My wife is a coach, and you people are driving her crazy. So pay attention, because your issues tend to fall back on me when she gets home and has to deal with my normal idiot-husband tendencies. And I’m starting to run out of wiggle room.

Coaches are throwbacks, professional nitpickers with hearts of gold and hair-trigger tongues.  That’s why they give them a whistle, so they can blow off some of that steam after you rile them up.

David Lloyd (Manchester Wheelers') and Eddie Soens (National Coach).
David Lloyd (Manchester Wheelers’) and Eddie Soens (National Coach).

Anyway, one such coach I remember well was Eddie Soens, a Runyan-esque character out of Liverpool, England who mentored two-time Boston Marathon champion Geoff Smith, a fellow Liverpudlian who stayed in the U. S. after his career at Providence College.

When I met Soens he was 70, and had decades of experience as a top cycling coach back home. Whenever Eddie would visit New England as Geoff prepped for one of his Boston victories (1984-`85), I recall standing alongside as the old coach just shook his head as he watched American runners cool down after a race or hard workout.

“I cannot believe how they walk around with their legs still bare,” he’d vent in that deep scouse accent.  “There’s no attention paid to detail!  No attention atall!”

The tough-love spirit of Eddie Soens lives on in Liverpool every March at the Eddie Soens Memorial ,  a cycling race that is now in its 55th year. But recalling the words of Eddie is like hearing Toya at the end of every workout and race with her Team Toya or USD charges.

“You might feel warm, but your muscles don’t. The next day when you say, ‘I don’t know why my hamstring or calf feels a little tight, or I feel a little niggle’, well, when you walk around for an hour without covering up after a race or hard workout, that’s the danger.

Where are your sweats?
Where are your sweats?

“The first order of business is to get out of your wet clothes and into some sweats. Do you ever notice how the Ethiopians and Kenyans are always fully clothed when they aren’t competing, even when it’s hot outside?  Same with all the sprinters, they aren’t showing off their legs. They keep them covered up.  That isn’t modesty, it’s being attentive to the small things that avoid injury and lead to top performance.”

OK, there it is, another prudish prompt from an old-timer. So when Toya and all the other coaches out there say to put on a layer of sweats and not just wear your shorts ‘cause you feel warm, I don’t care what the temperature is, cover up!

Those coaches have spouses and significant others who are making enough mistakes on our own without having to bear the burden of your inattentiveness. So in the name of said spouses, Get on it!

Thank you.


4 thoughts on “COVER UP!

  1. Geoff Smith was English, as you know, not American, although he did go to college (Providence College) in the US.

  2. Toni:

    Really good point… and very relevant. I tell young HS runners/racers that I speak to after X-C or track races today to put their sweats and training flats on right away all the time…. as very few of them do nowadays. Now I know where it comes from! Light sweats for spring/summer and heavier sweats for fall/winter. Guess I am just very old school….please give Toya my regards … and respect! She can coach me anytime….

    1. Ha! You are so old school, Craig. You must have gone to high school way back in the last century, like me!!!
      Man, it frustrates me to no end, be it high school, college, open, or master’s athlete that fail to throw on extra clothes after competing, between events, etc. I always keep extra clothes in the back of my truck and I encourage my athletes to hit the bargain/second hand stores for some extra long sleeve shirts or pullovers.

      I was at one of those reject stores where they sell blemished items (and most of the time I can never find the blemish!) and found this sweet dry-fit pullover that sells in regular stores for $60 or more for $17.95. It’s an XXL, so it is a bit large for me, but after a run on a cool autumn day, perfect to toss on.

      Spring and summer time, oh, those throwers!!!! They see me putting a t-shirt or long sleeve T on between throws and I tell them to toss on a shirt or warm-up top to keep their shoulders warm. And speaking of attention to detail, every thrower and pole vaulter MUST have a couple of Thera-Bands in their back pack. You need to use them before, during and after competition to keep those shoulders loose and flexible.

      (Shameless self-promotion: anyone looking for “old school” coaching, contact me – anytime, anywhere, as often as you like!)

  3. This article hits close to home. I am always after my high school athletes during spring track to cover up. March and early April in the Boston area is still winter. These youngsters seem totally oblivious to the cold while I am bundled up in 5 layers.

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