[This is a series of inspirational job search and career transition posts. If you haven’t read Parts 1 and 2, you should probably go back and do it. This will make more sense if you do. We’ll wait.]
A curious thing started to happen as I entertained the idea of running a marathon on the elliptical: I got a coach. Well, I already had one for other things, but now he got involved with my running program.
I don’t think I’ve told you about Coach before, have I? In short, he’s that part of me that accepts what I say I want at face value, and never doubts that I truly want it or can achieve it. He’s that drive inside me that will not accept that something is impossible if I really, really want it, that believes in me no matter what, and won’t let me quit or call myself a failure.
It’s nice to have a guy like that around – not that I wouldn’t like to strangle him sometimes. He’s a disciplinarian, but always fair and never cruel. He’s also frequently exasperating, because he never knows when to call it quits, never recognizes when I’ve reached my absolute, all-out limit. He always thinks I’ve got more to give, and always requires it of me.
Maybe you’d like to meet him. You can. He’s imaginary, but that doesn’t mean he’s not real. I’m convinced you’ve got a coach like mine inside of you. Yours will look and act differently than mine, but he or she will do the same things for you that mine does for me. You might want to go looking inside yourself to see if you can find one and get acquainted.
Anyway, once I started to think about doing a marathon, Coach started showing up for my workouts. I’d finish a session on the machine and sit down to recover, and then I’d hear a voice in my head. “Think you could do another mile?” Or, “Think you could do three more miles at 8 minutes?” Or whatever.
Usually, the questions came at a point in my workout when the answer was an emphatic, “No!” And then he’d say, “Think you could do it anyway?” And so I would, and I’d hit whatever the workout goal was, usually right on the nose. It was uncanny.
With Coach’s help, my pace and stamina went leaping forward. My wife quit worrying about how long I was gone at my workouts. Along the way, I taught myself some quick recovery techniques – breathing, stretching – that shortened my break times.
I also started visualizing. You hear about athletes doing that. If nothing else, it’s a good way to pass the time when you’re on an elliptical for an hour – a whole lot better than watching the energy-sucking crap on all the TV’s. I’d see myself running a marathon, being the shocking old white dude who could keep up with those guys from Kenya and Ethiopia who can run impossibly far impossibly fast.
I became an international marathon phenom. It was fun, and I always won every race.