No wonder I’m tired, and it’s not just 6-hours of sleep the last few nights when I prefer 8ish. I had one rest day in the last four weeks, and ran consecutively for 20 days, a new streak PR by something like 10 days. I like my rest, and I get cranky when I go too many days running without a break. Yet it seems like my tolerance has gone up with training, because it wasn’t until the last few days that I began to feel the effects of so many consecutive training days. And again, the lack of sleep probably contributed quite a bit.
For my patience I got a bonus of two days off, not because it was strictly necessary but because I planned to attend the 2-day RRCA Coaching Certification Course offered in somewhat nearby Oakhurst, New Jersey. Anyone who has attended one of these courses will understand that the hardest part may be just getting in. New courses are announced by email, so the first step is getting on the email list. Next is finding a course: they are offered irregularly in somewhat random locations, and with only 42 spots per session, they fill up muy rapido. The organization of courses is a bit funky because each course needs a “host,” ie someone local who can provide a venue for the course over the weekend. (Point being, if you really want to attend a course in your area, find some space and ask RRCA to come to your hood, and as a thank you for your efforts your registration will be comped).
The course was held over two full days, starting at 8am and wrapping up some time after 4pm. There were slightly more women in attendance than men, and the average age skewed older, with quite a few of us in our 40s and 50s, it seemed. Many were already involved in coaching within their local communities, some professionally, and to my surprise I was not the only crazy ultrarunner- one guy had completed 20 100-milers, and another woman was an Ironman and seemingly competitive ultrarunner.
We received a thick binder of course materials (primarily the powerpoint slides we’d be looking at for two days) as well as a copy of the latest edition of Daniels’ Running Formula (which I already own, doh!). The focus throughout the weekend was really on the development of training plans for adult runners with varying levels of experience in distances from 5K to the marathon. We also covered topics such as nutrition, injuries, psychology and the business of coaching.
Day one was largely lectures, with a lot of time spent on the concept of periodization in training plans, while day two was more, um, interactive, as we split up into small groups to develop a training plan for a hypothetical client. This was tough, as there can really only be one coach in charge and here we were, five or six of us trying to coach poor “Robin” to a BQ by consensus, with our very different backgrounds and assumptions of what makes an ideal plan.
Overall, it was very different from the USATF coaching certification course I attend in NYC in December 2014. The USATF course is fairly easy to get into, as it was held in the auditorium and cafeteria of a large public school. The students were generally younger, and the curriculum covered all track and field events, so I learned more than I will ever need to know about the physics of the javelin and hammer throw. We spent no time on training plans, and the implied target of our studies appeared to be the high school or college athlete that competes in short-distance running and all those field events. It’s all relative though: USATF defines “middle distance” as 800 meters to a mile, I hear “middle distance” and think marathon to 50K.
I’m glad to have completed both courses for a fuller view of what is involved in coaching, however I don’t plan to hang a shingle as a professional running coach anytime soon. I’m still way too early in my competitive running career and still gaining experience with various kinds of training.
Week in Review: 1/19
Monday: 4-mile tempo
Tuesday: 8 miles long intervals and strength workout
Wednesday: 3 miles easy and 45-minute pool running class
Thursday: 8 miles mixed intervals and strength workout
Friday: 8.5 miles easy to moderate
Saturday: Rest with 3-mile walk
Sunday: Rest with around 30 minutes body-weight strength trainin