I’m a distance runner, which means I am really good at thinking that I can do everything myself, as our sport is sometimes portrayed as the ultimate loner sport. But the reality is that, regardless of level, we need help, sometimes a lot of help, to get to the places we aspire to get to.
I’d been very fortunate to have some excellent mentors growing up and have always valued that type of system. I’m not sure if I lucked out with some great coaches, teachers, and mentors to guide me or what, but in 2014, I think I finally took full appreciation of it.
You see I’ve also been fortunate enough to have some really great and smart friends who I could kick around “theories of life” on long runs or critique each others latest foolish decisions. I’ve had great coaching mentors like Tom Tellez, Scott Raczko and my HS coach Gerald Stewart. Along with great running buddies like Andy Stover, Marcel Hewamudalige, and Moises Joseph who I could spend discussing the secrets of life on those long runs. But what I’ve really been bad at is getting outside of my normal comfort zone of friends and acquaintances. You see, I’m a self described introvert, who becomes an extrovert when I’m talking about something I’m passionate about. This contradiction means unless I’m geeking out talking science, coaching, psychology or some other random interest it’s against my nature to seek out people and strike up a conversation.
What I learned from another person I consider a mentor, Vern Gambetta, is to always learn from others. Every time Vern is in Houston he gives me a call up to see if we can meet for coffee and have a conversation. And it’s not because I’m special, it’s because the man soaks up knowledge. I always admired Vern for this because he didn’t have an ego and just sought out people doing interesting things regardless of what level or age they were at. The first time he reached out to me I was a 20-something nobody, and some of the best teachers of movement he’s brought in to his conferences were simply PE teachers, not some pro sport guru.
In mid-2014, Shannon Leinhert reached out to me and asked to meet up when I simply posted I was in Eugene on twitter to chat about some of the things we were both doing. I didn’t know much about Shannon except for her running accolades, but what impressed me was that here was someone who was just super curious about learning and picking people’s brains. And after our quick meeting, it really made me ask the question of why wasn’t I taking advantage of all the smart people out there that I could learn from? Conversations can give us so much information.
So, what’s the point? Well since that, I decided I’d copy Shannon and reach out to people doing interesting things whenever I travelled. Whether it was meeting with Phoebe Wright in Seattle, Jon Marcus in Phoenix, Danny Mackey in New Mexico, or a random assortment of really smart people on my lovely track trips.
If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that everyone has an interesting story. The problem is that we live that life daily, so we’re blind to the knowledge and experiences we have. It’s our norm. So you have a lot of really smart, intelligent people who have hidden gems of ideas or ways of thinking and they don’t even realize it.
The end of 2014, and hopefully 2015 is about exploring that. People are fascinating. Sometimes we forget that each one of us has a
compelling narrative hidden behind whatever external facade we put on. So it’s been my goal to explore that narrative.The Podcast
So in 2015, I’m excited to announce one step in that process, a podcast with my good friend Jon Marcus. Jon is one of those guys who I go to when I want to be challenged in the way I’m thinking and coaching. We have exchanged thoughts, ideas, and book suggestions for the last few years after spending some time in Portland at the same time. What I like about Jon is that, similar to myself, he’s the ultimate generalist. He takes a philosophical viewpoint on topics and spends most of his time connecting ideas from outside the running world to what it is we actually are doing. And if there is one thing I’ve come to understand, it’s that the ability to connect disparate topics is what learning is all about.We decided to essentially try to take some of the conversations that we have in private and make them public. The goal is to get coaches talking, sharing, and understanding. It’s not that we have any great secrets, but Jon and I both like to look at coaching from different perspectives, and both of us have had an “inside” view of the sport of track and field, so hopefully you’ll learn something from our conversations!
So without further ado, I give you our first conversation, and it is just that, no editing, no fancy equipment, just two coaches talking coaching. We started like that on purpose. Our first topic is called the “Clean Slate Phenomenon”.
You can check out our first episode on iTunes and subscribe to the podcast HERE
For now, you can listen to it here. We hope to provide new conversations every Monday. If anyone has any suggestions or questions, feel free to start the discussion here.
For those looking to subscribe, the rss feed is here