Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Finding My Running Coach

For about as long as I remember, I've wanted to be a coach. I think it goes back to my time in middle school when I had a great baseball and basketball coach named Chuck Schierer, a guy who just by being himself and believing in me made a big impact on my life.

Mr. Schierer was a pretty chill guy who at one time held the record at the University of Illinois for the highest career batting average. I think he liked "projects", which was why I think he took a particular interest in me. I've always been a good athlete but just didn't always have the confidence to go with it.

At the start of one basketball season, I was one of the last guys on the bench. In fact, we had more players than uniforms, so every two games I had to give up my jersey to another boy and watch the game from the stands. But Mr. Schierer noticed that I always hustled and I always played hard given the opportunity, so he molded me into a defensive stopper and by the end of the season I wasn't starting but was playing more minutes than anyone on the team.

Later on, during baseball season, he helped turn me into a pretty good outfielder and our team won a conference championship. What I got from my time with him was that you give everyone a chance, especially the kids that want to work hard.

Though I didn't become a high school basketball coach like I had hoped back in the day, I've coached baseball, basketball and track over the last several years, and have enjoyed every minute. Like Coach Schierer, I like taking kids who have some rough edges and helping them find their potential.

As my running career has progressed, I've thought of becoming a running coach. I enjoy reading about that aspect of the sport, and would love to help people who have goals to meet them. I'm in the middle of the long process of getting certified -- by the way, holy crap that stuff is expensive! -- and hope to focus on middle distance running (like the 800 and mile) for younger kids, and half-marathon/marathon training in adults.

I feel confident that I could be a good coach thanks to my own personal experiences, as well as the reading, research and discussions I've had with high level runners. I believe in certain theories and tenants that have worked for others, but in the end I would coach people the way they need to be coached, using a more free-flowing training program that adapts to their strengths while improving their weaknesses.

I'm really a believer in adjusting on the fly and not handing someone a complete schedule from beginning to end, instead chopping the training cycle time into blocks and adjusting from there. One way doesn't work for everyone. For example, in the past I've coached basketball teams that for some reason or another just couldn't score. While I would prefer the game played at a quick pace with lots of scoring opportunities, my team couldn't work that way. We focused on defense and while we didn't win a lot of games, we were competitive and gave ourselves a chance to win. Running is no different.

So just the other day, I decided to take on my first client.


I decided that I am going to coach myself for the St. Jude Marathon in December. I am going to write my own program while making adjustments along the way. Because my trip to Italy in October will make long runs on two weekends hard, I'm going with a 20-week program broken down into four different five-week segments. I have a general outline as to how I want to work the whole program, but after each block I'll make adjustments to the next block as I see fit.

With the first week of training starting on 7/20, I'll share my thoughts and ideas as time rolls closer. If at any time you like what you are reading and would like to join in on the project, I'd be more than happy to have you! It would truly be a leap of faith, I know, but if someone wants to join me in the lab for this, I'd welcome you! I truly think I can make people better runners while enjoying their running more than ever.

I'm excited, and will definitely be blogging a lot about this experience. I hope you join me!

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