Reflections: Regionals 2014 by max el-hag

Conner Moore, Liz Carrier, Ryne Sullivan, and Nic Martin all competed on teams in the past two weekend’s regionals. I am so grateful for my experience personally coaching, programming for, consulting with, testing, and helping people at all different levels of performance in the sport. From the highest level Games athlete to the fitness enthusiast that just wants to pursue their fitness and continue to improve their physical potential without ever competing in the sport. I realize that it would be smarter as a business owner to pour my time into attracting the highest level of athletes and putting less time into athletes that aren’t in the top one percentile of elite genetics. However, I find that coaching at this ‘best of the rest’ level is highly fulfilling and intellectually stimulating. It brings me into contact with people that have to refine their methods, find their limitations, improve upon their mental fortitude, work endlessly on their weak points, and refine their training to the most optimal level to succeed. People at the highest level generally don’t have the same level of attention to detail as the next subset of athlete, mostly do to the fact that they don’t need to, and it would lower their ability to stay in the zone that allows them to have fun while they’re improving. From my experience, athletes ‘in the trenches,’ go through broader ranges of emotions because they are forced to deal with frustration, low yielding training phases, programming that exposes weaknesses, constantly experimenting with supplementation/nutrition, etc. So, I am extremely grateful to work with all four of these athletes, who are still extremely fit! All four have a unique story and a place in my growth. While none of them will likely reach a level that makes me a ‘famous coach,’ all of them have helped me become a better coach and I in turn will continue to work my ass off to make them better athletes.

Because I am going to target all four in one post, I am going to mention something short and sweet on each of them, different than how I addressed individual competitors.

Conner is biologically disadvantaged to compete in the sport. He is tall, with long limbs, heavy, and powerful more than he is enduring. He is starting a new business, seeking to become a professional athlete in the NPFL, a great coach, and one of the hardest working and most honest (with himself) athletes I work with. We have been continuing to build his capacity to tolerate the contraction volume of the sport and while we didn’t achieve our initial target goal of the year, we will redefine our purpose for the year and move forward with positive momentum.

Ryne and Liz are both from the same team. Both are on the very powerful end of the athletic spectrum and we have been working to build gymnastics capacity, aerobic engine, technical improvements, etc. The workout subsets for teams this year didn’t line up well for their entire team, but we will continue to refine them into more polished competitors from year to year. Ryne is one of the nicest athletes I work with. Almost to the point that it makes me uncomfortable cause I am by nature, kind of a blunt boor. He continually puts the work in and continually improves. He is the ideal athlete to work with and I have a feeling he may make a push for an individual bid to the regionals next year. Liz is also extremely nice/community drive and very a very powerful athlete. Liz is one of the most psychologically impressive athletes I work with in that she continually trains outside of her natural physiology. Liz is one of the most powerful females I’ve worked with in the sport and without really doing ‘much’ strength training, continues to get more powerful. Her gymnastics and endurance numbers have risen quite substantially while working together, and will continue to be priorities for our training year. Liz, much like Ryne, is amazing to work with. Her continued success will likely be fueled by her diligence, honesty, and self-reflection and I am very glad I have had the opportunity to watch them both grow so much as athletes.

Nic is an interesting athlete. I sent Nic a note personally to express how impressed I was with his year, but thought I would share just a glimpse of it and let him know that I think other people should know how impressive it’s been. Nic came to me after a difficult ending to his season last year. I was honest with him that he seemed kind of beat up, over trained, and behind the eight ball to try to accomplish what it was he wanted to set out to do. We came to find out he had tears in both patellar tendons (which is EXTREMELY painful) and during the course of the year tore one of his pecs! We substantially lowered Nic’s training volume, got surgery and treatment for all the injuries, and still tried to make a run for regionals on short time. He ended up having a couple bad workouts on game day during the opens and missing out on that opportunity. However, he qualified for a team, ended up competing and most importantly had more personal growth as an athlete than I’ve seen in any single person in a short period of time. I think my greatest reason for coaching is the opportunity to learn. I am passionate about the intellectual pursuit of understanding people and the impossible complexity of the sport, the people, the limitations, the endocrine system, and the biomechanics that drive improvement and the quest for maximum genetic potential. But most importantly, I think that I respect the people and learn about more about myself with each encounter. Nic provided a mirror to see myself more clearly. His strength of will, willingness to suffer for a quest, desire to learn to have fun, search for balance in the growth of his life, etc all inspired me to sit back and challenge myself to become a better person and coach. Nic is someone I will forever remember in my coaching history. He is an amazing example of the power of will and opening up to the experiences life throws at you. We cannot always choose our life’s circumstances and outcomes, but we can control our reactions to them.

Thank you all for the opportunity to coach you and continually challenging me to be better.

~ Max

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Max El-Hag
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