Coaching in a Pandemic

As an athlete the past 7 months has been extremely challenging. As a coach 2020 has almost been worse. As coaches our JOB is to help people set goals, improve, overcome obstacles, overcome disappointments and in the end achieve set goals. While there is a lot of intrinsic satisfaction from nailing workouts and accomplishing certain training goals, there is nothing quite like the feeling of doing it on a certain day at a certain place. A day that you have targeted for months when everyone turns up to cheer you on and gets to be a part of the outcome of that process.

Most great athletes have that intrinsic desire to succeed. They don’t do it for the glory or the medal. They don’t show up day after day just to get a t-shirt. They do it because deep down they want to get better. They want to be better at whatever their chosen sport or endavour is. That being said, it is always nice to have an end date. A time when you can put all the cards on the table and “see what you got”. Part of what we do as coaches is prepare athletes for these end dates. Whether it is knowing how to periodize the training for a big event or being able to put an athlete in the right head space to succeed, good coaches are like good athletes and thrive on working towards a very specific goal.

For most coaches and athletes 2020 has temporarily taken these end dates away. There has been very limited opportunities to race (especially in North America) and those races that have taken place have done so under quite different conditions where athletes have not been able to share in the success as they normally would with large groups of family and friends at finish lines, awards ceremonies etc. etc. While the extrinsic rewards are not what fuels most great athletes (or coaches), it is still great for family and friends to celebrate with you and see what all of the training has been for.

As a coach I miss seeing athletes have these magical moments with family and friends. I miss sharing in these moments. I miss congratulating athletes on great days and I miss sharing disappointment with athletes when things don’t go as planned. Most athletes have not had their chance to shine this year, most coaches have not had the chance to watch their athletes get the accolades that they have worked so hard for and so deserve. This has been disappointing to say the least, but it does not mean anyone should stop preparing. At some point racing will be back and we can all celebrate together.