The Importance of a Coach

I had a really good 41st birthday.  Thanks for the comments on my “birthday blog”!! They are much appreciated!

I'm guessing the decorator was, um, happy?

I’m not sure whassup with the “Happy”, but we pronounced it as Daffy Duck would. Try it.

I was going to write about that and that I got back to RUNNING again after my two weeks down time from it, my 5k race (first time I’ve won $$MONEY$$) and crappy bike ride, but I decided to switch gears and talk about coaching.  My training is going well for the most part, and my race is less than three weeks away.

Yeah, that's me when I count the days until my big race. But I'm also excited.... to get to marathon training.

Yeah, that’s me when I count the days until my big race. But I’m also excited…. to get to marathon training.

I’ve coached two sessions of Stride and have learned a lot about 6th grade boys. The first day was “interesting” and I found that I needed to be more organized.  I need to keep them busy, too.  I was VERY thankful that I have the best assistants EVER. Really, I couldn’t do it without them. The second day was a lot of fun. We got rained on, one of the kids just walked away, and we got locked out of the school, but we figured it all out. I’m already getting attached to the boys and we have nine weeks to go. I think I like this coaching thing and am looking forward to what I can bring to each session.  I find myself thinking about it a lot. I think of things I can tell them, teach them, and encourage them about. I plan to teach them about pacing today since a prime example would be my 5k from Saturday – lesson being, DON’T START OUT TOO FAST!

I started taking the “Fundamentals of Coaching” class from USATF since I’m taking the “USATF Level I Coach Certification” class in November. It’s a good reminder on the influence one coach can have on a student.  I know coaches can be central to a student’s life and experience of a specific sport. I’m trying to be all that I know I should be, and it’s hard. Really hard. But I like it. I like the challenge, I like getting to know the kids, and I like teaching them. I like that two or three have asked if this program is available when they are in 7th grade. Too bad I have to say NO, but I’m working on that one.

My coach experiences are most memorable from junior high and early high school, when I LOVED to sprint. The 200 was my event, along with the 100 hurdles.  I remember begging him to let me run the 200 on my own so I could see what my time was. I remember being so utterly disappointed when I never could, as I was always in a relay. Funny that with all the other stuff I did in track those years, THAT is what I remember.  The disappointment. It seems simple to me, that he could put me in a 200, but he never did. It would’ve meant the world to me if he would have though. It sticks with me.

Then I think it was my freshman year when we had a coach who had no motivation to actually have us run. We would do a little here and a little there, but I clearly remember him being talked out of having us do our workouts in full. I was disappointed in that as well, because I was there to run and I knew I had to work to get faster so I could do well in the track meets. I remember being so disappointed again. I remember him letting some of my teammates talk down to him, and it made me respect him less. I didn’t trust him to lead us.

I remember my other high school track coach who was a runner herself. I trained so hard that year, and BAM, I ended up with terribly severe shin splints. They’re different from the ones I have now, but I remember rolling on the ground in pain after racing, crying because it felt like someone was tearing my muscle off my legs. She tried to help me, but at that point, there was nothing she could do but have me sit out at practice because the pain was too bad.

My husband played basketball all through high school. He was at every practice, did all the workouts, was a great student, and his coach didn’t play him. While we have our theories as to why, we know it had nothing to do with his ability.  I feel like my husband was robbed out of valuable experience because of the coach’s personal agenda, and it certainly shaped him and taught me of how important it is to put each student’s experience above my feelings about the student.

Fast forward to now, and my coaches are very different from the junior high and high school experiences, mostly because I’m on my own and it’s less of a “team performance” atmosphere, as expected. But Coach Kristen expects me to do my workouts. She listens to my feedback and puts in what she knows I can do to better myself to meet my goals. She answers my questions and lets me vent about my “legs feeling like ass” comments as I had only yesterday.  I have an accountability factor when I have a coach, which means a lot to me. I’m self-motivated, but it does make a difference when you have a running plan, especially on those mornings when I just want to sleep…  Coach Tom expects you to run to your potential. He’s yelled at me from across the track to motivate me to go faster, and I won’t forget the feeling I had from actually finishing my 6th or 7th 800 in 3:15, AFTER six days of hard, intense workouts. Many times, you rise to a coach’s expectations, and there’s no better feeling than doing something you never thought you could.

So with all that being said, do you hear the tiny violins playing over my coach experiences? No, really, what I’m looking for is YOUR experiences being coached or actually coaching others. I’m here to learn, and I’d love to hear other experiences. What did you like? What do you remember? What was good/bad/ugly?  I’d appreciate any comments!


Categories: beach 2 battleship triathlon, coaching, half iron distance, marathon, open water swimming, running, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “The Importance of a Coach

  1. I am very glad that I had a coach for the first 3 years of my training and racing, but this year I came to the realization that I could coach myself and would save a lot of money. I found that my coach wasn’t making adjustments to my training plan to meet MY needs instead of the needs of the general triathlon population. For instance, when I became injured early in the year, she did not make any adjustments to my training. I physically could not run, but she kept having tough run workouts scheduled for me. This is when I realized I was paying for nothing. I had already done Ironman once, I knew what I needed to do for me, my training, and my body…it was time to cut the strings and coach myself. If I am going to pay a coach, I want a coach who listens to my goals, listens to me (and my comments regarding workouts that I complete), makes modifications to my workouts as needed and helps me best meet my goals for me and my body.

  2. Happy happy birthday to you and I you’ve really put an idea in my head here. I’ve been back and forth on getting a coach for a long time and I think in preparation for spring it would be a great decision for me.

    • Thank you! And the key is finding the right coach for you. My coaches do “remote” coaching so let me know if you want to talk to them. They’re awesome. But so is having a coach right there. I do it for many reasons, but I’ve never regretted it. But I’ve also had mostly good experiences.

  3. Modernist Cavegirl

    I just found your blog a few weeks ago and I’ve really been enjoying it! In thinking back to my youth running experiences on the track team, there were two major areas I could have used better coaching–setting goals and dealing with injuries. I spent an entire season training with shin splints (or possibly stress fractures), and no one ever told me to get x-rays or helped me understand when it was okay to push through and when to rest. Particularly when you’re part of a team, there can be a lot of (perceived) pressure train through injuries and not let anyone down by backing off or resting. I also would have benefitted from having a coach help me set incremental goals for each meet and each season. I’ve always felt that just taking a ‘try your best’ approach with kids new to the sport or a particular race distance isn’t all that helpful or effective. It’s important to help kids understand what they’re capable of and how frame their goals within a larger context.

    It’s funny, but I’ve been seriously considering a coach for next marathon season, and even as an adult those are still the areas I need help.

    • Thank you so much for reading and for your feedback!!! And I would highly suggest a coach! Honestly, it’s hard to figure out what to help these kids with – we have so little time with so much that we are supposed to do, so you talking about goals, I think that’s something I need to really work on with the boys. And run-on sentences. Thanks again!!

  4. I didn’t do sports in school (I actively avoided them and usually tried to be scorekeeper, lol), but I did have a really mean Russian ballet teacher. I still have nightmares about her.

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