Monday, July 18, 2011

USATF Coaching Ed and Beyond

What a weekend!  My brain is full of fascinating track and field information.  Man, I love my sport!  I learned so much.  We talked about philosophy, ethics and risk management first, following that up with physiology and biomechanics - all on Friday night.  Saturday was the longest day of my life, but it was still filled with all sorts of interesting stuff.  We learned about psychology and training theory (one of my favorite parts), biomotor training for speed and power events (another favorite part), and then sprints, hurdles and relays.  We spent 14 hours sitting in a classroom to learn all of this.  I felt a bit crazy and unhinged by the end.  Sunday morning, I returned ready to learn about throws and endurance events (another fave).

The class itself was taught by Loren Seagrave, Ian Dube, and Mike Judge.  All of these guys knew their stuff and had amazing stories to tell, with bits of humor thrown in as well.  A few times Loren got so technical he was hard to follow, but it gave me a new appreciation for all that is required in track and field events.  It isn't just about being strong and fast - there is so much more involved!  Skill, focus, drills, training, technique... maybe this is all assumed, but when I watch a 10 second (or less) sprint, it is hard to fathom all that went in to preparing those athletes to move at that speed.

I can't wait to get started.  I'd love to work with a high school track and/or cross country team as a volunteer.  I'd like to shadow what the coach is doing (provided he is not simply a stand-in football coach being forced to coach another sport), see first hand what I have learned and get involved in the coaching.  I'd love to talk with the young athletes themselves, learn what they like and what they don't, and find out what they want to achieve.  Then, if I could, I'd like to help them get there. 

I also learned a lot that I can use right now, things that will help me work with new runners or experienced runners trying new things.  I learned much I can apply to my own running as well, and in the two runs I've had since getting home, I have pondered these things.  Mostly form, but also maximizing my velocity as I move forward and preventing my own form and movement from slowing me down.  That will take a lot of practice, but I think being aware is the first step.

I've wanted to work with runners of all sorts for a long time.  I've been able to do this somewhat with the No Boundaries program, but I'd like to do more than that.  I love helping brand new runners, those who have never run a step in their lives, to find a sport they love.  I enjoy showing them how strong and able they are, that they have the power to change the things they do not like in their lives.  Sure, there is much more to that than running, but if they have sought out the sport, I feel like I have the gift of sharing it in such a way as to make them successful in their pursuits. 

I also like helping experienced runners try something new.  Whether it is a new distance or a faster pace, I feel like my own 15 years in the sport have given me insight and knowledge into how things work, how they don't and how to maneuver around the road blocks runners find along the way.  Should someone come to me, however, I want to be able to provide more evidence of this than "I really like to run and I have done it for a long time."  While I do have credentials such as taking almost 2 hours from a marathon time, cutting time from all other distances, running ultras, relays, and triathlons, and learning about training strategies, nutrition, hydration and safety for all of this...I feel like there needs to be something more.  Classes, study, certifications that show what I have learned, experience in these fields - things like that.

This USATF Level 1 class was a first step.  While I do have knowledge and experience, there is still much more I don't know.  But I intend to learn and get involved with coaching others.  This is what I love.


  1. sounds like a great class. and you're already getting a jump start on training runners internationally. sorry your first overseas client isn't a wealthy businessman with swiss bank accounts from which to pay you.

    thanks for all the training advice. i'll email you back about it soon.

    i think you're a great running coach, and any school would do really well to have you.

  2. I agree, any school/track team would be lucky to have you. I can't wait to hear what all you have learned. I need to discuss "Natural Running" by Danny Abshire next time we are together. Thinking about doing the 8wk training to change my running form and want to see what you think!

  3. Thanks, guys! I'm so glad you think that!!

    I want to hear about this "natural running" thing. That sounds interesting!

  4. Your enthusiasm for your training is awesome, Jane! I think any athlete would be lucky to have someone as motivated (and experienced) as you are to coach them. I can't wait to hear the specifics on how you are applying what you learned towards your own running. Keep us posted on your new pursuits in coaching!

  5. I'm so excited for you. Not only do you have the VAST wealth of experiential knowledge, you now have the credentials to go along with it. WAY TO GO!!