Three things I’ve learned being a coach.

Over the past 6 or 7 years coaching all sorts of runners, from absolute beginners, to front of the pack’ers, to epic endurance freaks, to kids wanting more speed for Football, and every conceivable person in between, there are a few themes that always find their way to the surface.

In this article I’d like to share with you three things that I’ve found to be true with just about every person I’ve ever written a program for.

Running is a funny beast. It has the power to lift us up, to give us purpose, to bring us together and to take us places we didn’t think possible. It also has the ability to leave us feeling weak, anxious, frustrated or empty. It’s this contrast that I’ve found the most interesting and challenging to navigate as a coach and it’s what I’ve found to be the most impactful when I get the balance right for someone. So here are some nuggets that will hopefully help you get the balance right for your running.

  1. You have to make it fit – Training for your running goals, and competing or participating in races for that matter MUST be done in a way that suits YOU. It’s easy to look at others and what they do and then try to replicate that for yourself, but the fact is that no two people are the same and therefore no two running plans should be the same. Your training should be designed to fit into your life. Attempting to alter or modify your life to any great degree to make it work for your running will always lead to disaster (and failure). Yes, you’ll most likely have to give up a little sleep, or leisure time or something else if you want to reach your fitness or running goals, but those sacrifices should only happen if they feel appropriate and sustainable. If you have to force things to be able to do what you love, pretty soon those things you love will start to lose their shine.
  2. Success breeds success – Far too often I see people set enormous goals without also setting the milestone goals along the way. I’m a massive advocate for big, ugly, scary goals but there needs to be a workable plan that will move you toward them. Apart from the practicality of achieving progressively more and more challenging goals, there is also the psychological factor of progression. Every time we achieve something meaningful, no matter how small it may be, there is a mental flag that goes up saying “Yes, you can reach your goals”. That flag gives us permission and confidence to move forward to the next thing. Success breeds success is the best way that I can think to describe this. Create a situation where you get wins, even small wins that you can recognise, so that you get the physical and psychological shove forward that will get you to the big goals.
  3. Why so serious? – Maybe the Joker in the Batman movie had it right… Running is just running. Yes it can very easily become a huge part of your life, it can become a catalyst for many of your friendships, and it can be an all consuming thought occupier, but at the end of the day it pales in comparison to what really matters.
    If you have to take a month off training because you got injured, it’s not the end of the world. If you didn’t get the result you wanted in that race, take the learnings from that and don’t beat yourself up. If your work or your family or your anything is preventing you from doing the sort of running you’d like to be doing, then how about just working on making the running you are doing feel more enjoyable?
    Running is meant to be fun, good for your physical health and a great way to find mental health. Creating unnecessary stress, pressure or anxiousness in your life as a result of this thing that you apparently love so much, just doesn’t make sense.
    So remember that you run because you want to, because it makes you feel good and because it helps you be a better person, and use that to find a way to take it a little less seriously.

As we approach Christmas and the end of 2017, I’d like to wish you all an awesome festive season and an amazing year to come. Remember to keep finding ways to make your running work for you (not the other way around) and to keep smiling!


Run long,
Shaun Brewster.
Brewsters Running

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