When it comes to my running I’m firmly of the belief that two heads are better than one. It’s why I have a coach. But does that make my running journey any less mine? Am I ‘cheating’ by having outside input into my running? In my view, absolutely not.
Why would I need a coach? I’m a qualified leader in running fitness. I also have a history of running, and was once a highly ranked teenage track athlete, so despite a 25 year break from running I still have some idea of what I’m doing. If there’s one thing I learned in those years though, it’s to delegate.
Running is, at times, hard enough. The way I see it, why make it any harder by doing all the analysis and planning myself? Having a coach plan my sessions and training cycles leaves my mind free to be able to focus completely on executing those sessions to the very best of my ability.
Little and often I see my coach, Sensev El-Ahmadi, three times a week. I also communicate with her regularly online or by phone. She monitors my running, putting together training programs that build towards the races that I want to do.
I love reading about running and different training techniques, but having a living breathing person giving ongoing feedback suits me far better than spending hours trawling over training manuals. The advantage of a coach over a downloaded training plan is if something’s not working we can discuss, make adjustments, even burn the plan if necessary, and try something else! In my view, the most helpful thing about having a coach is you’ve got someone there who’s objective about your running. I think it’s extremely hard to be objective about your own running. A coach offers a different viewpoint – pushing you if you need it, and also at times reining you in if you’re in danger of overtraining.
Brutal honesty Sen knows my running dreams, ambitions and goals better than anyone. She also knows my strengths and weaknesses. She offers support, encouragement and praise, but is also brutally honest when it comes to pointing out hard truths I may not want to hear. She’ll draw my attention to the fact that whilst I’ll happily bust a gut in interval session after interval session, I do occasionally come up with every excuse under the sun to avoid the aspect of training I like least – strength work! There’s no hiding when you’ve got a coach – no kidding yourself!
At times having a coach makes me feel accountable. I feel no shame in admitting there are days that really helps! Sen can’t do the running for me; that bit still has to come from me – it’s my part of the deal! But knowing she’s created a training plan completely tailored to my individual needs undoubtedly helps motivate me, and some days helps get me out the door for those cold winter morning runs. Having a coach doesn’t mean I don’t think about what I’m doing in my training myself – far from it! In fact I’m sure Sen would confirm I’m pretty opinionated about my running at times, and certainly not a passive receiver of instructions.
What we have is a healthy helpful ongoing dialogue. I count myself very lucky to have found a coach who suits me so well. ‘Horses for courses’ as they say; we’re all different, and I’m a firm believer that there’s a coach out there for everyone! Coaches are as varied as the runners they train. I once heard a senior running coach say that great coaching isn’t about producing elite athletes – it’s about bringing out the absolute best in each and every runner you work with, whatever their ability. I couldn’t agree more. And my coach most definitely brings out the best in me!
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