It's Just Me, Myself and I
This week I was honoured to be invited to talk to the Wessex Institute for Health Research & Development about Running for Wellness.
I was asked to spend an hour talking to a group of runners about my thoughts on how running and training could/should fit within the wider scope of overall wellness.
Don’t worry, I don’t plan to go through everything in this blog, but I concluded the session with my ‘5 top tips’.
I actually hate talking about myself - odd you might think for somebody who started their own running blog. But it occurred to me that perhaps, inadvertently, in summing up my talk this week I was actually summing-up my coaching philosophy in 5 very short and simple statements.
Whilst an athlete’s plan and training should always be built around them, it is built upon the foundations of the coach’s own philosophy.
So I thought sharing these 5 tips might be a good way to get across my own way of working with runners.
Run coaching isn’t for everybody, but for those looking to take that step it’s important to find a coach that fits for you.
So here goes, maybe I fit, maybe I don’t…
1. Focus on why YOU run, nobody else
There are many great reasons to run and they’re all as valid as each other; to improve your health, clear your mind, explore, escape, make friends, or maybe even compete.
But you have to be honest with yourself about why YOU run and what YOU want to achieve. I’m a big fan of running clubs and apps like Strava, but peer pressure can drive us to keep up appearances with frequency, speed, distance and races that lead us down a path we never wanted to follow in the first place.
I always send time up-front with any new clients to make sure we are both clear on their WHY.
2. Be the best runner YOU can be
This one has two meanings. Yes, you should look to improve your running form to maximise efficiency and minimise injuries. But more than this we all need to accept that we are unique and imperfect in our own amazing ways.
Whilst there is a template of the ideal runner, our goal should not be to emulate this, but identify WHERE we differ, WHY and IF we should adapt before we look at HOW. Just take a look at the likes of Paula Radcliffe and Michael Johnson – not the most orthodox running style but they did okay.
Coaching isn’t about turning you in to Mo Farah, but helping you find the best possible version of yourself.
3. VARIETY is the spice of life
The most common issue I see amongst runners is habit. We end up going out on the same routes for the same distances and the same speeds all the time. And you know what they say, if you keep doing the same things you’ll get the same results.
But more than that, it can become boring, and running is good for the mind as much as it is the body. And this has never been truer than these times of lockdown. So mix things up – work in different intensity zones, run short, run long, run the road, run the trail. Most runners I work with either spend too much time running fast, or too much time running slow - variety really is the spice of life.
Helping you find the tools and techniques to mix up your running and training is a key part of my coaching.
4. Recovery IS training
The second most common issue I come across is an unhealthy approach to recovery - i.e. recovery is just another word for ‘not running’. Instead we need to look at recovery as the period of training where the actual adaptation and improvement occurs.
Building the right recoveries into sessions, between sessions and post-races is the single biggest driver to athlete improvement. Not only do we develop our bodies properly, but prepare ourselves to get more out of our next key sessions.
Sometimes we need protesting from ourselves, and this is where a coach can play a vital role.
5. Work on ONE thing at a time
Whether we’re talking about running form, or training zones it’s important to have one main focus at any one time. We want variety as I’ve already said, but by having a clear and simple aim for any one training period we allow these changes to take hold and reflect on what impact it may have on other aspects of our running before we move on to the next thing.
Long-term this means coach and athlete working together to build a periodised approach to their training plan. And as we are all unique with our very personal running goals, this will always be different.
So there you go, my own coaching philosophy summed up in 5 short tips. I realise my way isn’t the right way for everybody. But if you feel like a running coach might benefit you right now and you like what you hear, then get in touch and I’d love to work with you.
Or if you work somewhere where you think your colleagues would benefit from a talk about how running can benefit your staff’s overall wellness, particularly during lockdown, then drop me a line and I’d be delighted to share my thoughts.