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Out There: Say What?!

Coaches and athletes don't always speak the same language.

Coaches and athletes don’t always speak the same language. 

Over the past nine months, one thing has become abundantly clear: My coach and I do not speak the same language. It’s not just our interpretation of what an “easy” run is — I think it’s jogging to the all-you-can-eat frozen yogurt place, while his ludicrous notion is 5 miles with a pack of rabid pigs chasing you.  It’s much more than that.

While sometimes he gives me instructions I can understand, sometimes he might as well be speaking that African clicking language. It’s taken me a while, but I’ve used extensive anthropological methods to figure out what he really means when he says certain things. Here’s a rundown if what I’ve been able to decipher so far:


“I just wrote your training plan for this week.” = The other coaches got a real kick out of this one. We laughed and laughed and..I guess you had to be there.

“I think you’ll have fun with this one.” = I have never experienced fun in my life.

“It’s not going to hurt you.” = You’ll be sitting on bags of frozen peas for the next four days.

“You might want to do this on the treadmill.” = You’re going to make noises during this workout that resemble a hippo giving birth. Please don’t scare your neighbors.

“Don’t forget to hydrate!” = You drank too many margaritas last night, you lush. Don’t lie. I saw the photos on Facebook.

“Aww, don’t be so hard on yourself.” = Please stop crying. You’re scaring me.

“Let me know how it goes.” = I could really use a good laugh.

“You’ll get a nice recovery next week.” = Aww, that’s so cute. You really think you’re gonna get a recovery week, don’t you? Aww.

Yes, I know…crazy people, those coaches. It’s okay, though, because I speak the language of my people, the little ones doing all the back-breaking work while the coaches sit in the shade, being fanned with palm fronds and hand-fed grapes. Here’s the coach’s guide to what runners say.


“That was challenging.” = I hate you. 

“There were some pretty tough intervals.” = I hope you die in a fire.

“I think I must be coming down with something.” = Okay, fine! I had too many margaritas last night.

“That was great!” = You can’t fool me. I’ve read about Milgram’s experiments. I know what you’re up to.

“Thanks, Coach. You’re the best.” = I have Stockholm Syndrome.

This column first appeared in the August 2012 issue of Competitor magazine.


About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Meat Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete boyfriend. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke