Who coaches the coach?
I’m a big advocate of coaching. Of course I am, you say, that’s my job. But, I’ve never actually been coached myself.
It was 2013 when I last followed a training plan. It was one from a book, and although I swapped some sessions around and adjusted paces when they didn’t suit or I just didn’t feel like doing the session in front of me, it was a plan written by someone else.
Since then I’ve been responsible for my own training. I trained as a coach, I’ve read a lot of different coaching theories and I borrow different ideas and sessions like a running magpie. But how I knit it all together into weeks and months of training cycles has been very much my own doing.
It has gone pretty well for me being, as the pros might call it, self-coached. I qualified for Boston (but didn’t go – I had a baby instead), I came back from having that baby and ran a marathon safely and then ran a 10k PB. But now it’s time to hand over to somebody else.
I’ve known I wanted to work with a running coach for a while. I enjoy writing training plan, both for myself and for runners I coach. But the problem for me doesn’t come in the drawing up of the cycles but the backing out of sessions.
Sometimes I spend all day battling with myself between the sessions I know I should do and the sessions I want to do that evening. Usually I do what I know to be right, but the fact that I’m having that battle at all takes up too much brain power some days. It’s like standing in the supermarket day after day deciding what to have to eat when you just want to get home and stop being hungry.
Finding someone you’re happy to hand over responsibility for your goals and your body is a big deal, and it has taken me a while. First off, I was returning from pregnancy and the person best positioned to decide what I should and shouldn’t be doing was me (with a little advice from a physio). But I looked around. I looked at who other runners were working with and I followed their progress. They all seemed to have one thing in common though: they were all men.
It’s entirely personal preference, but I want to work with a female coach. There aren’t as many of us (women coaches) around, so I want to support another one. And I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable discussing the intricacies of my pregnancy and recovery with any man other than my partner or obstetrician.
I met another coach on a training weekend recently and I asked her if she’d help me train for an autumn half marathon. She agreed to, starting after the 10k I ran last weekend, and now I’m looking forward to having someone tell me how far and how fast to run.