Thursday, April 7, 2011

The First Few Weeks

I coach a girls travel soccer team. They are high school freshmen, and many of them now play for their school teams (yay!). Unfortunately, a few that tried out did not make it.

After their initial disappointment we collaborated and came up with a plan to get them more ready for next year’s opportunity. The plan includes running for fitness five times per week (among other soccer-specific activities).

Fifteen-year old people, typically, do not do that. In fact, when I first suggested the idea to Ash, Dana, and Jenny the concept was met without much excitement or any belief that it was a good idea. But, to their credit, they are mostly sticking with the plan, and they are finding out what I already knew.

1. The first few weeks are the toughest.

Whether you’re training for your first 10k or marathon or just trying to get more fit, the first first two weeks of your running program kind of, well, suck. You don’t feel the gains, but you feel the pain. The miles seem long and tedious—even when you only have one or two to do. You feel like you’ve accomplished something when you finish each run, but when you start the next one you still dread it. You have to trust that they payoff will be there, but you aren’t quite sure.

2. But it will pay off (I promise).

Unprompted, all three girls have come to me recently and said they are starting to feel a real difference now. Their stamina is increasing; their confidence is growing. Their bodies have adjusted to the new demands, and are beginning to thrive.

And, in our first game of the spring season, all three had excellent showings. One of their goals was to keep up with their teammates who are playing and practicing five days per week at school, and in some ways the three were even better than I had envisioned.

3. Once you get through this part, you want to keep going.

Yesterday was one of the first beautiful/warm evenings of the season. I texted the girls and said, “what a great night to get out for a run.” Since they have many competing priorities, the girls can easily be distracted from the plan so a little motivation/reminder from me doesn’t hurt. Within seconds of my text, here’s what I got back from Ash:

“Dana and I are already done.”

We have transitioned from the coach saying this is a good idea to the girls knowing that it is.

The first few weeks are over.

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