THE BALANCE (OR IMBALANCE) OF BEING A COACH/ATHLETE
My days usually go something like this: Wake up, feed the cat, hug my husband and drink LOTS of coffee before packing and repacking for the day ahead of me. I usually train (myself) in the mornings, then change out of my sweaty sporty bra in a parking lot (when I hope no one is looking), race to my office for office work, then coach adult athletes at noon, change out of another sweaty sports bra at a red light (when I hope no one is looking) then conduct business via my Blackberry at a coffee shop before coaching junior athletes; follow that up with a second training session for myself, then change out of another sweaty sports bra before returning home to find something to eat, kiss my husband, go to bed, and wake up and do it all over again the next day.
No matter what day of the week it is, it seems like I am always either training myself or training someone else. I ski for a living, I ski for a passion: I spend the majority of my time trying to figure out how to make myself and those I coach a better athletes and faster skiers. Through these travails I act as a physical therapist, a sports psychologist, a nutritionist, a counselor, a teacher, a travel agent, and a motivator. As a coach, I’m there to see goals and dreams met; I’m also there to run with someone on a day when the tears fall freely.
The very definition of training is a process of exertion (to fatigue) followed by periods of rest and recovery. If everything goes as planned, the athlete “adapts” as a result of the training and comes back stronger only to start the cycle again… and again… and again. Without adequate rest it is difficult to absorb the training. Due to my “always-on-the-go” coach/athlete lifestyle it is very difficult for me to rest. There are many days where it would be nice to go home after training, eat a nice hot bowl of soup, take a shower, and hop in bed for a nap. However, that simply is not my reality.
While I work through naps and drink protein shakes while driving to coach the next workout, life isn’t all that bad. There are certainly many benefits of being a coach. For example, during last year’s Tour of Anchorage 50 kilometer ski race some of my junior athletes made “GO Holly” signs and placed them intermittently along the race trail while some of my master athletes helped organize my “feeds” (sports drink and cliff shots) every ten kilometers.
Another benefit of being a coach is the fact that it’s my J-O-B to get out the door. There is no procrastination in my life when it’s time to go! Being late to a practice is the equivalent of a salesperson being late for a meeting with a client. It can’t happen!
Because my workday involves being outside, people tend to romanticize my job. I often get comments like, “You get to ski for a living – you are SO lucky!” However, they are usually thinking of extra blue days and warm temperatures. If you’ve ever been to Alaska, you know that we’re no Colorado. On the good days, it’s REALLY good and on the bad days (which there are a lot!) it’s REALLY bad. It’s not unusual for it to be snowing sideways and 5 below zero in January! As a coach I am at practice every day including those where many people decide to stay home because it’s not nice outside!
At certain times in my life I’ve experienced pangs of imbalance – especially when I analyze the past 7 days only to realize that I’ve coached 12 sessions for my athletes and trained 8-10 additional sessions myself. My sports bra is ALWAYS sweaty. In the last year I’ve made a concerted effort to attend plays, take a stained glass class from a friend, and read books that have nothing to do with athletics whatsoever. For some reason, my best friends tend to be those that aren’t my competitors or my teammates, but those that have an appreciation for skiing but don’t ski for a lifestyle or living. I appreciate them for understanding what I do and I appreciate them for enriching my life in other ways.
At the end of the day, week, month or year I have no regrets about the job I do or the life I lead. I’m just stuck with big loads of laundry and a very tired body!