MODESTO -- Several years ago, after a performance at the Gallo Center, my son asked me: "Dad, why does the orchestra need a conductor? Can't the musicians just follow the music?"
It was actually a tough question. Kind of like asking why a sports team needs a coach. Really, the players could figure out things for themselves, just as the musicians can just follow the music.
I think I've figured out the answer: Guidance. That's what the conductor and coach are for.
And it's why having a running coach has been so important and made such a big difference in training for the marathon this time around.
I recently read a quote can't remember who said it that goes something like this: A coach gets his players to do things they don't want to do so that they can accomplish things they never thought they could.
My Team in Training coach, Rick King, has gotten me to do things I haven't in the past. And I'm thinking it'll pay off on April 7.
Now I warm up and stretch more thoroughly before and after every workout to avoid injury. I count my steps and have learned how to pace myself better.
My coach makes me run stairs and do interval workouts with strange names such as Mount St. Helens and Sis-Boom-Bah.
And a few weeks ago, he had me standing in a freezing river.
I honestly thought the man was crazy or just mean. But to his credit I think it worked.
After running 14 miles in Knight's Ferry, he sent me and my teammates to the river to stand in the frigid water. My reaction: And just why would I do that?
He gave a short explanation of the cold water's effects on my blood vessels and how it would clean my body of the toxins built up during the run. Frankly, I thought he was full of it. But I want to be a good member of the team, so to the river I went.
There I was, standing in the icy water, praying I could last the 10 minutes suggested by my coach. The first four minutes were sure agony. A teammate talked me into sticking it out. After that, my legs went numb and the last six minutes weren't so bad.
So, was my coach crazy?
Turns out, maybe not. The day after the run my legs felt surprisingly good. I even worked in a four-mile "recovery run" and felt pretty strong.
I don't know if it was the water's effects or if it was all in my head, but my recovery from a tough workout was better than usual.
Bottom line: Having a coach has made me a smarter, better runner.
The conductor has me ready. I just hope I can hit the right notes.
Reach Jim Silva at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @mission26point2.