Rick Weinheimer- 'Who Do You Want to be 365 Days From Now?'

Who Do You Want to be 365 Days From Now?

One week ago today, the State Meet was taking place and the entirety of the attention of Indiana high school cross country was focused in Terre Haute at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course. Since then, many of us have had plenty of time to reflect on how that day went. Athletes and Coaches mostly have spent the week thinking about the things that went right and for some the things that they know could have gone better. That's the thing about sport and maybe even more so in running, we are not always going to have our best day on the biggest day.

Browsing results, some certainly had better days than others. Many teams and athletes placing higher than expected, running faster times than they ever have (which is tough at this course whenever you race there), and more importantly leaving the course with memories they didn't have before. So, for the good and the bad that happened at the State meet last Saturday, many athletes and coaches may be asking themselves "whats next?" or "where do we go from here?" , "how can we better at this time next year than we were today?" These questions link to a question that I have seen asked and then have repeated to myself and my teams many times over the years. The question...Who do you want to be 365 days from now?

In 2016, my first season as an assistant at Bloomington High School South, was also the first season in 10 years that South failed to advance to the State meet. It was heartbreaking for a team and a group that consistently made the State meet and semi-state that year happened to be the day where sicknesses and sub-par performances combined for our worst team race of the year ending in an unwanted 8th place finish.

One week later after the 2016 State meet, I saw a tweet from Rick Weinheimer, the head coach of the Columbus North cross country teams, that read "Who do you want to be 365 days from now? What are you doing today to get yourself closer to that?". I sent the tweet to the rest of the coaching staff, and later shared with the team, with the intent to say a year from now we want to be at the state meet, what are we going to do between now and then to make that happen. 

This was my first major usage and execution of the quote "who do you want to be 365 days from now" but definitely not the last. I knew after this year's state meet I wanted coach Weinheimer to give his own expanded take on the quote to share with the rest of the Indiana running community. No matter how you did this year, and if you are lucky enough to have a chance at redemption, where do you want to be a year from now when the State meet rolls around again. 

Below you can read the message that Coach Weinheimer generously shared with MileSplit Indiana.

Every year during the week after the state cross-country meet, I felt empty. Whether our teams finished first or twentieth, whether we were thrilled or disappointed, I always felt empty.

Part of that was coming down from the adrenaline-packed preparation of the last few days of the season and the high emotional excitement of the final race. Part of it was how time seemed to slow down after the season. But it was more than that. It was the emptiness of the end of a time capsule, the feeling that comes when a long-range goal is over, the sadness of knowing that this team-a group that ran, sweat, cried, and celebrated together for days/weeks/years-would never be together again in that same way.

I've read that many Olympics athletes have a similarly empty feeling at the conclusion of the Games, the feeling that comes from working tirelessly toward a goal for a long time, and suddenly that journey is over.

Over time I even began to anticipate that blah week coming every year. And I while I knew that the first week (or month) after the season was going to be a struggle for me, I still dreaded that feeling.

Then one year, on the Monday after the State Meet, I saw this quote: "The next 30 days will pass whether you use them or not; where do you want to be a month from now?" That thought really resonated with me, and the emptiness I was feeling inside began to grow into a feeling of hope and excitement. Isn't the end of one time capsule the beginning of another? How can I use this "slow" time as an important part of my life journey?

With those questions in mind, I adapted the quote:

Who do I want to be 365 days from now?

With this challenge in mind, the days after the State Meet grew to be a time of renewal for me, intentional and purposeful thought and planning for personal growth. With that intention came positive energy. With that energy came a sense of purpose.

Three of the things I learned about this process:

1. It gives me more energy, more enthusiasm, and more of a sense of daily mission.

2. Throughout the years, the "who I want to be" changes because my life experiences and perspective change.

3. This isn't directly about coaching. It's about first working to become the person I want to be, and that personal growth always led to my growth toward becoming the "coach that I want to be."

Are we ever too old for reevaluating, for recharging, for renewing?

To paraphrase a famous thought: "One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is that someday we will be 'grown up.' In truth, the process of growing is lifelong." As humans, we all need to continue to reflect, to renew, and to grow...it's a never-ending journey. What a great opportunity to start at the finish of a season!

Therefore, here, at the end of Cross-Country 2022, I give you this question:

Who do you want to be 365 days from now?

Enjoy your journey. 

Rick Weinheimer