For over a year I have been trying to find a Road Runners Club of America coaching course. As a trainer and athletic/skating coach I wanted the opportunity to learn even more about teaching the sport of running and to officially be certified as a distance running coach.
As luck would have it, I was able to get into the Ann Arbor course a few weeks ago. I had an amazing time at the clinic. I learned so much valuable information from the lead coach Randy Acetta and all of the training material. The most incredible part of the weekend was that Olympic marathon gold medalist and the man credited for the running boom in America, Frank Shorter, was sitting next to me the whole time. Mr. Shorter was taking the class along with the rest of us students to become a certified coach as well. This speaks mountains to see that even an Olympic champion realizes there is always more for coaches to learn. To be able to sit in on the course and hear Frank Shorter relate a lot of the topics to his training and races was invaluable.
The RRCA packs a ton of information into the two day training session (but plan on spending 18 hours during those two days in class). The first day focused heavily on the history of running and coaching the sport, types of running you can use in your training, along with nutrition and form. The second day finishes up with a large portion focused on learning to create training programs for different athletes of all levels and racing styles.
I came away from this clinic with a lot of information. Some of it I was familiar with but a lot of it was insightful or brought new ideas for helping train individual athletes to meet their needs.
Below are a few key points that I took away from the weekend:
•We runners tend to get stuck in a rut, we need variety in our training and it is important to switch it up with short runs, long runs, slow runs, speed work, hill work, you name it. Point being, there is no need to get bored. There are plenty of workouts to make running fun. And runs are runs, a long run and a short run are all relative. I remember first running and doing a 30 minute run and thinking I was the running queen. Running is hard, whether you have done it for years or just have started. But if you just started, it does get more fun, I promise!
•Slow down! One of the best training techniques you can do for yourself is to slow it down and take your time. It isn’t always a race and when you are training for a race your body needs some slow conversation paced runs. The slower you run and the longer the times you spend on the road running slow, the more your lungs and muscles love you!
•Life and running are about making do. If your schedule doesn’t permit it or your body isn’t handling it, something has to give and you need to find a new prescription to your training to make things work.
•No two runners are the same. We can’t use cookie cutter programs when training athletes. Every athlete has individual needs and we need to find a way to work within each athletes parameters. You don’t like to run long? You get tired after a few minutes? That is ok, there is a way to tailor a run to suit you.
•Put good stuff in your body, rest, and listen to your body.
•Find a way to be a cooperative coach. Sitting back and not doing anything or constantly yelling at your athletes isn’t the way to effective coaching. Listen and TEACH!
If you are interested in coaching or to just learn more about the sport and yourself as an athlete I highly recommend this class. You can find more information on coaching certification clinics at www.rrca.org. Keep in mind that these courses fill up incredibly fast. Be prepared to check their site often and if a course opens near you, don’t hesitate to sign up.