Ame For It Coaching: So You Want to Be a Run Coach
Open the IG. You know. The gram, man. Chances are, if you’re reading stuff on our site, some form of running will be showin’ up in your Instagram feed. Influencers galore. Ambassadors everywhere. Post-run selfies for days. And you know what?
I can guarantee at least 30% of the runners you follow on IG are running coaches.
We have an abundance of coaches out there today. I’m one of them (obviously). And guess what? I’m okay with it.
Coaching is one of the oldest and greatest professions in the realm of sports. If you truly love it, you’ll never stop doing it. Many of my mentors in run coaching are still going at it. Thirty, 40, even 50 years strong of helping runners of all abilities achieve goals and dreams. And that doesn’t even include my mentors in other sports. Like the greatest college football coach to ever live, Bear Bryant, from Titletown, Alabama (that one was for you, Patrick Fellows). Roll Damn Tide.
In last month’s article, we talked about what to look for when shopping for a coach. This time around, we’re going to give you a run-through on what to expect if you become one. Because I see it every day. New coaches pop up all over. At some point, the question crosses a runner’s mind: should I coach?
Here are six things to be mindful when considering a deep dive into this profession.
1) Don’t be scared. Go for it.
Just like anything in life, if you don’t take a chance on something, how the hell will you ever know where it could get you? Buck up and commit.
2) Know the sport.
Know it inside and out. Like seriously. There are many certifications out there for run coaching. But I’ll tell you right away, not many of them actually create solid coaching. In fact, many of the best coaches are self-taught and had great mentorship growing up. Word of mouth and the product you put on the line wins in this business, not what certifications you have. Can you produce results?
Read your books, talk to other coaches who have been around a while. I get people asking me all the time what it’s like to coach before they dive in. I love it!
Be patient in learning. You can’t fake the funk in run coaching. You can easily injure the hell out of runner if you don’t know what you’re doing. Spend enough time learning core values, like rest is best and to always trust your gut as a coach.
Take notes! A lot of them. Never read any form of science without a notepad next to you and a highlighter. You should see my stash of running literature. Insane. Whether I agree with it or not, I studied it. You should too!
3) Can you coach?
Like really. Do you know how to coach? Sounds cut and dry, but it isn’t. And the biggest thing of all: do you have patience?
Can you keep the athlete up mentally after a massive string of success, yet be there to teach him/her how to handle the sense of defeat or injury?
This sport is so mental. As a coach, you got to be able to handle a roller coaster of emotions with athletes and always keep your cool.
There will be more downs than ups when working with runners. It’s the foundation of why our sport of running is actually so damn hard when you want to train seriously for it. Without an athlete having success, he or she will rarely ever see victory.
4) This is not a part-time gig.
If you’re really going to dive into coaching, know it up front and know it well. This is not a hobby. I see hobby coaches out there a lot. Inevitably, I hear many stories of how they all lack follow-through or commitment to you, the athlete. Expect to do this 24/7/365. Your athletes will need you, some more than others. You need to be available to help them.
Know your athletes’ every little detail in terms of running. That way you always know where they are at. You can even see patterns and cycles better in the way they are acting, thinking, and training.
This all takes a significant amount of time, but it creates a better coaching bond.
5) Follow through.
Respond to your calls, texts, and emails ASAP! It shows follow through, yet also teaches the athlete that you take your coaching role seriously. It motivates them to take their training seriously.
If the athlete needs something, get it to them. If you say you are going to call them, call them. Utilize your Google calendar. Trust me, you’ll need it when you get a bunch of athletes and you’re trying to organize your calls.
Talk is cheap if you can’t back it up!
6) Take time for yourself.
I used to get burned out all the time. As the athlete roster built, I let the stress of juggling more coaching rip me apart. I don’t let that shit bother me anymore. Why? I detach from coaching at night and aside from my own training as a runner, I do so many things outside of running.
My wife is a marathoner, ultramarathoner and kickboxing instructor. She’s in the same boat. We have learned to detach! We hit up live shows, festivals and do tons of stuff outside. We live in Cali, man. It’s an endless summer. It’s the perfect detach.
Those who surround themselves with this sport 24/7 get buried early in their career as a coach. The coaches who have been around for a long time all have found the balance between work and outside life. In almost 18 years of coaching runners, I just only recently found the balance. It takes time because you care so much about your athletes. You create a special relationship.
For anyone out there looking to dive into the run coaching world, I wish you the best of luck and I hope this gave you some guidance to kick things off on the right foot. Please feel free to get ahold of me with any questions! I’m here to help. I love to give back to the run community. We are a special group and have a special bond in this community. We need to continue to utilize each other.
Peace, love and chicken grease,
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