Things Coaches Say (and What They Mean)

A short phrasebook for decoding coach-athlete conversation
Staff Writer

By Susan Lacke—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 five miles with a pack of rabid pigs chasing you. It’s much more than that.

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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 of what I’ve been able to decipher so far:

COACH SPEAK:
“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 OK, 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:

ATHLETE SPEAK:
“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.” = OK, 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.

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