Friday, July 27, 2012

Tasty Day

Bryan Redemske's been lamenting recently that it's been a long, hot summer.

With the type of heat we've been having around here lately, it's made it difficult to remain focused on training. And with local road cycling being mostly wrapped up for the season, there's even less to get all worked up about.  Still, on August 18th, the race calendar is double booked with the Papillion Twilight and Gravel Worlds.

That's a solid three weeks of training in this heat before race day.

Well, take heart Bryan and company, I've got some ideas -- only one actually -- that you might pay a veteran coach good money for. And today only, on Wholesome Steel-cut Goodness, it's yours, gratis of WSCG.

True story: I once was paid to be a coach. I trained 30 athletes at my peak.  They weren't cyclists. Nor were my athletes adults. OK, so I coached eight and unders swimming. That's still gotta be worth something, right? If for nothing else, how do you think I'm able to demonstrate such patience with Shim?

Anyway, when I was 18, I lifeguarded and coached swimming at a private neighborhood swimming pool called Hills West in Denver. The neighborhood was still under construction when I was there.  They had built up a nice community center with a six lane, 25 yard swimming pool. The neighborhood association wanted a swimming team and splurged on professional starting blocks and top quality lane lines to dress it up.  They only needed one thing: swimmers.

That's where I entered the scene.  Over the next couple summers, I literally taught nearly all the eight and unders how to swim. First, in group lessons, then graduating them onto the swim team. The kids were troopers. They could barely complete a single lap when they joined the team.

The Hills West Waves were in the "D" bracket in the first season. The D bracket was reserved for the least competitive swimming teams. That year, we lost every meet. We were the Bad News Bears of summer league swimming.

One day, after witnessing one of the kids bawling her eyes out after coming home empty-handed from yet another soul-crushing loss, I came up with a great idea to motivate them. FOOD.

Seriously, this is good stuff. Hang with me.

At the next morning's practice, I gave the "how proud I was of them" speech followed by "it's not always about winning..." rhetoric.  Their wandering eyes indicated I was losing them. I switched gears and agreed with them that winning was fun and encouraged them that they weren't far from tasting victory.  All they needed to do was to practice more and to give it their all instead of quitting on themselves when it got difficult. In short, they just needed more volume to get stronger.

OK now pay attention, this is where the coaching tip worth good money is.

Then to motivate them, I promised I'd treat McDonald's breakfast to whomever completed the entire practice on the following Friday.

Jeffrey Gaston, one of the eight and unders suddenly blurted out, "Sweet dude, it's gonna be a tasty day!"

Apparently, Egg McMuffins have some pull with the 8 & UN summer-leaguers.   Who knew? Over the next serval practices, the kids took to the water with purpose.  There was fire in their belly for greasy American fast food, and by hook or crook, many were planning to be among that number going to McDonalds.

When the test day finally arrived, Jeffrey Gaston was there early, wearing a small backpack. He looked like he was ready to embark on a cross-country trip. He reiterated his mantra, "it's gonna be a tasty day," as I unlocked the gate.

Not everyone made it through the entire practice that Friday. For those who didn't, they ether didn't care that much about swimming or flapjacks at McDonalds.

But the ones who succeeded were obviously motivated.  In the end, we took 19 in a caravan from the pool.  Jeffrey Gaston was among those counted. He had himself a tasty day.


In summary: simple rewards are strong motivators.

Wouldn't you agree Rafal? I mean, don't Bacon Rides make for tasty days?

There you go Bryan. Go get you some.

Happy training everyone.

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