Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Ten Mile Group

My club's Ten-Miler Training Program, which I directed the last two years, is going very well this year. In the spring, as club VP of Training, I assigned the directorship of it to Emily since thanks to her, we are the exclusive training partner for the Army Ten-Miler Race.

Emily has done a fantastic job. We had 174 people sign up for the Program, up more than three-fold from last year. Emily has handled it all, despite being in a "boot" for a degenerative Achilles condition lately. We run three venues on two weekend days, with three site directors under Emily. The Program is just finishing its twelfth week out of sixteen (counting the four-week precursor Jump Start program for persons new to running) and all locations seem to be humming along on all cylinders. I'm SD at the Gotta Run location in South Arlington (soon to be Pacer's, my man Andre, who ran the last independent running specialty store in the area, sold out--but I am looking forward to working with Pacer's, a terrific promoter of racing events in the area).

So far I have only had one gaffe, when I was properly called to task a few weeks back for saying in my customary weekly e-mail to the runners that everyone did great and then offering platitudes to the volunteer coaches, without whom there would be no Program. I particularly praised one coach who had dropped back and run with the "struggling" runners, thus ensuring their safe return. One of the "struggling" runners, very irate, wrote me and after complimenting the Program, offered strong criticism that I was implying there was no room in the Program for beginner runners.

Humbly I emailed this runner that I was sorry and apologized to the group the next week, saying that I often "struggled" when I ran but acknowledging that the word choice had been poor. Meanwhile, the SD at the Georgetown location had pretty much mirrored my e-mail in her message to her charges that week, saying that one coach had dropped back to run with the runners who were "challenged."

This turn of the phrase made all the difference. They love the SD at the Georgetown location (she is terrific), whereas they put up with me at the Gotta Run location.

Today we ran 9.1 miles through Georgetown Waterfront and on the Mall, and everyone looked great, even those runners who were challenged this week.


jeanne said...

you know the old good deed...sigh.

you can compliment me for struggling any old day!

Anne said...

It's amazing what a difference a word can make. Perhaps with some time and more e-newsletters, you can help remove that big chip on those 'challenged' runners' shoulders.

Danielle in Iowa said...

Eh, some people need to lighten up and not take things so personally! I'm slow! I know it!