Changing Coaches - Young athletes confused by coaching pattern with different coaches taking them over time.
I took about 6 top runners, in the past, in year 1990, who joined me for running when I was an athlete cum coach. It was my best years of learning on coaching. In one of the 3km race, organised by the former SAAA, I did 9min 02sec for 3km race held at Seletar. (The best runner was M. Maran, 3km, with a time of 9m 00sec. He was the talk of the town, at that time. He is still currently holding the 3000m steeplechase national record, with a time of 9min 11sec. Maran has a personal best time of 3m 53sec for the 1500m).
In that 3km race, one of my former runner Harpreet Singh, about 15 years old, at that time, came in 4th in the race, with a time of 9min 06sec. The admirable thing about him was that he beat N. Ganesan, former national record holder, previously, with a time of 14m 51sec for 5km. All Gurkha runners lost to him, although the Gurkha runners were fast at that time. Harpreet is one of the best genetically endowed runner that I have seen in my life. His studies improved through running. Later on, he stopped running as his father was not supportive of it at all. His studies dropped when he stopped running.
The interesting thing that I saw in coaching was that if I train a runner who has not been trained under anyone, the runner does not easily argue at all or debate much. Harpreet, trained with me from young, listened to me word for word in training and his improvement was tremendous at time. He could have gone for Olympics.
I have seen in life, that a runner, who has been trained under someone, will be prone to argue most of the time. My own runners, trained by me, in the past, who went under others in the past have argued with other coaches. N. Ganesan was coached by two coaches before being trained by me. There were certain pattern of training method that he followed that created confusion in his mind, while Harpreet and others who trained when they were young, being coached by no one, did not have any problem. I had a lot of problem explaining about Arthur Lydiard training method to Ganesan. My enjoyable easy runs usually ended up in big argument, hence usually I do my best to avoid running together with him. However, I must also say that it was with Ganesan that I was also motivated in running, as we keep talking about breaking national record.
I assisted N. Ganesan to do a 15min 41min from a time of 16m 46sec, when he was in the National Service. I left for further studies after that. Eric Song and Paul Rainer trained him later. I saw Eric and told him to continue training Ganesan. Ganesan and I were great friends at that time, although we debated and argued on training methods, for me, I felt that he has been programmed and it takes time to deprogramme.
The problem was that I used to feel my energy drained after an argument. I realised that if a kid was coached in primary school with a certain pattern, it will affect the kid when the coaches keep changing, when they go through secondary, college and university with different coaches.
That is the reason why I was, in the past, and even now, reluctant to take a runner into my fold although the runner has tremendous potential, when I come to find out that the runner was earlier trained by someone. Deprogramming has to take place and it is not easy, so that coaching takes place in a structured manner.