Coaching is much like running (well any physical fitness training, but I just finished running so I’m going with running). It’s about finding the sweet spot- somewhere between “I am totally comfortable and could basically do this in my sleep” and “I’m in pain and may keel over momentarily.” Growing and stretching but not breaking.
I was never a runner. A twelve minute mile in high school was REALLY HARD for me. But in my 30s, I started running. Very slowly at first, but I worked hard and got myself to a place where I was running 35-40 miles a week. My pace was under 8 minutes per mile. I even did a race in my early 40s. I ran Broad Street in just over 80 minutes.
And then things fell apart. For the last few years I’ve been wrestling with an IT band injury that stopped me in my tracks. I gave up running but never really felt at peace with letting it go. I had come to love it on so many levels, despite dreading it in adolescence.
So I got some testing, some physical therapy, learned some things about my body (turns out I do some very weird things with my posture and form and that we humans are not really symmetrical- who knew?) and started running again.
I’m now running 20-25 miles a week.
But my injury is still there. I feel it. It’s that twinge.
How do I know when to honor the pain and stop and when to honor the pain and keep going? When am I feeling discomfort that is ripe for growth and challenge vs. pain that is signaling I must pivot?
A good coach works with you to find that sweet spot. A good coach partners with you in the paradox. She will challenge you, stretch you, call you forward, AND she will honor the circumstances of your life and not step over those experiences. It’s this dance of holding space for where you’ve been and also calling you out on your B.S. Coaching challenges you to choose new perspectives and ways of being and doing (not just as an intellectual exercise but for the purpose of growth) that serve you as you move towards your goals, but it should not be excruciating or traumatizing.
Today I ran two miles and felt pain. But I did not stop (it’s possible that I cursed-several times). I walked for a half mile and tried again. I ran 2 ½ additional miles with some discomfort but no pain, implementing my learned strategies, paying attention to my body and holding on to my commitment. I found my sweet spot.Tags: Coaching, Commitment, growth, leadership, learning, transformation