Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dogmatic

Dogmatic:


1. characterized by or given to the expression of opinions very strongly or positively as if they were facts
2. Of or pertaining to or characteristic of a doctrine or code of beliefs accepted as authoritative
3. based on assumption rather than empirical observation
4. tending to force one's opinions on other people

So why would I list all of these different definitions for dogmatic you ask? I lead half marathon clinics out of one of the biggest stores in the lower mainland. When I originally started doing these 5 years ago we had about 70 - 80 people that would register. This current clinic as an official registration of 113, in actuality there are about 121 committed to the training program for Sunday long runs and then there are the drop-ins - folks that want the group run and the distance but feel they don't need the structure of the clinic - this makes up about 30 - 60 other runners that join us on Sunday runs.

You can see that the groups now become massive and with Vancouver being an outdoor sports city it is really important that we respect other groups - walker, cyclists, runners, and cars to ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience.

So again back to Dogmatic - as each clinic wraps up we ask folks to give feedback on the clinics, instructors and such. Yesterday I was reviewing the feedback - a lot of comments on pace leaders being too fast, groups too large, 2 pace leaders per group - which we do, pace leaders need to check on people at the back, too many talks, and so on and so forth. - The usual. Then I came to the last one and read it and my heart broke.

They had 2 chief complaints - they said they had been left behind in the dark on a Thursday workout - which in 5 years has never happened - there is always someone at the back to run with the last person - I personally make sure of it - often people will say I am okay go on and we refuse and say that no-one runs alone so I was sad to see that and need to find out how - to my knowledge no-one was left behind.

It was the next line that broke my heart - Shaun is Dogmatic and does not appear to have the people skills needed. In 5 years I have never had an assessment like this - I have been told I am authoritative - that I crack the whip that I push - but never have I been called Dogmatic. They indicated that I was not supportive or enthusiastic - harsh words to say the least. However in the next sentence they also said that their running had improved, they were stronger and that they felt they got a lot from hill technique?!?! So the message was confusing.

Now I know don't take it personally - but I do - I am very passionate and dedicated to these clinics - I take to heart what people say and when someone specifically points me out and personalizes their comments I take it personally. So after having a melt down with my life coach - she started to put it into perspective. She said 1 person had these comments - one. Okay I will give you that. She said not everyone will like you - WHAT?!?! Okay not everyone will like me. She then made me look up the definition of Dogmatic and challenged me to blog about it. And so here we are.

Yep I guess I am dogmatic if you say authoritative, opinionated, strong beliefs. Now let’s look at this in a positive way - Coach said I had to....

I am responsible for over 100 people - yes I have a co-coach and yes I have group leaders. Now my co-coach is great but she is 2nd in command and the group leaders are amazing but they are volunteers. My name and reputation are stamped all over this clinic - has been for 5 years. I have a lot of repeats - people who have done the clinic over and over again. So yep I am responsible for the success and safety of 100 + runners.

This means that I have to be authoritative - run with your pace leader, carry a map, let folks know if you are injured or not well, share the paths/trails, single file on bridges, bring water bottles/nutrition - yep authoritative - if I don't then we get pace leaders ran too fast, someone almost got hit by a bike, group leader did not know I was injured and dropped me, people almost passing out from dehydration and so on.

Strong opinions as if they were facts - I have been racing since 2001. I have done the BMO half marathon alone 6 times, I won't even mention all the other half's I have done. I have run 5 fulls, done countless triathlons at all distances, bike race - I could go on and on but you see where I am going with this. 5 years - 3 clinics a year ... I have street creed. I have made probably every mistake you can make with regards to training and racing. I have come from the back of the pack to middle to near the front. So yes I have strong opinions and thoughts about running and training but I believe I have the knowledge to back them up.

Lastly I am very passionate about every single one of my runners - I KNOW they can do their race and I will push them if I think it will help them and they ask me to. I care how each one does - why else would I make them personal finisher certificates/awards? Why I would I make sure to run with every group? Why did I walk back the last 2km last Sunday with one of runners because she felt sick and wobbly?

So after thinking about it - yep I am dogmatic and proud to be - if it means believing so strongly in you that it overwhelms then so be it. If it means ensuring that every single runner gets back safely, so be it. If it means that the general public sees us as ambassadors to running rather than a pesky juggernaut of runners every Sunday because I force you to run 2x2, so be it. And if it means that you’re running improved and you became stronger so that you will ultimately finish your race and find success then so be it.

I guess being called Dogmatic isn't so bad after all.

Peace out
Shaun