Going to the headmasters office

I was always a good pupil at school, you could probably call me a swot. I wasn’t the most academically gifted but I worked hard, kept my head down and did what the teachers told me. I did however get in trouble once and end up outside the headmasters office. My enthusiasm for sport got me in trouble. I was in my second year at Junior school ( year 3 primary I think they would call it now – aged about 7 ) and it had been pouring down all week. I vaguely remember being told by the headmaster in assembly that we were all to keep off the school pitch that week as it was so wet. Two days later I and two of my friends had forgotten this warning, caught up in the excitement of pretending to be Martin O’Neill or John Robertson from the fantastic Nottingham Forest team. Our ball kicking was rudely interrupted by the headmaster who stormed out of his office and dragged the three of us in to the corridor. I remember being terrified that I was going to get the ruler ( it was allowed back then ). I didn’t but I got a severe telling off for disobeying his instructions….it would be the last time I would put myself in that position…well until two weeks ago.
At the ripe old age of 43 I found myself staring at the screen of my ipad firstly in disbelief and slight anger at the email from my coach Gobi. It was Sunday night, as usual I’d sent him my weekly training data to which he usually replies offering encouragement, suggestions and then talks me through the sessions for the week ahead. But this was different.
I had been excited sending my email as I’d had a great run on the Friday and then took over a minute off my parkrun pb the following morning. I felt 10 feet tall. And all of this after turning my ankle in the previous week and limping around in pain for two days. I’d made a great recovery. photo of me finishing with a pb

His reply started off well as I read the first part of the first line; “I have to say that I am really happy that you got the PB” but then as my eyes continued to the right the wind was knocked out of my sails as he continued: “and properly pissed off that you have demonstrated all the stupidity of a bloody indisciplined triathlete.”It got worse
“You get the rough with the smooth and the fact is I write plans to improve you, if you can’t be bothered to follow them then why do I bother? Sorry mate my job is to manage you and you hurt you ankle. I supply a whole week of common sense and you behave like a TWAT.
So yeah great PB but what if you had turned the ankle , what if you had turned it and fallen on your shoulder ?? THINK”
I replied keeping it short “Sorry and thanks for this week’s plan”. I turned off the ipad and went to bed. It took me a while to sleep, running through what he had said.

The next morning I re-read the email and realised that he was 100% correct I had been bloody stupid to go out and smash myself after hurting my ankle. I was supposed to have a rest day on the Friday ( I ran hard ) and to run parkrun easy ( I smashed my pb), I was supposed to use my head, I’m old enough to know better.
His email was one showing how much he cared as a coach for me, his athlete. I’d initially missed that when I read it but it was glaringly obvious now.
He was right, I had been a twat, and I hadn’t thought at all. Like when football got me in trouble half a lifetime ago my love of triathlon had taken me back to that moment sat outside the headmasters office. I was in the wrong. I should have listened and followed the instructions. I had risked injury through stupidity. I won’t make that mistake again.
But the thing that really got to me was how he ended his email with just one word : ONWARDS
Despite being angry with me, he moved forward and was telling me to do the same. That’s what I need in a coach – someone who isn’t afraid to kick my arse if I step out of line but someone who knows that life and training goes on. This past week I followed the plan to the letter and didn’t get a bollocking, it’s a much nicer feeling on a Sunday night.
GOOD Coaches are a bit like wives, they are always right, even when they are wrong, which of course they never are. I have just have to practice saying “yes dear” to both of them and doing as I’m told.


3 responses to “Going to the headmasters office

  1. Awesome as always Andy, and my biggest source of inspiration

  2. On the other hand, you obviously felt your ankle could cope. I hear too many stories from athletes who’s coaches insist that they follow their program and it’s not working for them. No better example is the wannabe Ironman who was trying to follow his coach’s insistence that he persist with front crawl when it wasn’t working for him and destroying his confidence. He switched to do his own thing in the swim and duly finished his first Ironman. See the comment thread on this post: http://irontwit.creativeblogs.net/2011/11/14/something-i-hadnt-bargained-for/

    Congrats on the PB!

  3. portlandpaul

    You at least showed some maturity in your email response back – it would have been easy, and damaging, to tell Gobi to shove it. Well done, but you are a swot!

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