Saturday, June 8, 2013

Put me in, coach

One morning last month, I woke up to a text message from my brother-in-law that made me smile from ear to ear:

Never really one to "proselytize" (this blog notwithstanding), it's just never been my style to lean heavily on people to change their unhealthy habits, or to cultivate healthy ones. As a young kid, I tried to get my mother to quit smoking. I tried hard. I hurled facts at her, staged strikes of various kinds, and laid all kinds of guilt on her, and with each failed attempt, my heart broke more deeply. As a teenager, I learned to let this go, and how to separate her issues from my issues - having learned these hard lessons in other more significant areas of my life - and eventually I backed off. Sure enough, my mom eventually came to the decision to stop smoking on her own. I never really talked to her about it, although she always knew she had my full support. I think it took a few tries and several years, but she was successful, and (as far as I know) has been smoke-free for years now. That important decision, and the hard work and struggle that I now understand must have come with it, was never going to happen just because I loved her, was worried about her, and wanted her to be healthy. Those big changes come from within. Once we decide that it's time to make that change, we can enlist those closest to us for reinforcements, hire coaches, eliminate the distractions and triggers that might tempt us toward failure, and surround ourselves with the right supports - but none of this is will be successful if that big corner hasn't already been turned on the inside.

I've known my husband's older brother for sixteen years now, and love the guy. For most of those years he has teased me relentlessly - as all big brothers should - for a number of things, but mostly for my healthy lifestyle. And his decision to take up running a year or so ago had nothing to do with me - directly, anyway. He has made a lot of positive changes in his life of late, and running is one small piece of that transformation. From the time he headed out for that first mile, he's known that he has my enthusiastic support, but that I've never had any expectations. I've watched with great happiness as he's evolved into a bona fide runner, coming to love all of its many physical and emotional benefits. Watching anyone you care about make a positive transformation of any kind is a wonderful experience. And so much the better when they're becoming a runner along the way!

So he's off and running, and I am making my first foray into the world of coaching. Nothing official, of course. I've warned him that I really have no idea what I'm doing, and that he's basically going to get what he's paid for. We live across the country from one another, but of course in this day and age that means almost nothing at all. Through the beauty of Excel spreadsheets, email, text messaging, Facebook, and the Nike Running app, I can be all up in his business, all the time. I've put together a plan for him for the next couple of months, to build his mileage base up slowly and steadily over the summer. At the moment, he's a little frustrated with me because I am making him start so slowly - but he is a good grasshopper, and is sticking with me. In a couple of months, he'll begin training for his first half-marathon (in the fall), and then after the holidays, we'll jump head-on into training for a spring marathon. I'm eventually going to figure out how to get a guest-blogger column going here for him, so that you all can follow along. I know that I'm going to learn just as much through this process as he is, and am excited to start the journey.


  1. That's so awesome. Congrats to him. A quest post from him would be just great...a good motivator for him.

    As for the helping people start healthy lives, I'm glad you let that go. The person has to change for themselves. I had to gradually quit smoking finally...and learn to eat brown rice. All slow, but I finally got to it.

  2. I think so, too! This is going to be big fun.

    Yes, I was lucky to learn that lesson at an early age. I LOVE to inform, motivate, help, and "coach," but to each their own profound inner transformation. Brown rice included!