Coaching Your Friends

Nobody needs a running coach, right? Running requires a pair of shoes, a t-shirt, a pair of shorts, and the desire to push yourself to your best. Being the cheapest sport around, running has become increasingly popular over the past 15 years, so much so that marathon entries now require lottery spots. People are now racing to their computers to sign up quickly for races that are harder to get into than running the race itself. With this growth, we now have fancy running watches, compression socks, visors, mirrored sunglasses, wicking clothing, and all sorts of gadgets that have also made the “cheap” sport not so “cheap”. But what do we do with all this? Information about running and nutrition is coming at us from all sides in every direction you can think of from social media to magazines. What is true? What is a gimmick? What do we need to run our best race? Do we need a coach? As a coach, I would love to say yes, everyone needs me, but that is not true.

For years elite athletes have had coaches, but is it necessary for the recreational runner from the local running group? Should those of us who just want to improve a little spend the extra money? Do “regular people“ hire coaches? I have many different runners with many different goals come to me. It is a crazy fun job filled with so many different personalities to manage. There are days I feel as if I’m sitting in a local coffee shop, stuck in an episode of the sitcom “Friends” and laughing at stories from the run that just occurred. Each story is told from a little different perspective. So in understanding the recreational runner, and their need for coaching, one must understand the personalities of those being coached and the benefits that each person can get from having another person monitor their running.

You’ve seen Friends right? I mean, who hasn’t? Do you remember Monica, Rachel, Phoebe? Ross, Chandler, and Joey? I certainly do, it was one of my all-time favorite shows growing up. It could quite possibly be the reason I have enjoyed my coaching career so much. Every day is like a new episode for me. I currently coach many of each personality type which keeps life interesting and always provides me with a challenge. Here are my clients and how they all benefit from coaching. Keep in mind these personalities are not gender-specific.

The Monica: The Monicas make up the majority of my clients. Monicas are driven people. Type A personalities that strive to be the best that they can be every single day. These people tend to be what I call very “coachable” as they often do exactly what I say every single run. Driven people, they have had to work at being a good runner. They hate rest days. They get very frustrated when goals are not met. They can be impatient, but not always. They completely go crazy if they do not nail every run perfectly. These clients can be very quiet in training and follow a schedule to a fault.

Reasons a Monica will benefit from coaching: One would think a Monica could just follow an online schedule and be fine right? They often do at first and get faster and stronger initially, but plateau. This is when I usually get them. They are very self-motivated so don’t need a coach to say, “great job” all the time, in fact, this might actually annoy them. Biggest benefit for a Monica is injury prevention and a coach to tell them when to back off. They need help learning to recover.

The Rachel: Rachels are usually naturally talented runners. Often times running came easily and naturally to them. Rachels, however, are very difficult to train. They tend to be a group of runners that struggle with following instructions and like to do things their own way. They like a moderately difficult pace but hate running slowly, or running harder than their comfort zone. Similar to a Joey (as you will see below), Rachels prefer self-coaching.

Reasons a Rachel will benefit from coaching: Rachel’s have a hidden speed that only coaches can pull out of them. The challenge as a coach is to convince her she hasn’t already found it all herself. I need to help Rachels break bad habits. They are very reluctant to do this as they have seen results doing things their way. If I can motivate a Rachel in a way to get them to listen, they see results quickly, and then they consequently turn into Monicas for life. This challenge is what makes my job so fun!

The Phoebe: Phoebes are a fun group of runners, usually beginners, but not always. They are dreamers, often inspired by a friend or family member who is a daily runner. Phoebes are initially very excited about their newfound running hobby and want lots of miles very quickly.

Why do Phoebes need a coach? This group of runners bites off more than they can chew. They skip the 5k and go straight to the marathon ending up injured or burned out. Phoebes benefit tremendously from coaches. I need to hold them back and continually keep them motivated with smaller goals that are achievable quickly and without injury risk. As a coach my goal with this group is helping them learn to LOVE the sport of running for life, to keep that initial beginner runner fire going so they do not burn themselves out and never want to run again.

The Ross: Ross runners are my extremely intelligent runners. They are highly educated – doctors, lawyers, or financial people or people who like numbers.

Benefits to coaching for a Ross: Because this group is very intelligent, they often overthink or over analyze everything from nutrition to sleep to miles to weather. They are very coachable if directed in the right way, but are extremely hard on themselves if things do not go as planned. I am continuously reminding them of the need to listen to their bodies and leave technology behind. They are data and technology monsters and often need to be told to leave it at home and just go run. My goal with this group is to keep running fun as they can often time end up making it as stressful as their work-life and losing their love of the hobby.

The Chandler: A quiet observer, this client is slow to warm up, someone who works alone or with computers all day. This person has a tendency to be sarcastic and difficult to read. This runner can be a beginner or a veteran.

Coaching Benefits for a Chandler: Chandlers are great schedule followers. This makes them very coachable. The challenge with this group is communication. They tend to be quiet, passive people, who don’t like to rock the boat. They will run through injuries so they benefit from a coach that continually will ask them how they are feeling. If I can get them to open up, which is truly a tough job, they do really well, however, if I fail, they get lost in the shuffle quickly and move on.

The Joey: Joeys tend to be extremely talented runners with excellent running form. Joeys tend to be very fast runners, or extremely cocky. They by far are my most difficult client. Joeys can be almost un-coachable. They sign up for a coach because they view it as “cool”.

Benefits of coaching for a Joey: Joeys are almost always injured because they leave it all at every run because they tend to be extremely competitive. If channeled properly they can be race winners but doing this is extremely difficult. They run too hard in workouts, and because they are talented, they see results less quickly than a beginner and become discouraged. Joeys have great potential but need a strong coach who is not afraid to call them out and hold them accountable and not afraid of confrontation.

Are you thinking of hiring a coach? Do you see yourself in any of these characters? If you do want a coach, take the time to look at the benefits you could get. Coaching is not just for elite athletes anymore.

On Track

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