Many people want to start running but have no idea how exactly to get going. They may find some nice shoes and some comfortable workout clothes. They have thoughts of shedding some pounds and developing some finely-toned muscles. They even have thoughts of running a local 5k, if they can find one. But when it comes time to hit the pavement, there’s either no real plan to achieve any of these goals or there are too many plans due to information overload from too many internet searches on running. It’s not the person’s fault though. He or she just doesn’t know how to get started in a way that will lead to a gradual and consistent buildup of a running routine.
How can hiring a coach help? For a new runner, a coach is a filter of information. Spending hours on the internet researching training methods, running tips, etc. can be overwhelming for a beginner. It can also be confusing as one is bound to come across conflicting and contradictory information. How would he or she know which is right? A coach can be the guide to get a person started in a way that will lead them to accomplish whatever specific goal he or she has. The coach is the expert. He or she has lots of experience in the running world. Chances are that coach is a big internet search on “running plans.” Why go at something new alone when you can have an expert help you step-by-step.
What will a coach do? A coach will listen and talk to you. He or she will try to understand why you want to run and what your goals are. The coach will then put together a comprehensive plan customized specifically to you so you can do that. He or she will teach you drills, help you with your form and make other recommendations to improve your running. The coach will motivate you and also keep you accountable. Do you want to tell your coach you were too tired or busy to fit in that 3-mile run yesterday? The coach wants you to succeed and is willing to do what it takes to make that happen.
Are coaches mean? Almost never. Screaming and yelling from coaches may be part of football and some other sports but it’s not really part of the running culture. Besides, you’re a client. Most coaches know screaming and yelling at people who are paying them won’t lead to long-time relationships or referrals. The goal is to keep and expand business not end it. You’ll get encouragement and positive energy.
The picture above is of Bob Larsen and Meb Keflezighi. I met Coach Larsen while I was covering cross country and track and field for the Daily Bruin at UCLA in 1997 and 1998. I would meet in Larsen’s office once a week as he would update me on his team’s happenings. He was always gracious and humble. He’s truly a great man. He retired from UCLA to coach Meb as Meb began his post-UCLA running career. What a career it’s been for the Boston Marathon champion. Check out this link as listing his accomplishments would take too much time 🙂 I met Meb at UCLA and spoke to him many times. He’s not only but favorite Bruin of all-time but one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
Larsen is one of the sport’s greatest coaches. He’s a big reason for the resurgence in American distance running in the past decade. He was known for being in-tune with his athletes. They would talk about him and his calm demeanor. I highly recommend checking out some these clips here. If you ever have a chance to watch the full documentary about Coach Larsen I highly recommend it. He’s the perfect example of what a coach can do.