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.
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.
“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!