On Coaching Runners
Runners are a curious breed. Many are headstrong, independent, lights out intelligent, and inquisitive. Coaching competitive runners is a demanding job, as you get a lot of questions. I field many inquiries daily from the runners I coach on the reasoning behind exercises I prescribe. Some could interpret such constant examination as a challenge to their authority. I don't. I welcome it. I answer each one as thoroughly as possible. It is important to me that athletes are aware and understand the "why" behind how we choose to prepare.
Their curiosity holds me to account. It makes me a better coach. I have to be on top of my game every day and ready to communicate why I am asking them to do whatever it is I've designed. I embrace the responsibility. Hopefully, you do too.
I think a coach must be able to clearly articulate the reasoning behind each training activity and how it fits into the bigger picture. Being able to do so makes your own thinking better, gives your athlete confidence and strengthens their trust in you. And that is the key currency to a successful athlete-coach relationship: trust.
Trust begets more trust. If your athlete trusts you, they'll better trust the design of their training program, and hopefully, trust themselves enough to take risks and race without worry come race day. The whole system is built on trust. Without it, races are lost, careers are forfeited, and dreams of athletic glory never realized.
So remember, the next time your insanely bright, determined, autonomous, and curious distance runner asks you, "why are we doing this?" in practice. Give them the answer that will strengthen their trust in you, their process, and ultimately in themselves so they can deliver on race day. Then everyone wins.
PS — If you are interested in getting better, making a difference, and a positive impact in the lives of the athletes you coach, I hope you'll consider the inaugural HPW On Coaching (Mini) Workout in early January. You can attend in person on location in Seattle, Wa or participate online from anywhere in the world. Space is limited. The experience and knowledge on offer is worth it — trust me.
Thanks for reading. I'm glad you're here. // jm