This episode dives into the world of the inspirational pep talk. We takes a few tangents along the way, but really try to view the pep talk from the perspective of both the coach and the athlete. We also cover why the speech that gets you pumped up and ready to run through a wall can be a good and bad thing depending on how and when it is applied.
Coaches want to feel like they are helping the athlete as much as possible. It is true that they generally plan the schedule and workouts. They help with mental tactics. They try to manage the emotions of an athlete through rough patches. Eventually the coach may start to see their role as elevated.
We realize that the coach is important. Teaching is important. But in the end, it comes down to the athlete. In all areas, the athlete is in charge. When the schedule says 5 miles, the athlete needs to do the work. When the workout gets hard, the athlete needs to find the mental capacity to push. The athlete controls their recovery, sleep and eating habits. Ideally, the athlete and coach form a partnership or mentorship, rather than a dictatorship. This may not always be the case, but it is here at Real Life Runners.
So we come back to the idea of the pep talk. This could take the form of an actual pep talk before a big race if you have a coach, or it could be self driven through an inspiring video or song. The important question to ask is when to use it. In the movies, the big talk happen before the big game, but not before every game, and certainly not before every practice.
Runners can only dig extra deep occasionally. My best runners have generally been the ones who are consistently putting up solid, but not awe-inspiring, workouts on a regular basis. Athletes do not want to end up putting out their best work in practice and having nothing left for the big stage. While I do like to see racing in practice on some workouts, that is not usually the goal.
Even hard workouts are often designed based on the athlete’s current ability with goal-paced work sprinkled in to see their potential. Once runners have figured out how to go to that place of pain, and how to deal with it, they need less exposure. Asking an athlete to scrape the bottom of the physical and mental well every couple of days for a workout is a surefire way to create burnout. For the weekend warrior who enjoys racing nearly every weekend, this means realizing that not every race can be better than the previous. Even when racing often, there should still be some races that are highlighted as performance peaks while other races are focused on the enjoyment of the racing community.
Finally, when it comes to the inspiring message itself, there are so many angles to choose. A coach must truly connect with an athlete to give the best talk. An runner needs to understand themself to know what will bring out their best performance. Is the message success for others, success for self, understanding that there is always another gear, committing early to something new and scary? In the podcast, we cover a lesson I am holding onto for the end of the cross country season and Angie shares the talk she gave to our team before our big meet last weekend. Check them out and find your inspiration.
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