So it’s nearly been six months since I passed my England athletics coaching badge and I must say I’m really enjoying it, everyday is a school day and all that.
So I do my coaching on a Wednesday night at the running club. As a club we run Couch to 5k courses, which do exactly what they say on the tin. We build up new runner’s endurance week by week to get them to complete a parkrun 10 weeks later. We give the runners bits of technique advice as they go round the track but the C25k is mainly encouraging the runners to build their endurance.
After a few C25k courses we had created all these new 5k runners which we were trying to convince to join the running club but there was still a gap between the 5k that our new runners were running and the hour that our current club would go out running for.
So we created an improvers group, another session which would start straight after the C25k session. The idea this session is that it’s more structured with a warm up, drills, a main speed session and cool down. It was more a challenge for the new 5k runners but it didn’t have the fear of going out and having to hit the roads for an hour with our experienced club runners. The improvers group works, it bridges the gap and the new 5k runners are improving. The runners are regularly setting new parkrun pbs on a Saturday. And the runners that build their endurance with long slow runs away from the club are setting new targets, running 10k’s and half marathons.
It’s a great success story for the club. The ‘improvers group’ was just a bridging the gap originally, but as I’ve learnt more as coach it’s become something else.
Most runners say ‘Swimming that really hard and most people struggle to do more than a few lengths, but if you can get your technique correct it’s a lot easier and you can go for hours’ Why should running be that different? You can put the miles in on long runs, do speed sessions running 5 quick laps of track or do a session involving 10 hill sprints, you will improve but are you running efficiently? On a Wednesday night we try to take the swimming approach to running. We get your technique right first, then we’ll get your heart rate up with speed sessions and improve your fitness on the track.
At ‘Improvers’ we are coaching new mainly runners. Teaching them running technique for the first time. They have never been told the correct way to run, where they heads should be and how they arms n legs should move. As the improvers has grown, we’ve had a few experienced runners join the group. Which is fantastic because running with stronger runners makes you a stronger runner. But what you realise as a coach is both sets of runners have issues with their form. Believe it or not the new 5k runners are easier to fix, they have less bad habits.
Fixing form can be a long process and you can’t everything at once. It can be fixed, so start fixing it now become a more efficient runner.