I’ve been thinking about this for a few days. I suppose I’ve always taken it for granted because I’ve had a coach for the last 20 years- the last 10 with the same coaches. So, I decided to take a. Look at it from a slightly different approach- what has having a coach meant to me? What have I hoped to provide to the athletes I coach?
To me, one of the most important things has been having a philosophy to buy into. Some people come to me and are seemingly lost in what they really want to accomplish and how they are going to get there. They’ll pick a few things up from buddies, and then something from the last issue of Runners World. They’ll piece it together because they like the workouts and it worked for other people. Having a coach means they’ll do the sorting for you. Your coach will be able to tell you when to do that workout you read about, why or why you shouldn’t do it, how to do it, and then what you got out of that workout. The important caveat here is that you, the athlete, have to buy into what your coach is telling you. If you don’t then it doesn’t really matter. It could be the best program in the world, but if it’s not believed in, then you won’t be successful with it. On the flip side, it could be a flyby night program but if you believe wholeheartedly in it, then you may be wildly successful with it!
The next biggest area that really benefits the athlete is what knowledge the coach can bring to the table. Let’s look at this way. Take myself for instance, right away you get 20 years of running trial and error- success and failures. Then, throw in the last 8 years of coaching and you literally have hundreds of scenarios that I’ve been involved with. A coach knows what’s a good or bad idea, when it’s time to rest, time to push, time to train, and time to race.
The last area I’ll discuss here is the idea of what a coach means beyond putting a workout in a calendar. There are athletes I’ve worked with for a number of years now. I’ve had the same coaches for a decade now. They’ve seen me at my highest points in life and my lowest. A lot of times they readied the ship by just staying calm and patient when I wasn’t. That is something I have tried to convey to athletes. Whether it’s running or it’s all the other aspects in life, a coach can be the constant in a chaotic life.
I’ll be honest, I can’t tell you what it’s like to train without a coach- I’ve never been without. What I can tell you is that I am positive that I wouldn’t be involved in the sport this long without my coaches. The only thing is finding the coach that you click with. We’ll leave that for another blog post. I will say that you’ll know when you find “the one.”