You DO deserve a coach!
by on Wednesday, July 10, 2013  (3 comments)

I recently received an email from one of the runners I coach stating that a medical professional she is seeing laughed at her for having a coach. Needless to say, this didn't go over well with her or me. It's also an attitude I've seen all over the place since I've started "officially" coaching runners. In fact, at least three of the runners I am now coaching originally contacted me with almost apologetic tones, unsure whether I would "bother" with "middle of the pack adult-onset" runners like them.

First, my answer is yes. I absolutely love working with "middle of the pack adult-onset" runners! Second, my response to them and to the naysayers out there is why don't these runners deserve a coach?

Some people seem to be of the mindset that only elites or those running in a school setting should have a coach. They seem to think that, if you aren't running for a team or running for a living, a coach just doesn't make sense. To that, I ask: why?

Why can't someone who is new to running but not in school benefit by learning from someone with years of experience? An "adult-onset" runner hasn't had the benefit of having a coach at the high school or collegiate level. These runners are essentially novices. They can read books and websites, which I would encourage whether or not they have a coach. However, there is a lot a coach can teach them about how to implement the multitude of philosophies and ideas and find the path that best works for them.

Why can't someone who is not an elite have big goals and benefit from a coach in reaching toward those goals? We all can strive to do our best at whatever level we compete. Big goals are good things. Successful people set big goals. Sometimes, especially when we are new to something and aren't experts on it, we need help in achieving our big goals. This is nothing to be ashamed of. We should be proud of setting big goals for ourselves and we should be proud that we can recognize when we need help achieving those goals and of being modest enough to go out and ask for that help but proud enough to not give up on those goals.

Most important, if you don't believe in coaching for non-elites, that's your choice but why do you have to pass judgement on someone else who believes otherwise? Maybe you don't need a coach. Maybe you learned from a coach previously, maybe you think you have all the knowledge and advice you need without a coach. Good for you. If someone else makes a different decision about his or her own personal situation, what difference does it make to you?

Is this post self-serving? Sure, it probably is a little. I'm a coach of primarily "middle of the pack adult-onset" runners. I'll be completely honest and say that the coaching service is my primary income source at and allows me to do other things, like justify the time I use to write the code for this blogging platform and to write these blog posts. However, this is about much more than that. I'm terribly proud of the runners I coach. They work hard, they do what I ask them to do, they listen to my advice, ask questions and have a genuine interest in learning about running. There are many others like the runners I coach who are working with other coaches. These people benefit from coaching probably more than school age kids who don't always listen so well and follow instructions given by authority figures. In my opinion, they should be applauded for their choice.

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I would think lowly of any medical professional that would laugh at a patient for trying to achieve fitness goals with the guidance of a coach. I would suggest switching to a different doctor that is less condescending.

I sometimes worry that my own passion to improve at running is a tad bit silly considering that neither time nor talent is on my side. But I really do believe that a challenging training schedule and the supporting healthy lifestyle can turn turn back the clock for any dedicated adult-onset runner. Just remember to wear sunglasses so that you don't get crow's feet.

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Some people are just that ignorant, they've never needed/wanted to do better. That says a lot about themselves as well. I had a doctor in college ask me, as a routine question, "Do you feel okay physically? Because obviously not mentally, if you decided to join the military..." All I could do was shake my head and told him I was fine, and left to go see a new doctor.
Ignorance definitely does not discriminate on occupation. I'm very grateful to have you as a coach Ryan!! Thank you for everything you're doing!

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Charlene, I agree with you. Unfortunately, not everybody has options to just change doctors given our current medical system. We all probably feel a bit silly at times but I think that feeling comes because we prioritize differently than the average American. We're told we're being silly and wasting our time and energy. We know better, though.

Kristen, it's a shame when we get those doctors. Whatever isn't "normal" is obviously a mental issue. I can somewhat understand that view from the general public but doctors should know better...or so I thought. Sadly, I think you're right. Ignorance cuts across all occupations. Even those in which ignorance can be a significant detriment.

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