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  • Writer's pictureNathan Moody

Tribute to (my) Parents

As discussed elsewhere, ultra running has provided a context for studying some of the broader aspects of life. This post explores what has become a key realization for me and it touches on the philosophical, so consider yourself warned if this is not your thing.

Having observed the coaching culture within ultra running, I have seen that perhaps the highest accomplishment a coach can achieve with an athlete is bringing that athlete fit, healthy, and prepared to the start line of a race. This means a level of fitness commensurate to the challenge, injury-free training, specificity in preparation, and a framework or strategy for running the race. It is not the job of the coach to run the race either before, with, or for the athlete. Running the race is obviously the athlete’s job and the athlete must own the failures incurred on the course. But the successes on course are due largely to the coach having brought the athlete successfully to the startline. It is logically inconsistent for the athlete to take credit for on-course success, because (ideally) the athlete simply followed the strict preparation s/he was provided.

So the analogy I wish to make (as a parent and athlete) is that parenting shares some strikingly similar characteristics to a few aspects of coaching. Looking back on my up-bringing, I find that my parents did not do hardly any of the things I currently do (or the way I do them). At first pass, this could be mistaken as a disconnect between parent and child and a source of confusion or even conflict.

What I have come to realize is that my parents gave an incredibly powerful gift to me and my siblings: they brought us (injury free) to our respective starting lines prepared to race.

As any coach knows, this is quite hard. Using the language of this analogy, my parents did not attempt to run our races ahead of or for us or even try to understand what we might experience. As with an athlete, now our job as children is to do our best and recognize that we didn't get to our start lines on our own or by accident. We were given the incredible gift to be able to race well and anything good that comes of it is credited directly to the parents. Thank you Dad and Mom for getting us to the start line.

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