Running is simple. You just put on your shoes, head out of the door and run, surely? For many of you, a whole lifetime of running is just that; it’s easy to do wherever you are, whenever you like, and requires you to commit to nothing at all.
For others, running raises questions you want answers to, challenges you want to overcome and problems you want to solve. Whether it is to run further or faster, prevent an annoying niggle, or try running off-road, you want more. In the day and age of the internet, many answers and solutions can be found at the touch of a screen. Ask Google how to run faster and you’ll be given enough ideas to last you for the rest of your running life; seek advice from an online forum on dealing with your sore Achilles and the ideas will flow. But there will still be something missing; the human element, for all the technology in the world cannot replace what you get from actually training alongside others.
Joining a running club or group coached session can introduce a whole new dimension to your training, one that involves other people. For many of you, beginners and experienced runners alike, it takes courage to go along for the first time. There can’t be many who turn up to a new group or club without having asked themselves “Am I too slow/fat/unfit/inexperienced (insert other appropriate word) to join in?” But for those of you who make the brave move, what’s in it for you? What can you get from a coached session that you can’t get on your own or through technology?
* You’ll have fun! A good coach will ensure that time flies, breaking up the session into interesting, fun running activities that work you hard and bring a smile to your face
* You won’t ‘go for a run’. Instead you’ll take part in a structured series of running-based activities, designed to help you progress. From warming-up through to running drills and a main focus, such as improving your aerobic pace, you’ll still run a fair distance, but without going farfrom your starting point
* You’ll learn and practise new skills and techniques. Whether it’s to speed up your cadence or improve your confidence downhill, a good coach will model and explain, not just what you need to do but why
* You’ll get feedback on your running. Either by watching with the naked eye, or through the use of video, your coach will explain what you are doing well, what you need to work on and show you what you need to do to improve
* You’ll learn a lot, an awful lot. Some things you’ll learn from your coach, others you’ll discover with your peers or find out for yourself. Whatever your learning style, your running will benefit
* You’ll make new running friends. Whilst catching your breath during intervals, or cooling down at the end, you’ll get chatting to your fellow runners, some of whom will most likely become friends for life
* You’ll get support and encouragement from others. When that last hard effort is making your legs scream, the words of your companions will spur you on. You’ll do the same for them too
* You’ll see your running improve over time. Opportunities to measure your progress will be provided by a good coach in many ways, be it through watching yourself on screen to running a time trial over a set distance. And when improvements are made, what better way to celebrate than with the runners who have supported and encouraged you along the way.
If you have yet to try a coached session with a group or club, give it a go. You have nothing to lose and an awful lot to gain. Your running, and indeed your life, might never be quite the same again!