I won my bracket. . . . Thanks to an iffy last-minute foul — and a non-call — I win. As champion, our punishment is that the loser now has to chug a six-pack of the beer of my choosing. Our group numbers several grown men who have achieved considerable success in a wide variety of fields, [b]ut when it came time to select a penalty for losing the bracket, we all resorted to the residue of our college days.
It is only July, and yet I am already feeling the nerves of November. My cross country team just finished its fourth week of training. These summer workouts are when the championships of autumn are won. I normally coast through summer, cursing the twelve weeks between the first day of training and our first September meet. But this season is different.
If you follow my Twitter feed (@martinjdugard), you’ll have seen a recurring photo of my office white board counting down the days to the State Meet. It's always 154 days from the first day of practice to that last Saturday in November. Right now the number is at four, which means State is getting close.
My teams are in trouble. Not deep trouble, but we need to iron out some issues. In cross country, the top five runners from each school constitute the score. Each runner gets a single point for their finish (one point for first, fifty-one points for fifty-first, etc). Low score wins. Perfect score is fifteen points: 1-2-3-4-5. From a time point of view, it's best to have as few seconds as possible between the first scorer and the fifth....
My wife is a professor at a local university. She recently shared a video with me about cognitive thinking that struck a nerve. The speaker was an authority on behavioral research — I can't remember his name off the top of my head, but he had me spellbound for the length of the video. In essence, his viewpoint is that we control the outcome of a situation by determining how we choose to view it.
My team is the smallest I’ve ever coached . . . [t]he kids that have chosen to run are special to me. I plan to push them very hard and get the most out of their potential. We’d all like to qualify for Nike Cross Nationals, but that’s twenty-two weeks away. Better to savor each daily workout and take things as they come.
Way back when I started coaching in 2005, I thought it was something of a lark. I’d long wanted to coach distance running and the job fell into my lap. After years of writing training articles for running magazines and more than a decade traveling the globe writing about endurance sports, I thought myself uniquely suited to the rigors of coaching high school cross country and track....