I started this official coaching journey back in January of 2016. I began working with my dear friend Judy, who graciously allowed me to use her as a guinea pig. Fortunately, it went great and I didn’t break her. It helps that she’s supremely coachable and a great runner. So yeah, maybe that’s a little bit of cheating, but she did really help me hone my coaching skills to start. This was great, but I knew in order to further grow a coaching business and continue to gain knowledge, I would need some actual certifications.
Below, I’ll list my certifications in the order I received them and my thoughts on each one. Keep in mind, I spaced all of these out due to pricing and how/when they were scheduled.
USA Track and Field Level I Coaching I started with USATF for a few reasons, the first was that it was not super expensive ($240) and didn’t require I take any time off of work. I also wanted to get something sooner rather than later in the running specific area. While RRCA was top of my list for certifications there wasn’t one being offered at this time.
This two day course takes place on a Saturday and Sunday, which was perfect while I was working full time. It was very straight forward and the material was easily digested. The instructors had tons of years of experience and I enjoyed this course. The material on physiology was a great place to start as a new coach. The only downside here was the length of time spent on field events as I will never teach someone how to throw a javelin, discus, or shot put. (And lord help them if I do!) This is not to blame that on the course AT ALL, it’s a track and field course, but I do think if you are interested in just running, especially endurance running, maybe skip this one. The test wasn’t too tough and was all multiple choice, open book, online.
US Masters Swimming Level I and II Coaching As I continued on my learning journey I opted for this course next. It’s only one day – BONUS and it was also fairly affordable. I think this course is geared toward folks who already have a lot of swimming in their background. I wouldn’t take this if you are just starting out in the sport as I think there is a learning curve to this point. I didn’t find this course too difficult and while I did enjoy it, I don’t remember learning a whole lot from it. Not to say that I know everything about swimming, because obviously I don’t, but I feel as though I’ve learned a lot more just being mentored by the head coach at my pool and Coach Nick from Tribal Multisport. The test was also multiple choice and I think open book, but you took it right at the class and got your certificate the same day. This was the least costly ($180) and least time consuming of my certifications.
Road Runners Clubs of America Level I Coaching Working my way up the chain, in terms of cost and hours, the RRCA course is two full (I mean FULL) days at $325. I really enjoyed this course and appreciated that the one in my city was attended by lots of familiar faces. This course is really geared toward 5Ks and over and I think it’s very beneficial for running coaches. It was nice to see that some of the old school ideas I had learned when I started running (Never run the day before your long run! Ha!) have changed and are much more up to date than I had feared going in. There was an online multiple choice test that was a little bit tricky, but it was open book and I felt very prepared for it based on the course structure. The instructor was humorous and kept us interested. The group project was a nice way to break up the monotony of listening to an instructor all day.
USA Triathlon Level I Coaching This was my last certification course so it’s a bit fresher in my mind. This course was also a very FULL two days. At about $600 (which includes a background screening fee) and a pretty in depth application process (they require a resume) this was the most costly and time consuming of the certifications.
I’m glad I saved this course for last. I felt more prepared to sit and learn, and while I do think it’s a solid course, I didn’t feel quite as prepared for the test as I was in the previous courses. Maybe because I’m a newer triathlon coach, or maybe because the course isn’t really designed to help you pass the test. The test is online and open book, only we didn’t ever look at the book in the class. This was odd to me, but there is something to be said about not being spoon-fed answers ahead of time. The test has a multiple choice section, a short answer section, and a build custom training plans for a made up athlete section. The training plan build portion was tougher than I expected. All in all, I think this course is beneficial for new coaches and I’m glad I got the certification.
And there you have it. Will I keep all of them active? Probably not. But I love learning more about this sport and know there’s a lot more I still need to learn. These courses were a great reminder that some of our hard and fast rules can change and to be open minded about what’s out there. They were also a great reminder that I never want to go back to school full time, I’ll take my learning in two days at time thank-you-very-much. Ha!
Feel free to ask questions in the comments about any of them. Thanks for reading!
I think I forgot to do this last month? This poor blog has been uber neglected, but as I mentioned before, I’m not getting rid of it! March went by so quickly and I really enjoyed my month (after the marathon) of being “off plan.” I probably enjoyed it a little too much as the week is going to hurt. #ThanksCoachJon
But here’s what I did in March, don’t be alarmed.
Run 51 miles (Sadly, this includes a marathon. Keep it moving, nothing to see here…)
Bike 46 miles (At least the bike isn’t dusty anymore.)
Swim 7 miles
Strength & Conditioning 0
Races Myrtle Beach Marathon. And if you count racing from the kitchen to the TV to watch more Golden Girls then there’s another one.
Current Reads I put down BOTH The Nest and Live By Night. They both stunk. I’m not into family money drama (see the former) and the writing on the latter was super cliche. I HATE quitting books but these two just did nothing for me. I did however read and finish the book Geek Love. It was so weird and I couldn’t put it down. Did you know the work “geek” used to mean “freak” as in “freak show” from carnivals? This book is all about carnies and I loved it. I’m reading A Man Called Ove and so far, I’m in love with it.
