A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Random Thoughts: Warm Day - Badwater Shutdown - Commitment

It's the first full day of winter, it's 70 degrees outside, and I ran the trails in shorts and a running shirt.

Maybe it's time to grab my wetsuit and go for an open water swim too!

Let's do this. ;-)


Anyway, I mentioned that free, informal Fat Ass events were going to be the future of recreational sports. I opined about this in this blog several times in the past.  Bascially I stated that the rising cost of permits and insurance would start to make formally organized races prohibitive and expensive.

Well, there's now another reason, one that I didn't predict. Government intrusion.

From the Inyo Register:

Death Valley suspends sporting events in park

Inyo residents are expressing fear and outrage in the wake of Death Valley National Park’s “moratorium” on permits for sporting events within the park.
The National Park Service said it is implementing the suspension to allow staff to evaluate the events and safety concerns, due to extreme conditions in the nation’s largest national park.
The fear among Southern Inyo residents is that the park’s move may be the death of events like that Badwater Ultra Marathon, which, according to the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce, are responsible for contributing $1.2 million to local communities each year.
The Lone Pine Chamber is kicking off a letter-writing campaign urging DVNP to allow the events to continue while the safety evaluation is being conducted.

Not mentioned here is that the Badwater Ultramarathon has never had a death in its races, and that those who undertake this challenging event are very experienced, fit individuals who have prepared for the elements in this race.

Yes, there is a danger from heat, but athletes who tackle this race are much more fit than regular people who don't normally exercise and are better equipped to tackle the elements.

They did this briefly with the perversely named "government shutdown", in which the government actually had to pay its park rangers MORE to keep the park closed to the public. Does that actually make sense to you? No? You're not alone then.

If the government was truly shut down, then how come MORE people were payrolled to keep the public out?

But hey, I always say that the more government tries to control its people, the more they actually lose control of its people. The Badwater Ultra race was actually created from humble beginnings, when people used to solo their attempts on the course, mailed in their proof, and got an award to show for it. It looks like it will have to revert back to its Fat Ass format again. Forget the permits and let the government be damned, right?

A lot of the old-fashioned purist ultrarunners are pointing to its Fat Ass beginnings anyway; so be it.

Still, laws tend to make a precedent for things to come, and there are a lot of formalized ultras that run through national parks. Will they be denied permits too? I don't know, but organized events might actually be an endangered species at this point.

-------

I'm not a guy who takes excuses really well for someone's shortcomings. I have allowed a little bit of slack with excuses as a coach, but I think it's to everyone's detriment, really.

I don't like excuses. If I make up my mind to try for a certain goal, I make sure that I'm committed to it. If I know that I cannot commit to certain goals every year, I make sure not to waste the time and money for it.

The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning taught me about this commitment. Personally, I've suffered a couple of major setbacks the past couple of years. But when I committed to the Slam, I was not going to let anything detrimental get in my way. Ever.

The demands for my athletes should really be the same as the demands set for myself. That means setting a razor-sharp focus on your training, giving it 100% or more in effort, and having few excuses, if any, for not training for races.

Although I do understand that people have other aspects of their lives to worry about, but the choice to be fit should be a priority in their lives and should be set equal to work and family for the most part. I think it's very critical to have that fitness so that they have the ability and the confidence to tackle those other parts of their lives.

Anything less than 100% is not a good reflection on them, and not a good reflection on me.

My coaching is never really about money anyway. The money issue is a minor part of my life now; I don't need to take on "not so committed" athletes just for the money. As a matter of fact, I did stop coaching two people in the past two years because they weren't focused on the regimen I gave them.

And I limit the total number to about 5 people. That is it. People who are interested in getting coached by me have to show me that they are committed to it. Otherwise I do drop them after a while.

In principle, if you're going for a certain goal next season, commit to it first before you start putting in the time and money. Mediocrity might be the way a lot of people define their lives, but it shouldn't be around yours, and I definitely don't want to see it around me.

-----

If I don't blog again until Christmas, I do want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. And don't eat too much! The 2014 season is around the corner and you got work to do after the holidays.



1 comment: