This training season, October-January races have been quite exciting for me. I have had the opportunity to prepare runners coming off surgery, first time marathon runners, and those that have not run a marathon in years. You can’t always have your best race and this is probably why so many run race after race chasing their elusive personal best. My runners are no different, but along with those folks, I have had first time Boston Marathon qualifiers, marathon bests up to 21-minutes, and those that met process goals such as not cramping up or hitting the wall. Other programs and coaches can probably and rightfully make the same claims.
A few months ago, a runner messaged me and asked how my program was different than a group training program she belonged to. My first thought was, “We are talking apples and oranges”. Then I had a hard time explaining it…go figure. Running is running, right? But coaching is either there or not there. Who exactly is a coach? A mentor is not the same thing as a coach. An idol is not the same thing as a coach. Someone that has been there, done that is not a coach. He/she is simply someone that has been there, done that and more importantly, had the ability to do it, not necessarily understanding the science; physiology and biomechanics that went into it.
There are two types of athletes. Those that are ego-involved and those that are task-involved. Before I go on, lets define “ego-involved”. It doesn’t mean that they have a big “ego”. An ego-involved athlete is occupied by their adequacy of ability and competence compared to others (Duda & Treasure, 2010). There are a lot of positive aspects to group training, but ego-involvement of some runners preoccupies them from their ability. You only need to compare yourself as a runner to yourself, but if you get wrapped up in what others are doing and try to run out of your ability to keep up, it won’t be long before burnout sets in.
A task-involved athlete is just that, someone that completes tasks as they are given to them. The run training tasks or workouts (I prescribe) help create a mastery climate. I help create an environment in which you can experience improvement through your rate of perceived effort, paces, or in your heart rate, if it is all done within your current ability. Everyone’s ceiling of ability is different, and it doesn’t matter how hard or long you train, ability and goals may not be on the same page. That is just the way the cannon ball bounces.
The coaching software I utilize provides a platform for me to distribute training to my runners and I do it 2-3 weeks at a time. I decide what is best for them and plug it in. If they use a Garmin GPS watch, they link it up, so I can view all the details of their run or there is a place for them to log what they have completed. This allows me to provide feedback and more importantly, a way for me to see if they are completing the tasks and if the tasks are out of their ability or if they are ready to be progressed during the season or over multiple seasons. This all fosters a mastery climate until ability is reached.
That is what a coach does. A coach has the tools; knowledge, ability, and passion to create a mastery climate. This builds confidence in the runner as well as a personal relationship between coach and runner. Super cool stuff and I’m proud to be the creator of the environment in which a task-involved runner can evolve to his/her full potential! Are you viewing this blog post from the Run With Gina Facebook page? When was the last time you visited the runwithgina.com website? The Services page has been updated and explains the other things that make my program different than others. Apples and oranges!
Runner Image: Darryl & Tricia Sol, Joey & Maryanne Jamias, Nellie Klein, and Art Santos
Duda, J.L., & Treasure, D.C. (2010). Motivational processes and the facilitation of quality engagement in sport. In J.M. Williams (Ed.), Applied sport psychology: Personal growth to peak performance (6th ed.) (pp. 59-80). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.