extra 20% look like? Well, it looks like a whole lot of No.
- No to social events that I kind of don’t want to go to anyway. Now this is where I envy people with kids. They have a ready-made excuse for not going to random dinners or [insert arbitrary forced human interaction]. It’s seemed to me that I would be a rotten friend if I didn’t participate in a social gathering if I didn’t have a good enough excuse. Up until this week, I’ve never felt like “Sorry, but I have to go to bed by 8:45 to get up by 4:45 so I can get some cross-training in with my seven-mile run” was a good enough excuse. Well, this week, I admitted that I was lame to my friends and passed on a weeknight birthday dinner. (BTW, it’s not like I’m a hermit. I still see people, but just at times that don’t interfere with training or other obligations that are set in stone.)
- No to some of my extra hobbies. Ugh. This hurts. I fancy myself to be well-rounded. A Renaissance woman, even. I have a wide range of interests, and I want to Do.Them.All. Well, earlier this year I stopped hosting my book club (I’ve joined another person’s instead – let them deal with the headache of hosting), and I’ve now put other pursuits on a slower timetable. Like I changed my Duolingo Daily French goal from Insane to Casual. And I’m probably not going to read all the books on my bed frame any time soon.
- No to This. A foot away on my desk counter. Just kill me now. I’ve told myself I get to eat one dessert a week on my long run day. It’s been three days without dessert, and I am dying. DY-ing.
- No to being too cool for positive affirmations. I’m not sure that I have hard core negative thoughts, but I do have doubts, and I could probably stand to think more positively. I’m not really an affirmation person or someone who speaks that language…I’m a bit more blunt and swear-y, and have a tendency to use fear of failure as a motivational tool. But I know affirmations and positivity work for a good number of people, so…dear lord, please don’t tell anyone I’m doing this.
Taking 30-plus minutes off my marathon time is an ambitious goal. I’m not a naturally fast runner, so it’ll take effort, commitment, and sacrifice. Nooooo to a few things that I enjoy, but not forever. And really it’s more like Yeah. Yeah…I’m gonna go for it.