Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Full Circle: Becoming a Running Coach

I first fell in love with running over 6 years ago.  It took me a really long time to even like it, but after 6 weeks of the Couch 2 5K program and subsequently running my first 5K, I was hooked.

I finally felt like I found my place in the world, as odd as that may sound.  When I was running I could escape the stresses of motherhood and quickly slipped into a crowd of people who I really connected with.  A conversation from that period has come back to make me smile this week. 

We were sitting around the breakfast table one morning, when a friend who had been spending the weekend with us started talking careers.  My middle daughter had recently started kindergarten and I felt it was time for me to take on a career.  But I wasn't exactly sure where I should focus my efforts.  I really didn't want to become a teacher or a nurse, which is what all of my college credits were in.  After 8 years of straight-up-stay-at-home-mommyhood, I wasn't really sure where I should go.  The fact that I was a raving running lunatic must have been obvious to friends. 

"Why don't you get paid to run, " he suggested.

"How the heck can anyone get paid TO RUN?" was my reply.  As in, duh.  People don't actually get paid to run.

He went on, "It's obviously your passion.  You love it.  You climbed mountains to get to where you are.  You really should find a way to share that joy with others.  You'll do great at it."

At that time, I thought he was completely ridiculous.  I was no where near a professional runner.  I wasn't even a GOOD runner.  I didn't look the part.  I ran.  A lot.  I loved it.  But that was it.

As the world turned, I did go on and work in the teaching field for a few years, while my addiction to running grew.  When I had the opportunity to coach a group of friends through the Couch 2 5K Program, I fell in love with coaching.  Here were these women who, like me, couldn't run to the end of the street in the beginning.  And within 7 weeks, they did a 5K.  One of them went on to run a half-marathon within 10 months of training.  As much as RUNNING became addictive, so did coaching. 

I realized that I was, in deed, pretty good at coaching.  Probably because I love encouraging people so much and seeing people make positive changes in their life, their successes became extremely exciting for me to witness.

That's why when some new opportunities came my way a few months ago, I jumped, head first into a new endeavor.  After running with my local Life Time Running Club for a few months, I was given the chance to take on the position as a run lead.  While it was a very minimal amount I was to be paid, it was still my first actual JOB in running.  I was going to be paid to run twice a week.  All I had to do was run....and help other people along their run. 

Then an even more awesome thing happened.  Life Time began a Group Training program, which is designed to help people all levels of runners, those who have never run before, and those who have run great distances before.  Newbies and advanced runners alike.  In April, I was asked to be the coach this program and completed my first Run Coach certification program.

The task of rallying up enough runners to fill my group training program seemed daunting.  My running partner (who is technically my boss now...!) and I had only two weeks to find 6 people who would participate in this brand new program.  We (okay me) weren't really sure that we'd be able to fill our program up, but completely committed ourselves to the marketing and advertising of it.  Much to our surprise and delight, our program filled up with the required 6 people, plus 4 more! 

Last week I had my first training session with my group.  To say that I was excited it putting it mildly.  Running that first class was the most awesome thing I'd experienced in a long time.  As I was coaching my brand new runners, who were struggling to complete 60 seconds of jogging intervals, I felt an incredible sense of joy thinking about how, in just 5 more weeks, these people will be coasting through 20 minutes of jogging straight! 

It's funny how this has all come full circle now.  While it's not a full time job that will support my family at this point, it's still a job.  A job that I ADORE and a job that will fully support my addiction to running.