What I've Learned Being a Run Coach
1. Find your own. Great coaching is a craft. It can’t be copied or “funnelled” because it is so richly created through years of professional and personal experience. The nature of run coaching is dynamic, evolving and so uniquely different from one athlete to the next that you have to be firmly rooted in your philosophies to effectively coach others. Identifying and refining your core philosophies as a coach is critical. This doesn’t mean that you can’t learn new things (a great coach is always seeking out new information), but it does mean making decisions to apply that knowledge in a way that elevates and doesn’t water down your coaching. 2. How are you feeling? This is single handedly the most important question I can ask one of my athletes. This opens a channel for me to listen and learn about how things are going physically and mentally for the person. It’s through this question that I learn valuable information - how that athlete is sleeping, if they have a sick kid, had a long day at work, that their legs feel tired… I need to know these things because they are a crucial part of training and sometimes need to be met with schedules changes that adjust for these added stressors. Alternately, if that athlete is doing great, this is a key opportunity to get a sense for what factors in that athletes life contribute to them feeling good. 3. There are excuses. The hashtag “no excuses” has driven me up the wall since the dawn of time (or more accurately the dawn of MLM fitness and their cheap marketing tactics). This isn’t a rant, it’s valuable insight I’ve gained from experience. Shame is not a catalyst for long term success. There are valid excuses. Asking athletes to train through things like lack of sleep, overwhelming life stress, and other lifestyle influenced factors is lazy coaching. There are good excuses and as coaches we need to recognize that and support our athletes through it. 4. Personal experience counts for a lot (but it cannot be downloaded onto your athletes the same way it applied/applies to you). A coach with robust experience in the sport is a non-negotiable quality. To coach well you need to have been kicked in the teeth a few times, and you also need to have preserved and achieved success through dedication and good training. Success isn’t necessarily a certain race time or podium finishes - a fast runner doesn’t necessarily make someone a great coach, but the ability to call on experience to relate with an athlete does! On the contrary, always be cognizant that what worked for you, may not work for your athlete. 5. Polarization and periodization: Hard days hard, easy days easy - this isn’t new information, but it’s a critical component of good coaching. Periodization - always have an eye on the bigger picture 6. You can’t chase 2 rabbits at once. Work with your athlete to choose a focus. Make sure that goals are clear and well defined. 7. Postpartum return to running - we need to slow our clients down. The 6-week doctor clearance guideline just doesn’t cut it when it comes to returning to running following pregnancy and delivery. New research suggests that barring no other complications, light jogging may be resumed at 12-weeks, following a progression of exercises. Have a GREAT women’s health physiotherapist recommendation readily available for your prenatal and postnatal clients. 8. The root of good goal setting and programming is always long term athletic development. Constantly ask yourself this question. The answer needs to be yes.