One of the very first lessons a good coach arms an athlete with is the wisdom to have realistic expectations. And that the path to achieving those expectations is by sticking to a program which leads from short term goals to an ultimate one. Everything, therefore, is factually as well as metaphorically taken step-by-step.

Still, the feelings of loss and worry grow heavier with each passing day spent locked at home away from the terrible coronavirus. On April 21st, the 2020 BMW Berlin Marathon announced its cancellation after German officials banned all events of 5000 or more through October 24th.

Though the number of Coronavirus cases and deaths has begun to flatten in the hardest-hit areas of the USA, testing remains very low as a percentage of the overall population. And absent such widespread testing, it will be impossible to accurately track the virus’s spread or penetration.

As such, it seems just a matter of time before the postponed Boston and London Marathons – September 14th and London October 4th – along with regularly scheduled BofA Chicago (Oct. 11th) and TCS New York City Marathons (November 1st) will follow Berlin as Abbott World Marathon Major casualties. Especially after the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield warned that the second wave of Coronavirus likely to come this Fall “will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through…We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the Coronavirus epidemic at the same time.”

But then the Great One, the self-anointed Cheerleader, says, “there’s a good chance it won’t come back at all.  It’s going to be gone-gone”, choosing to see light at the end of a tunnel that his band of medical and scientific experts says would require the Hubble telescope to find.  So, who, which coach, should the public fall in line with?

George Washington was famously known as the Father of the Nation.  And over the nearly two and a half centuries that this republic has stood, father figure has been the metaphor most often attached to the presidency. A financial advisor, on the other hand, while still a very important family counselor, doesn’t have the same overall responsibility as Dad. So when the fiscal well being of the country comes into conflict with the physical well being of its citizens, which concern takes priority?  Isn’t the old saw, “if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything?”  But what if that concern primarily pertains to the old and the infirm?

Remember Hillary’s “Basket of Deplorables” in the 2016 presidential campaign?  Well, are Expendables going to be the new Deplorables of 2020?

This current test we are going through is similar to an athlete who comes down with an injury.  Our first instinct is to try to train through it, which is only human nature. But so often we find that, depending on the location and severity of the injury, it is best to shut down primary training to avoid the injured area while cross-training to maintain general conditioning.  Then, once you have recovered completely, ramp up to a full training load.  In the long run, your outcome is generally better served.

Not to say that these are easy calls, or that there aren’t any sacrifices made along the way, some very difficult, indeed. It takes fortitude, mental toughness, and discipline to train through injuries. That’s why there’s always panic when a niggle of any kind crops up.

Fitness is like a house of cards, simultaneously very strong but very fragile, as well. Each layer must be constructed with meticulous care or you risk bringing the whole thing crashing down in a heap.

“There are no beautiful surfaces without a terrible depth,“ said Friedrich Nietzsche.

Which is where we find ourselves right now, hurting, shut down while anxious to begin training hard again. Only time will tell if we will have made the right choices today.  And that will depend on which coach we choose to listen to and lead us into the coming season.


P.S.  Just minutes after this was posted, the BofA Chicago 13.1 announced the cancellation of their 13.1 Mile race scheduled for 7 June 2020.

3 thoughts on “DOWN GOES BERLIN

  1. Great piece, Toni. I know which coach I’m choosing, and it most definitely won’t be the current one. And make no mistake; I didn’t choose him last time around.

  2. A very thoughtful and well written piece as usual, Toni. Being an optimistic realist and not a skeptical pessimist, I realized very early on that this was going to be for the long haul and affect our behaviors for at least 18-24 months. With the current calls from certain quarters to “re-open the country”, I am reminded of the timely appropriateness of the Winston Churchill quote from WWII,
    “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But, is is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
    We are all going to be required to have patience and focus on what we can do to assist each other in the ‘here and now’ …… We will meet again. We will assemble freely again. We will race freely again. But, patience and care in the present is my personal watchword.

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