Reflections on Coaching

Last fall I saw a window of opportunity to get my Level One Certification and start coaching. This is so different than anything I've ever done. I needed that. I needed change and I needed a challenge. I'm so happy I decided to do it.

I started coaching at the end of November. When I started, I was worried that nobody would take me seriously. They'd think, "Hey, there's that woman who fixes Jeremy's grammar and yells real loud when she does cleans. I hear she's also good at opening champagne bottles. WTF is she doing leading my class?" And maybe that's what some people were thinking. But I kept signing up for classes because I knew I wouldn't get better unless I actually coached. So I faced those fears and just kept coaching.

And then some things started to click. I got some regular classes (I love my Mondays at 3:30). I started knowing the athletes that I didn't know. They started asking me questions. Newer people asked me questions. I knew the answers. Newer people saw me as a coach, and not just another athlete. I started feeling more like I want to feel. Challenged, yet comfortable. And it's fun. It is. 

I've been told that I'm not always the most confident in front of a group. I think this is true in the case when I'm with more experienced athletes. I love working with newer athletes. I love figuring out ways to scale so they know how to do the movements safely and they'll get a good workout. 

I just listened to an incredible ending to a baseball game. Justin Verlander needed to pitch the full game. He just had to. It was the bottom of the 9th. The Tigers were up 3-2 and his pitch count was in the 120s (that's a lot for all of you who don't know baseball). He walked a guy and then had runners on 1st and 2nd. Jim Leyland, the Tigers' manager, comes out to the mound. They chat. Verlander stays in the game. Not many managers or coaches would believe in a player like that. He kept him in the game. Verlander actually hit the next batter, which loaded the bases. He stays in. If there's a hit or a walk, the Royals win (the f*ing Royals, of all teams). On his 131st pitch, Verlander struck out the hitter. Tigers win! His manager believed in him.

I'm no Jim Leyland. I could never grow a mustache that awesome. Sometimes our athletes need to hear it from someone else that they can do it. Sometimes just hearing your name during a WOD is all you need to keep going, or a cue from a coach so you know they're paying attention. I totally believe in our athletes. They're f*ing amazing.

And things go wrong all the time. If you've taken a class with me, you probably know that I'd like to run over the timer with my car. Run it over! Sometimes Pandora picks the wrong song. Sometimes my athletes don't like Rihanna! Whatev!

I know I'm not the best athlete. I'm average. I really need to work on technique in my lifts. But you don't need to be the best athlete to be a good coach. You need to recognize form in others and give cues to help them improve. I know I'll get better at this the more I do it. I just need to keep doing it and keep paying attention.

I like coaching. I'm glad I needed the challenge. And I'm grateful for the athletes who believe in me, because I certainly believe in them.


Moderating (or not)

I eat cleaner than the vast majority of Americans. And I understand that eating clean can mean different things to different people. Many people would look at a Yumm bowl and think, “Rice, avocado, olives, tomatoes, edamame...that looks pretty healthy!” Sure...but not for me. Grains are probably not the best choice all around (although I don’t think that a little rice now and then can hurt). I don’t want to admit it or believe it, but I think there’s something in Yumm sauce (like crack) that makes me congested. Because that’s how I feel now when I eat something I’m not supposed to - congested. Thanks Whole 30. Now I’m acutely aware of how food makes me feel.

It seems like I’ll go through phases where I’ll eat pretty clean, then I’ll allow myself some treats, then I’ll just go off the deep end and I can’t button my jeans anymore. Then I’ll realize I need to clean it up, I’ll stay that way for a few weeks, then I’m back to the sweatpants. I remember reading something in a magazine a while back...a word I hear people say once in a while that I don’t really understand...something like...moderation?

Of course! Moderation! Duh! This could mean eating 90% paleo and allowing a cheat meal once a week. That sounds great! That sounds easy! That sounds...COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY UNDOABLE!!!   

I am not a moderator. I can’t eat two Thin Mints. Is there anyone in the world who could eat two Thin Mints? Once that box is open, they’re gone in a matter of minutes. And this isn't just about food! If I like something, I want a lot of it. Baseball just started. You think I can check scores and standings once a week or once a day? Forget it. My time is occupied from now until the end of October (since the Tigers will win it all this year). Moderation is not in my vocabulary.

CrossFit workouts are “fun.” They make you feel like your body is actually doing something. They push you to work harder. Beat the clock. Beat your last time. Get one more rep. Do it! Sometimes we’ll plan on a rest day, then see what the workout is that day and think, ‘I have to do this one! I’ll take a rest day eventually. Maybe the next day.’ And it never happens and we get burnt out and injured. OK, this doesn’t always happen, but sometimes it can. I think I’ve almost figured out a way to find ‘moderation’ in CrossFit.

Rest (sometimes)
Don’t go crazy RX superhard beastmode every day
Listen to your body
Let your coaches scale you
Stop comparing yourself to other people*

*A special word on this last one. During the CrossFit Open, of course we compare ourselves to others. We’re all doing the same workout with the same weights. I was disappointed in a lot of my workouts, but I need to factor in the rest of my life. My stress level this past year has been a lot higher than in the past. I don’t want to mention how many times I’ve moved in the past year, and how different my life is now than how it used to be. These are important factors that the leaderboards don’t measure.

I need to think of food this way, too. I think dairy makes me break out. Sugar turns me into a monster. Ordering a Yumm bowl a few times a week is just lazy. Do I want to be this way? No. So I need to be mindful of the choices I make and what behaviors and side effects they will cause. I need to be accountable for how I act and how I present myself to the world. Food is a big part of that. Food is just the first step. Time to reset, yet again.