It’s no secret that I love many different aspects of running. Heck, I wouldn’t be writing a blog otherwise, right? Not only do I love running itself, but I love the research that goes into deciding on workouts, races, shoes, nutrition, and many other aspects of running, and I love talking to other people about it. In many ways, I’ve brought the same research skills I use in my professional life to my running life, and they’ve served me well. Over the years, as I’ve learned more and more, I’ve really enjoyed being able to help new runners, and provide advice to friends when it comes to their training, nutrition, race decisions, gear, and various other running-related items. So, when I saw the notice last fall that the RRCA (Road Runners Club of America) would be hosting their annual convention in Des Moines this year, and they would be offering a coaching certification class, I knew I had to sign up. After talking through (and justifying) the expense with the epicurean, I pulled the trigger and registered.
The coaching class (and convention) was held April 23-25, and it was a fantastic experience! Since we don’t have a RRCA chapter in Ames, I haven’t been involved with the organization in the past so this was my first opportunity to not only go through the certification course, but learn more about RRCA and network with folks around the country. The class itself was broken up into different modules and covered a wide range of topics. We spent three solid days learning the ins and outs of coaching while getting to know each other and picking the brains of three wonderful coaches and instructors with countless years of experience. The schedule was broken down as follows:
- Coaching History
- Types of Runners & their Training Needs
- Running Physiology
- Building a Periodized Program
- Coaching Nutrition
- The Business of Coaching
- Sports Psychology
- Building Training Programs
- Injuries, Heat, Altitude, and Running Form
- Case Study Work- Putting it all together!
It was clear from day one that a great deal of time and effort had been put into designing this course, which made the educator in my very happy and at ease with my decision. The course focused on all levels of running, which was nice to see and led to a very well-rounded experience. My own experiences running have mainly been the result of my own decisions, running with friends, and putting together training “programs” myself without necessarily knowing the “why” behind what I was doing. I can’t tell you how many issues of Runner’s World and online articles I’ve poured over since I started running, and there seems to be a new “go to” workout every month, which can make it hard to decide what is right for you, let alone what is right for someone else. This is where the information on physiology and training needs became very beneficial.
I’ve certainly talked to plenty of runners that ran in high school and college and learned second-hand about some of the workouts they completed. However, that was not a reality for this asthmatic kid, so it never really sunk in. Spending time in this course discussing how to set up a specific periodized program based on running needs and goals was incredibly beneficial and probably the most interesting aspect of the course for me. I feel like I have such a better understanding of how to go about helping folks train for reasonable goals, and how to measure their progress and adjust their training accordingly, which is key when working with folks who have individual needs, goals, and life circumstances. The information on nutrition, business, physiology, and psychology all seemed to provide the “why” and the “how” for making those training plans a reality. The result was an incredibly well-rounded and information coaching course that met all of my expectations and more.
In addition to the course itself, we had the opportunity to attend various other aspects of the RRCA Convention, which only added to the overall experience. It was an amazing feeling to be surrounded by hundreds of people who are equally passionate about running as I am. I was able to make some new friends, share stories, and generally network. Once the course was over, we were required to take an online exam based on what we learned, which grilled us on facts, figures, and challenged us to put our new knowledge into practice. It has been quite a while since I’ve had to take an actual exam, and it was no joke! The threshold for passing is quite high so there was very little room for error, and I definitely felt a sense of relief and excitement when I submitted my exam and received my passing grade (with plenty of room to spare, thank you very much!). We also had to submit our CPR & First Aid Certification, which meant going through a new Red Cross Course. As a former EMT, I knew what I was doing and more, but I had let my certification lapse, so it felt good to get that taken care of before leaving Ames as well.
What’s next? Well, I’d love to see just how I can put my new coaching skills and certification to good use. I am planning on looking into volunteer coaching opportunities, and will eventually explore starting a small coaching business that will allow me to take on private clients. In the meantime, if you are thinking about seeking out some coaching assistance with your running goals, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d love to work with you to help you achieve your goals and continue #chasing42 !