Current Obsession Salads. I’m not kidding. I ate pretty terribly while on my travels last month (can you say New Orleans) and I really just want some fruits and salads. Weird.
Current Song Maybe I should just change this to Podcast? S-Town the new one by the creators of Serial is astounding. And so, so, so different from what I thought it would be. No worries, no spoilers here.
Current Need All the aloe. Someone got a sunburn at the beach today. Oops.
Current Triumph I placed 3rd overall at a 5K this morning! What a fun day! It was a super small race and I’m really happy with how I ran. I knew I was in third and really didn’t want to lose that rare opportunity so I hung on until the end.
Current Bain of My Existence Sunburn. Ow.
Current Goal I just want to get back on track with triathlon training. I’ve got St. Anthony’s Sprint at the end of the month.
Current Indulgence Acai bowls. De-lish.
Current Blessings The sun, books with delightful characters, and athletes who are rocking the hell out of their events!
Current Excitement I’m excited about some upcoming coaching plans and I can’t wait to share that news and I am planning a post to talk about what I thought about all of those certification courses I took.
I did it! I ran marathon number nine and have the hobble to prove it!
In my last post I was letting you all that I didn’t have a great training cycle. Which, while it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t exactly chopped liver either. I had five solid weeks and one 20 miler. I would have liked more than that, but I went into this race knowing it wouldn’t be a PR and that really took off a lot of pressure. I had an A+ goal of sub 4, but told myself that anything under 4:15 would be fantastic. I definitely didn’t want a repeat of 2016’s disastrous New Orleans Marathon, which had me walking by mile eight. Oof.
My training buddy Rose and I got in to Myrtle Beach on Friday afternoon and headed straight to the expo. The race was the very next day. We were all about a no muss no fuss marathon trip. Since Rose had to get back home quickly to see patients, and I didn’t really need a Myrtle Beach vacation without the S.O. we booked flights to leave and head straight back to Florida after the marathon.
I know that sounds crazy, but it was honestly really nice. All we wanted to do was focus on the run and get back home. The S.O. had to work and since I live in a beach town, I wasn’t dying to explore Myrtle Beach. No offense, as it seems lovely.
I had mall pizza for lunch. Which is important to note as I experienced some GI issues on race day. Was is the pizza or the shrimp with marinara pasta I had for dinner? Who knows. But once I started going #2 on race morning, I didn’t stop. I know you all love this bathroom TMI. I took an Immodium around 6 AM and hoped that would help. The race started right at 6:30 AM.
Rose and I had been checking the weather and the temps on race morning were in the high 30’s. Score! The wind on the other hand was not as agreeable with gusts in the teens. Rose’s husband Pete told us the wind would be rough from miles eight to 18. Pete has the wind direction stuff down to a science.
We got started running and I felt I was running too fast with a mile one of 8:41. I wanted to keep it closer to sub 9, say 8:58. I slowed a little and Rose and I discussed our pacing. I need to note that I couldn’t feel my feet and that was dumb. But, I am SOOOO thankful to have finally gotten a cold and non-rainy marathon. It’s been a minute.
At about mile two I noticed a friend from Florida, Jill, right next to me. She introduced her boyfriend and the four of us chatted. Jill and I fell in step and Rose and Jill’s boyfriend fell in step. I knew Rose would be stronger and wanted her to have a solid marathon so as she and Jill’s boyfriend pulled away, I stayed a bit slower and steadied my pace. Rose has been training for an ultra and has been logging lots of miles. Jill, who is also a very strong runner, just wanted to run with company. Jill said she’d stick with me no matter what I wanted to do. I said great and on we went.
Running with Jill is like running with an entertainer. She is full of energy and the miles went by super quickly. Sure to Pete’s calculations mile eight greeted us with wind and it got stronger as we ran. I noted at mile 11 or so that my legs didn’t feel great. I was having a weird pain in my left hamstring and an even weirder one in my groin. When we hit mile 12 there was a BIG gust of wind that was quite unpleasant. And the road had a pitch that I didn’t really enjoy. Jill continued to make me laugh and on we went.
Jill and I at mile eight.
By mile 13 I had to fart. And considering my issues that morning, I knew not to trust that fart. So when we hit a porta potty at mile 15 I dashed into it and was shocked that I had to go. AGAIN. This stuff happens to me on training runs but not normally during races. It was super annoying.
My legs didn’t feel great and I told Jill that. She said we could walk if I needed to but I knew that if that happened I was done. I figured it was just one of those points during a race that I’d work through and be fine again soon. On we went. We were counting off the miles until 18 to get out of the wind. And sure as shit, we hit mile 18 and turned and the wind was gone. It. Was. Awesome.
We got to see Rose at an out and back section near miles 18 and 19 and she was about a half mile in front of us. I unfortunately had to go again and tried to wait as long as I could. Jill and I had been counting the relay runners we passed as if we were running a Ragnar and it became a little game. Granted we were passed by relay runners too but it was something fun to do as we went along.
