Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Double Standard

As a coach, I am put in the situation of giving advice. Athletes call or email with questions on a daily basis, tasking me with problem solving a multitude of predicaments. This, though, is my favorite part of coaching; helping athletes through these tough patches. Directing athletes through the nuances of daily training or why a race went wrong or how to properly pace for the perfect race is the crux of coaching. It’s like solving a puzzle, and I love puzzles.

“Should I workout today, I am feeling sick?” No, take the day off and get better so you can hit it hard tomorrow or the next day.

“I have an ache or pain, what should I do?” If it has lasted for more than a few days or is getting worse, see someone.

“I have had a few bad days in a row.” Time for a rest. I’ll modify your schedule for a few easy days.

“I completely blew up on that workout, why? “ It sounds like you started off too hard. Next time dial it back.

As an athlete, I completely fail when it comes to dealing with those very issues. If I am sick, I grouse about whether or not I should workout and then feel guilty if I miss. Ache or pain? Well, I seem to have a lot of those, so I tend to train through them with reckless abandon. If I have a few bad days of training, I get frustrated and tell myself I need to train harder. Fortunately, I rarely blow up in workouts; I either have a good day or a bad day, nothing in between.

I plead guilty. I have a terrible double standard. The sage advice I dole out on a regular basis, the advice that I expect my athletes to follow, the advice I know applies to me, I rarely take. Feeling distressed about this hypocrisy, I spoke with my physical therapist. He, too, lives by the double standard, often training through injuries deemed too serious for a patient to train with. He just brushed off my inquiry with a laugh and said, “Shh, don’t tell anyone.”

I realized the double standard is rampant in other aspects of my life as well. I was having a conversation with a fellow ellipticaller the other day and our discussion turned to serious matters of friendships and relationships. In the midst of our dialogue, in which I offered some advice (I felt qualified to intervene, as I have a counseling degree) he told me that I am very well adjusted. I nearly fell off of my elliptical, because “well adjusted” is not a trait that I am usually associated with (my family laughed hilariously when I relayed the story). Somehow my words bamboozled this unsuspecting person.

You hear that doctors make the worst patients. Psychiatrists are usually maladjusted themselves. The double standard is alive and well everywhere. I know for myself, I am going to work harder to live by the words I preach. Until it doesn’t suit me, of course.