Tuesday, June 19, 2012

#409: Help That Helps

There are so many reasons to ask for help. Two of my favorites are because I don't know how to get where I want to be, and because I can't get there by myself. I was once afraid to ask for help. I didn't want to bother people. I guess I was afraid they would say "No." I also wanted to be the kind of special, self-reliant soul who knew how to take care of himself: a guy who gets things done on his own. My cancer battle beat that pride right out of me. Cancer humbles you. When you have to ask someone to come feed you four times a day, or mop your vomit up off the floor, you come to terms with needing help. When your goal is staying alive, your image becomes a lot less important.

Hill work with Jake and Clare
I still love my solitude. That is one of the things I love about endurance sports. Yeah, you can meet up with a group in the parking lot, and go out for breakfast together after a run or a race, but when you're pumping up the millionth hill of the morning, just trying to keep your feet moving, no one can do that work for you. You're on your own. Asking for help as a runner usually happens when you're not running. I've found help in some wonderful people.

A proud Mom doesn't care how sweaty the post-race hugs are.
If you follow FMR, you already know that Mum and Mrs P are my biggest fans and my strongest supporters. Mum is always proud when I have a new breakthrough, and she lets me know it. She is a woman who doesn't give up, and she teaches me how to be that way through her words and her example. Mrs P endures the early morning alarm clocks, the mountains of sweaty laundry, the expenses of race registrations and $11 socks because she believes in me. The last few yards of my marathon, my feet never touched the ground, because I could see her at the finish line, weeping.

John's Striders pose in the middle of a training run in front of
the Run the Bluegrass "Chicken House."
There's a community of runners in Lexington called John's Striders. We're associated with John's Run/Walk Shop. There are a couple of good running stores in the Bluegrass, but John's is the runners' Mecca in these parts. The Striders meet up several times a week, all over town, and we also have our own page on Facebook. We celebrate one another's achievements, support one another's struggles, and learn the art and science of running from people who have been on the road for decades. I can't imagine why any runner would not benefit from being a part of a group like the Striders.

Coaches Melissa, Carrie, and Chelsea, front and center
Then there's Coach Carrie. When I started at LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, I met some amazing trainers, my "Coaches," each with their special level of expertise. All of them knew their business, all of them could motivate me to walk through fire or run through walls, and all of them agreed on one thing: Carrie is something special. Coach has been training and teaching for a long time. She runs three or four group exercise classes every day. She doesn't have one of those willowy, long legged, slim hipped bodies that one associates with group exercise instructors. Her muscles are thick and strong as steel cables. Trying to keep up with her in a Pilates or TRX class can leave me gasping on the floor in a pond of my own sweat. Coach has something in common with my Dad. She doesn't give away her smiles lightly. When you get one from her, you really feel like you've earned it. And as of last week, Coach Carrie is my personal trainer.

I have several goals for this summer. The LexRunLadies, another running group in town, have declared 2012 to be the "Summer of Speed," and getting faster is a biggie for me. That's going to require two things: building a house of strength on top of the foundation of endurance I've spent the last year and a half laying down, and losing more weight to lighten the load those new stronger muscles have to move down the road. Coach is helping me do that. She has designed a program of high intensity interval training (HITT) that involves a circuit of strength and power exercises that are already showing me results. I set a new PR in a 5 mile race this weekend, and I'm already losing weight. Something tells me Coach is gonna rock my world.

Another of my goals is to earn a Personal Trainer certification from the American College of Sports Medicine, (ACSM.) Coach is helping me there, too. She doesn't just bark orders and chirp "Good Job," when you finish a set, she teaches. "This is what this exercise is designed to do." "Here is a way to put a program together for a client." "When you're training someone, this is what you need to be paying attention to." She isn't just a trainer, she's a mentor. Coach isn't just a trainer, she's a mentor.

There are a lot of places to ask for help, even for a lonely, long-distance athlete. The asking takes humility and the good judgement to know if you're tapping into a reliable source. Thanks to these men and women, these helpers, I may still have to run my own race, but I will never have to run it alone. That's what I mean by "Help that helps." That's the kind of helper I want to be.


1 comment:

  1. What a thoughtful and reflective yet forward-looking post! You've come so far. It's great to know what's next on your horizon. Keep up the good work. You continue to inspire.


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