Running like any other sport can be performed at various levels of skill, awareness, and presence. For many runners, getting out the door is a major achievement and from there we go on automatic pilot, accompanied and supported in this state perhaps by our favorite playlist. And there’s no doubt that the subsequent workout will bring some benefit, way more than if we’d just stayed on the couch, and for many runners, that’s enough. At the end of it, a nice shower, a bit of after glow and Bob’s your uncle.
So if that’s all you’re looking for carry on and god bless. For those who are looking for a bit more…keep reading!
To improve as a runner once you’ve attained a basic level of fitness is not always easy or obvious. The notion that ‘more is more’ as in run more and you’ll improve carries some truth but is a road riddled with plenty of traps….injury, burn out, loss of fun..
As a coach for the past 40 years, I know that most people can improve often times way more than they realize if they can learn what to do, and just as importantly, what to avoid.
Here’s analogy. To saw a piece of wood, you can put it on the table grab your weapon and start sawing away till you eventually reach the other side of the board. Good enough. But the cut was probably not very straight and if you didn’t have very good technique you probably used way more effort than was actually required. So for the next cut, a friend wisely suggests drawing a line on the board to guide your stroke and shows you how to move the saw more effectively. This time while there was effort involved, it was better distributed and the results were much more satisfactory. With a bit of practice plus some encouragement and feedback you’ll probably get to be pretty good at it. Way better and probably sooner than if you just hacked away.
So bringing a bit of intention to the task can help you reap some major benefits. And this is where a good coach can help you become a better runner. Imparting a bit of ‘know how’ combined with encouragement and feedback can help the runner master important skills but perhaps more importantly, teach the runner how to practice them, where to focus attention and how to keep his ‘eye on the ball’ when fatigue and other obstacles threaten to derail the process.
Three areas where a coach can help you be clearer about what you’re doing and how well you’re doing it. Why use a coach and not just do it yourself? Way cheaper to just check your metrics on your watch. Well for many recreational runners, just getting out the door is a major accomplishment. Trying to cope with anything else gets them into overload pretty quickly. And in our Alexander Technique we know that people may think they’re doing one thing when something quite different is occurring. In other words we run according to what feels right even though the opposite may be true. And finally, coaches can help you make better decisions. You might have several options available but a coach can help you pick what’s right for you at that moment in time. For example, when you’re running, should you focus on speed or distance? Answer: it depends!!
Here are three areas I often work on with runners
1: QUALITY OF MOVEMENT: staying tall, light landing, flow
2: PACE: choosing and maintaining an appropriate pace, running even splits
3: DEALING WITH OBSTACLES: fatigue, negative self talk, loss of focus, mind wandering…
In my next article I will go into more detail on the key role a coach plays on helping runners improve.