I’d been thinking about how I could get into run coaching for a while. I think it was the first time I picked up the Jack Daniels Running Formula book that I thought “this is really interesting!”
I love the science and numbers side of improving running fitness. Admittedly I’m very analytical. But I wondered how I could get into coaching with absolutely no background in running other than a year or two experimenting with training techniques on myself!
A bit of research on the England Athletics website showed that it’s quite a process to get into coaching. I found the myriad of courses a little bit confusing and it put me off for a while. Fast forward to summer 2014 and I still had something in the back of my mind whispering that I was interested in getting started on the road to coaching.
Anyway, I ended up booking onto the Leadership in Running Fitness Course here in Newcastle earlier this month. The course is a mixture of classroom sessions and out door practical sessions.
The course cost me personally £150 but it’s possible to pay a reduced fee of £130 with a club affiliation. Another common option is for running clubs to send members on the course for free.
I didn’t pursue either of the cheaper routes as it was a bit of a spur of the moment decision for me to take the plunge and I didn’t have time to speak to my club. I also just wanted to go into it “eyes wide open” with no real idea whether I’d do anything with it.
From a selfish point of view I thought I might learn a lot I could use with my own personal training!
The aim of the course is to give the student a good base of learning and understanding so that you are in a position to confidently lead a running session.
The subjects covered are as follows –
• Barriers to participation in running
• Session planning
• Pre session safety, warm up, group organisation and management
• Stretching and mobility
• Fitness factors, energy systems, different sessions
• Delivering a session
• Goal setting – SMARTER
• Injuries and footwear
• Role of the leader
The course involves one full day and there is no assessment. Overall I found the course to be interesting and useful but perhaps a little crammed into the time allotted.
For me personally the Practical sessions were the most important as these really put me out of my comfort zone as I have no background in teaching at all. I have a lot of experience public speaking in a business environment so the necessity to be confident in front of a group was not really an issue.
The issue which caused my nervousness is that I’m not an authority in this area…although maybe I do myself a disservice.
During the Warm Up practical I struggled a little as I didn’t have a variety of warm up techniques in mind to keep the session flowing. I’m not the best thinking on the fly and prefer to plan everything in detail in advance. Also, I have to hold my hand up and say that I am the runner who warms up by jogging for 5 minutes and that’s it! From this point of view I got a lot from the training in terms of takeaways I can use myself!
Same goes for stretching, I just don’t do it – at least not enough. So it was good to cover again the importance of stretching post session.
Being most interested in fitness factors, energy systems and different sessions I thought the training was light in this area and I came away thinking that the course is predominantly aimed at training leaders who will mainly lead Beginners groups. This is not really what I want to do, being more interested in coaching runners 1 on 1 and setting goal specific training plans. I guess it confirmed that I do know quite a bit already in this area simply by having read books alone. Maybe I just need to put some of it into practice and give it a go.
In the afternoon we did the “Delivering a Session” practical and this pulled together pretty much everything we learned on the course. I did really enjoy this and I did feel confident that this is something I am capable of doing so definitely food for thought.
I am aware that I need to put into use the skills I learned on this course before I can realistically think about progressing to the Coach in Running Fitness course which is much more involved – 2 days with assessments on a third day.
A big plus point was the chance to meet a lot of other runners on the course. Everybody had their own background and reason for being there and it was nice to meet some new faces to talk to about running and bounce ideas off.
It made me realise that I exist in my own little bubble in the north east running scene – I train alone and pop up at races every now and again. But I don’t really get involved at the club and I’d like to get myself “out there” more in future.
But to be completely honest I am still not 100% sure what I will do with the course.
The next step is to get my Disclosure and Barring Service check complete and obtain my license and take it from there.
The great thing is that the following benefits are given to all registered Run England group leaders (registration is free) –
• Public liability insurance cover for the group
• Services for group members
• Marketing tools to assist you in setting up your group and attracting new members
• Help and support as needed
So once I’m registered I may take the plunge and try to set up a running group!
Watch this space.
If you are interested in reading my deeper thoughts on running and specifically how to improve over the 5km distance please take a look at my new website blog at http://www.run5kfaster.com and subscribe to the Newsletter!