Qualifying as a coach in running fitness

MY coaching journey began back in February 2015. It started as an idea. Why not train as a coach in running fitness?

I’d qualified as a run leader the summer before, and had always thought that – eventually – I would like to train as a coach. For some reason in February last year, that idea had jumped to the front of my mind and wouldn’t go away. I tried to talk myself out of it. It wasn’t a good time. I was doing a Master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree. I’d got running and home and work commitments. Did I really need something else?

I went onto the England Athletics website and did a quick search for courses. There was no harm in browsing. I had no intention of signing up. I just wanted to look at options for the future. But then I found it. A course starting in March 2015 at Hillsborough College. It was close to home. It sounded fantastic.

Before I could think about what I was doing, I’d signed up.

The course involved spending an intense three days with the tutors from England Athletics, covering just about all aspects of running. We looked at technique, endurance, nutrition, agility, balance, coordination, drills, planning cycles of training, evaluating and much more.

I really enjoyed the training days. The tutors, and other students, were really helpful and encouraging. It was a lovely group. We also supported each other through social media. Emma from England Athletics did a great job of keeping everyone motivated.

As well as the practical workshops, there was a lot of independent study where you have the time to develop your coaching knowledge and put your skills into practice. This is the fun part.

Runners from my club, Kingstone Runners in Barnsley, were more than happy to attend coached sessions. In fact, I was amazed at how popular the sessions were. We had runners of all ages and abilities keen to improve. They tackled hills and speed sessions, and were not afraid to work hard. The great thing was that they also noticed results. Personal Bests were being set week in, week out.

As part of the coaching workbook we had to focus on a group of athletes and an individual, setting technical and fitness goals. We had to put training plans in place and then evaluate them. I really enjoyed completing the workbooks. I do have to admit that I love reading and I love looking at the science behind the sport.

The only thing I didn’t like was Pebble Pad, the technology being used to complete the workbooks. I don’t hate many things, but I really, really, really (you get the idea) disliked Pebble Pad. On a positive,  Pebble Pad is no longer the platform of choice, which is fantastic. It will make the process of becoming a coach so much easier and enjoyable.

There was an online knowledge test, a practical exam and three workbooks to complete. Out of all the assessments, it was the practical exam that I was most nervous about. The coaching part is what everyone is most familiar with, but it’s also the part that everyone was worried about the most. As soon as we started coaching, the nerves disappeared.

When I found out I’d passed all three parts of the course, I cheered! After I’d finished cheering, I decided to celebrate, and that meant eating cake. Not a very coach-like thing to do, but very much deserved, I think.

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