Saturday, September 26, 2009


I've been real busy lately. Maybe someday I'll tell you about it.

Today was the last day of training for my club's Ten-Miler Training Program, which is the exclusive training partner for the Army Ten-Miler Race next week. I am a Site Director under Program Director Emily, who brought us the contract from Army in the first place. Registration for the Program was three and a half times what it was last summer when I directed it, thanks to us being the exclusive training partner for the Army Ten-Miler. This translated into well over ten thousand dollars in additional revenue for the club. Do ya think my club wants to keep Emily happy? (You probably have no idea how clubs actually run.)

I picked Emily to be Program Director because she was ready to step up from coaching, where she had excelled. She is also a Running Boot Camp Instructor and directs a 5 a.m. workout for that. She has a terrific background in web programing and she also has an art degree.

She excelled in the job and took the Program to a higher level, despite its greatly increased complexity. Emily devoted half a year to it and managed three Site Directors meeting on both weekend days, and she usually ran along at the sites on a roving basis. Along with assistants Katie and Rachel, Emily helped create for the Program a series of programs that benefited the entire club like the Jump Start Program, a Monday night run on the Mall, a Tuesday night run over bridges in the District, a weekly email dispensing training tips and an Alternate Track Workout that wouldn't be too intimidating for the newer runners as the club's regular workout has been wrongly reputed to be.

What a great job Emily did. She is the most qualified person in my club to run a high-visibility complex training program by far. I should know, having directed, or created and run a component of, the last eight run-along club training programs. Only two other persons in my club have ever directed a run-along program that I know of. I don't believe that anyone who has never run a small program or been a Site Director could do anywhere near as good a job as Emily did handling a complex program like this one. The results she achieved were of tremendous benefit to the club.

These programs sometimes get scorn as "chaperoned running" from club members who train hard to improve their times and place in race standings. It's true, we run with new runners at their pace and draw them along as they work on their base, and Emily is very good at it. (Left: Chaperoned running along the W&OD Trail in the Program. Does that look like a perfect morning to you?)

Yes, it hurts our conditioning and our times but we want to increase the pool of runners out there by reaching out to the mid and back-packers in a spirit of inclusion. When we hear scorn sent our way, we realize there is another side to running, running for one's own aggrandizement. To these runners, coaching is all about ego. They don't run with slower runners, rather, they tell them what to do and then wave goodbye. As club president, I have tried to foster a spirit of inclusion within the club. I cannot say that I have been successful.

I have been coaching (running along with) small groups for about four years now. As I said, today was the last day of training in the Program that Emily so masterfully put together. Army has so loved what Emily accomplished that they want her to do it again next year. I believe they would follow Emily anywhere.

After our pre-run discussion this morning, I said goodbye to the assembled runners and announced my retirement from coaching for my club, even though I love it so. I'll still do drop-in coaching for friends. (All of the coaches in the Program are my friends.) But it was time to move on, as other obligations beckon. They all clapped appreciatively for me. Aww...

(Right: Bad John Braden, a good coach of Emily's. Doesn't it look like Bad John is drawing out the best in the other person he is running with? Bad John could go faster and leave her behind if he was only concerned about his own training. But then Bad John wouldn't be coaching in one of the club's run-along programs, not if I had anything to say about it.) Next I'll tell you about the beautiful morning and the great eight-mile run that wound up my coaching career for the club. It's why we run.


Anne said...

What a timely post. My training program had a meeting this morning and we couldn't even get a quorum among team leaders. The Emilies of the running club world are rare finds, in part because most of us have other obligations that prevent such a high level of commitment over a long period of time. If she gets bored with D.C., please send her way West...we promise her great running weather yearround!

And congratulations on your high level of commitment and coaching for four years. That's HUGE.

Dori said...

You are to be commended for making a difference in the lives of so many runners. I wish I could have been in your running club. Good luck with whatever you have planned next.

Danielle in Iowa said...

As a not fast person who still takes my training seriously, I appreciate it when speedy folks like you don't look down their noses at us.

Those people suck!

Sunshine said...

Appreciated reading all the caring details about your training program. Congratulations and thanks.
At least when we were there, the caterpillar made it across the path.

Just_because_today said...

Great post, you will be missed by them. Now, looking forward to the next post you promised us