The girl next door - working for Defense?
The girl next door wants to start her secondary vocational education at the Ministry of Defense after the summer. And for that she has to take a fitness test. Since I am a regular runner, her mother thought it would be a good idea to let her run with me a few times. "She already cycles to school for an hour, so doing a bit of running should not be a problem."
Every change goes from A to B. Point B (the test) is crystal clear: 2,200 meters in 12 minutes. As an experienced runner, I know that this is not "a bit". I start to recognize Biases, I reflect hopefully on the conversation with her mother.
The first time we run, we start quietly. We talk a bit, but even at a slow pace, the talking is too much for the girl next door. Once she has warmed up, we will test what point A is: an average pace of 7:30 per kilometer, exactly 2 minutes per kilometer too slow. She sprints, then drops to jogging, walks a bit, then starts jogging again and is exhausted at the end. I now realize that point B is not at all as clear as I thought, when is that test?
Observing is something I have learned at Shell in recent years. I watch carefully how she runs and listen to her. I notice that the girl is very motivated. She works as a volunteer at the fire brigade and would really like to join Defense. However, her skills are a problem. Despite the fact that she wants to train hard, she cannot keep running during a training.
When we come home, her mother is still optimistic. Before I leave, I quickly ask: "When is that test?" The neighbor tells me it is only in 3 weeks.
As soon as I come home, I make a clear list: Point A: 1) running condition is low, 2) breathing is too fast, 3) step rate too slow, 4) tending to give up, 5) average pace 7:30/km. Point B: test in 3 weeks!, average pace 5:30/km. Because we have little time, I make an intensive training program with varied training sessions focusing on endurance and sprint ability.
We have a lot of fun running together. Her breathing improves quickly, blisters are resolved, but we seem to be unable to change her step rate. I realize again that point B is not clear enough yet: what exactly should the step rate be? 180 steps per minute. That is the missing link to success, translating goals into behavior. (But how? is a nice motto for my company in formation)
No matter what I do or try to let her do, her step rate does not go up and she does not run faster. I dive into my new methods and ask myself a question: how can I make it easy for her? I systematically analyze the possibilities and quickly realize that she needs a "prompt". As soon as I put the JBL box in my backpack with 180 beats per minute, she starts to run a lot more efficiently and faster. This is the breakthrough!
Prescribe the critical behavior: 180 steps per minute (train to music)
She is right to be proud of that
Last Sunday, we had something to celebrate. We ate a cream cake with which she wanted to celebrate her success. "What are you most proud of?", I asked. "I did not give up", she said with a big smile. "The cooperation exercise in which we had to walk, crawl and climb with heavy boxes, was really difficult. During that test I had to vomit twice and I just continued."
The interval training sessions in which we trained in difficult moments as well had helped C. to see herself as someone who can persevere if necessary (identity). She is right to be proud of that!
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