We got to a section of the course that’s on a closed shady trail. It was really pretty and honestly, aside from that darn wind, we couldn’t have asked for better weather. The miles 18 to the finish were perfectly cool and dry. We saw a random porta potty at 22 that was on the trail with no line. I was again incredulous that my body still wanted to stop and go. Gr.
From miles 22 to 24 I slowed some. We walked for a few steps through an aid station but that was it. We kept running and tried to help those who looked to be struggling. Jill would say hello and encourage them to join us. She’d ask their name and try to get them to stay with us. It was about mile 23 that I really felt the full force of those previous miles. I told Jill I was struggling and unlike the strangers she was helping, she told me to suck it up. Ha! It was all in fun and we kept going.
I never hit a wall during this marathon and I never went to a dark place. Sure the bathroom issues were frustrating and there were points when I thought about how stupid it was to run 26.2 miles, but I easily shook those off. I may not have pushed as hard as I could but I really wanted to run strong from start to finish without ending up like the walking dead the last few miles. As the saying goes, the half marathon of the marathon really doesn’t start until mile 20. I knew I’d get to 20 without problems, I just didn’t want those last six point two to completely suck.
Jill and I saw the finish line chute and picked up the pace a hair. We ran into the finish line and I saw a 4:06 on my Garmin. I was super happy with that time and finished smiling and proud of myself. I had so much fun at this race and while I regret not going into it in better shape, I think I worked with the course and my training to execute a great marathon.
Rose and Jill’s boyfriend had finished in front of us and were there to greet us with smiles and hugs. The four of us met up later at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville to enjoy some boat drinks and cheeseburger’s in paradise.
Marathon #9 is in the books! Happy Sunday everyone!
In the spirit of
transparency oversharing, I’d like to tell you all what I’ve been up to while training for Myrtle Beach Marathon. I was in a “should-I-race-this mode?” as I feel that my training has been spotty, to say the least. And it’s 100% no one else’s fault but my own. I was doing that thing where I kept thinking, “March is soooo far away.” And then WHAM. It wasn’t. (Athletes I coach, look away.)
Basically I have had some great weeks and some real shit weeks. I have had THREE colds since November. I have no idea why. Well, sorta no idea why. I guess I could say work stress from a new schedule and possibly having too much on my plate.
My highest week thus far has been 55 miles, but that was only one week. I’ve run a few 16 milers and a 20 miler. (There was an 18 miler planned that turned into 16 because I didn’t start running until 8:30 AM and it got super warm out so I bagged it.) Granted, the pacing of my long runs has gotten much better. But…knowing what I know about training for a marathon, dis no good. No good at all.
At this point, I’ve made my bed and I’ve got two weeks to lie in it. What I have going for me is an awesome training partner who’s really got my back and, and quite frankly, has more confidence in me than I do in myself. Plus, I’ve got experience and hard headedness. If the marathon were only 20 miles (Heh, “only”) I’d be good to go. I can rock a 20 miler, it’s the last six that I’m worried about. (Isn’t it always though?)
This is a lesson I apparently had to re-learn. And yes, Universe, I won’t soon forget it.
It’s my second favorite month of the year! (October is first, duh.) I get to celebrate my birthday! I’m a huge fan of birthdays. Even now as I’m getting older, I think birthdays are the best. I’m wiser and yet still super hot. Totally joking. Anyway, here’s how my January measured up!
Run 201 miles
Bike 0 miles
Swim 0 miles
Strength & Conditioning 0
Races Croom Zoom 25K and Best Damn Race Jacksonville half marathon – I didn’t race either of these per se but I did use them as strength runs for my marathon training.
Current Reads I started The Nest but haven’t gotten far with it. It’s just not hitting me in the read-feels. I also started Live By Night and it’s also sort of meh. I need some good recommendations please.
Current Obsession Vitamin Water XXX – this shit is delicious. Try it. Trust me.
Current Song Nothing is really getting me right now. But I have been listening to the podcast Suspect Convictions and it’s interesting, but also very sad.
Current Need One more solid several weeks of training before the Myrtle Beach Marathon.
Current Triumph Fairly solid 20 mile long run with my friend Rose. It was a good confidence boost, even if it was a tough going due to dumb cramps.
Current Bain of My Existence Hacking cough! I don’t know where this came from but all of the sudden I sound like a three pack a day smoker. I’m failing at staying healthy this cold/flu season. This is the third cold I’ve gotten thus far. I swear I’ve been sleeping a lot, drinking lots of water (not just the XXX), and just generally eating healthier. I am wondering if I’ve had extra stress lately?
Current Goal A healthy, fun marathon next month.
Current Indulgence Pre-long run bagel. It’s been hitting the spot.
Current Blessings Having a great friend who is a doctor and an awesome boyfriend who doesn’t mind being a nurse.
Current Excitement I’m excited about the Myrtle Beach Marathon but I’m also excited about swimming and cycling again!