I have been running for around 2 decades, but I didn’t start coaching until I had around a decade and a half of experience. My early years of coaching were just in terms of helping out some friends and starting to really branch out and pay attention to more than just my own personal training or my immediate teammates.
After a few years of that, I began taking a more active role and officially become a coach. I started out by getting a coaching certification through the Road Runners Club of America (the RRCA.) That’s when I started coaching through a local running store, working with the owner and a few other coaches to help runners in my local community reach their goals and get fit.
Most of the runners have been adults, with an occasional high school student that would join our programs, and their goals ranged from losing weight to running their first race to setting a PR in a marathon.
I think one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned while I’ve been coaching there is just how much the little goals can really matter. It’s a great feeling, and one of the most rewarding parts of being a coach, when you can greet your runners behind the finish line and they’ve met a time goal or finished their first race at that distance or had a certain experience that they’ve been looking for.
But no matter what somebody’s goal is, you just really need to help them define what it is that’s important to them so that you don’t just focus on what your goals as a coach necessarily are. Success is much easier to find when you find something that they’re going to be motivated by and will actually work towards and be able to achieve.
One of the greatest coaches and researchers in the field, Jack Daniels, says that, “A great coach is the result of a coach and a great athlete getting along well.” A coach is nothing without their runner; they are there to help their runner discover their own goals and it’s their job to make sure they meet them.
Sure, a coach might offer ideas and might help a runner unlock potential that they didn’t know they had, but if you aren’t interested in putting in the work to attain a goal that doesn’t inspire you then it will never happen, no matter how hard your coach works to make it so.
But when your coach knows what you really want to achieve, and you trust your coach to get you there, then great things can happen.