Good Timber

A very dear friend of mine and amazing athlete, Kathleen Hughes, is one of the toughest women I know. She’s rehabbed some major injuries and still manages to kick my young butt all the time. One of the lessons I’ve learned – ok well I am learn(ing) – is how to negotiate when things just don’t end up going your way. This happens in all of our lives. We are dealt with a loss, a challenge, or we miss an opportunity and don’t know it until after it has passed.  I’m all for living in the present but there are times when as a human, we need a little push to get over whatever hump is in front of us.  Some of us are mental ninjas and can parkour (is that a verb?) right over any obstacle in our path.  Some of us shut down. Others of us rely heavily on friends and family to make it through rough patches. Others simply ride out the storm solo.

Several athletes this week have called amidst a life crisis, change, or just a plan crappy day. One thing I tell most everyone I coach when this happens is, you are human. Bad days happen. I then ask them a few other questions 1) Can you change what happened? If you can, then freakin’ stop complaining and change it. If you can’t, whine for a little bit then get over it. It’s not going to change.  2) Can you change your outlook on it? The answer to this is always yes and THIS is where great athletes and good athletes are weeded out. If you can’t change your attitude to see the positive – even if it seems like there is NONE out there find it. For example, an athlete called me today who was bummed because he couldn’t maintain his regular speed on the treadmill at 1% incline without his knees hurting. He had 1:45:00 to complete. Instead of whining about it, he decided, let me change my attitude and approach. He bumped the incline up higher and reduced his speed. No pain. And he got the whole workout in. Was it what he initially expected to have happen, no. Did he gain something from the workout – you betcha! He not only got the aerobic work in he also gained confidence that if he is in a race and something happens he can ADAPT. So bravo to you Charles. Yes I’m calling you out. You deserve it.

Back to the mental ninja Kathleen, “good timber doesn’t grow with ease. The stronger the wind the stronger the trees” …

Good Timber

by Douglas Malloch

The tree that never had to fight For sun and sky and air and light, But stood out in the open plain And always got its share of rain, Never became a forest king But lived and died a scrubby thing.

The man who never had to toil To gain and farm his patch of soil, Who never had to win his share Of sun and sky and light and air, Never became a manly man But lived and died as he began.

Good timber does not grow with ease: The stronger wind, the stronger trees; The further sky, the greater length; The more the storm, the more the strength. By sun and cold, by rain and snow, In trees and men good timbers grow.

Where thickest lies the forest growth, We find the patriarchs of both. And they hold counsel with the stars Whose broken branches show the scars Of many winds and much of strife. This is the common law of life.