Dan John: I’m The Coach and I’m Always Right

Sometimes athletes just don’t hear what their coach is saying . . . whether you are guiding their diet, training or performance, make sure they hear you.


Kingly diets are like the Mediterranean approach. It’s something we could live our lives doing. As we were told years ago at the Olympic training center, “If you guys are centering your diets around lean protein, vegetables and clear water, you will all be fine.”

We’re like warriors asking, “What did he say?”

He said, “Lunch is in an hour.”

“Oh, okay. Good.”

You can’t hear. Honestly if you have a high school boy who will eat lean protein, vegetables and clear water for his life, is that pretty good advice.

Having said that, let’s work this out.

There are times in your life when you will not have park bench workouts and kingly eating. In other words, a reasonable diet and reasonable workouts. How much of your life should be like that? I think, most of the time.

There are times when maybe you have a reunion coming up. You want to ratchet down your diet, so that would be the warrior diet, a kind of a tough, warrior diet. I suggest you still train reasonably then. I bet you could do that once or maybe twice a year—maybe once a year for most of us.

As an athlete, there are times I have to ratchet up my training. Say, I’m going to set myself up for the Nationals or getting ready for the State meet. Okay, we just slid over to a bus bench workout.

When I’m coaching you, I expect you to show up at 8 o’clock on Friday and I want you to win the State meet. Why?

That’s what I told you to do. I’m the coach and I’m always right.

It actually works out when you say it like that.

What we’re going to do for the next few weeks is bus bench this thing. We’re going to peak. At that time, I always have my athletes do a reasonable diet. Please don’t do a juice fast getting ready for the Nationals. I say that to people and they look at me like, “I would never . . . okay, I did that one time.”

About twice a year, I can probably put myself onto a peaking program and ride it up on the exercise side. They’re tough workouts, but I better have a reasonable diet. Marty Gallagher thinks this. Tommy Kono thinks this.

Here’s the problem with the fitness industry. When your clients hear you say they should be on a warrior diet and a bus bench workout, they really hear, “I should be on a juice fast and I should be slamming my face against the wall in every workout.”

That’s what they hear. How often can you do that?

Years ago when I was in college I had friends who were bodybuilders. When they were getting ready for a contest, I went to help them train. You would think it was because of my genius, but no, it was literally to help them train.

One guy was on just lettuce for a few weeks. That’s all he ate. When trained, he would do a set and fall on the floor during his rest period. My job was to pick him up and get him back to the incline bench. He would then kind of wither away. He didn’t hit the ground every time, but let’s say for half of the workout. The rest of the time he was just a drooling mass. How often can you do that?

Here’s the thing. That’s what your clients think. That’s what my athletes think.

“Coach, I’m going out for the 400 meters. I put myself on this diet.”

You don’t have to worry about dieting when you run the 400 meters. I’ll take care of that for you. Eat the biggest lunch you can. Don’t worry about it. You’ll see it again.

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