My RRCA Running Coach Training
Happy Workout Wednesday! Before I get into recapping my training experience, I wanted to call attention to the fact that yesterday was American Diabetes Alert Day, when people are encouraged to weigh their risk of determining Type 2 Diabetes. You can take the 2-minute risk assessment here – please do, not only for your health, but also because for every test taken, Boar’s Head is donating $5 to the American Diabetes Association! You know that diabetes is a cause near and dear to my heart, and although I primarily support research for Type 1 diabetes, the ADA covers both. $5 can really add up, so please take the quiz!
RRCA Running Coach Training
This past weekend, I headed to Minneapolis to complete my training to become a Certified Running Coach. The weekend was intense – 18 hours of classroom lecture, a 344-page textbook, practice sessions to develop training plans, and more – all on a Saturday and Sunday! (picture source)
Overall, I really enjoyed the training, and learned a lot. In addition to learning new material, it was nice to solidify what I already knew from my own independent research and continuous learning, meet other fellow coaches, and have the opportunity to ask coaching questions.
Our group of 30 or so hopeful coaches had one instructor, Cari Setzler, who did a fantastic job at engaging the audience for so many hours in a row! She is an impressive running history, is an RRCA-certified coach herself, still runs competitively, has her own running coaching company, and is a full-time veterinarian. Awesome! (picture source)
We covered so much content that it would be impossible (and probably against the rules) for me to try to tell you everything I learned. After all, that’s what you hire me for, right? 🙂 Instead, I’m going to share the content sections we covered, and give a few interesting takeaways bits of knowledge that can stand alone and may be interesting to you.
What the Training Covered
- Overview and Coaching History
- Types of Runners and their Training Needs
- Running Physiology
- Building a Periodized Program
- Running Form and Drills
- Coaching Nutrition (the only section that I found underwhelming, although I guess this is to be expected)
- The Business of Coaching
- Sports Psychology
- Injuries, Heat, and Altitude
- Building Training Programs
A few interesting takeaways
- Running statistics: The “average” runner in the US is 39.3 years old for females, 43.8 years old for males. ~65% of US runners are married, ~75% are college educated, and ~75% earn a household income of over $75,000. Female runners have been running 9.6 years (13.6 for men), 49.2% of female runners and 65.9% of male runners have completed 1 or more marathons, and average weekly mileage is 20.2 miles for women, 25.2 miles for men. 42.5% of female runners and 38.1% of male runners say their favorite race distance is the half marathon (amen!). (picture source)
- How to get better at running, at a cellular level: I always knew that running at a fast-for-you pace in small bursts increases your speed, and running at conversation pace for longer periods of time makes you more efficient at running overall. However, I didn’t understand the cellular changes that were happening when you run at conversation pace (about 45-60 seconds/ mile slower than marathon pace). First, your muscle cells experience an increase in number, size, and distribution of mitochondria, so you can be more efficient at using energy. Second, oxidative enzyme activity increases, so oxygen can be processed faster. Third, more capillaries in your muscles become active, which means more oxygen can be utilized and muscles can fire more efficiently. Cool, huh? (picture source – who knew you can even find a picture of a running mitochondria online?)
- Periodizing your training: I always knew it was smart to periodize your training program, but I never thought of periodizing on three levels: the macrocylce includes the entire training period up until the goal race, the mesocycle includes a shorter training phase within the macrocycle that is targeted towards a specific goal, and the microcycle is a short period (usually a week) within a mesocycle. (picture source … lame graphic, sorry)
- Building overall training plans: This was the largest portion of the training, and the piece that is hardest to recap on a blog post, since it involves actually putting together effective plans to help people reach their goals. The underlying message was that a training plan should vary considerably for a person’s preferences, abilities, strengths, work and life restrictions, injury status, base mileage, race experience, and so much more. I learned how to incorporate all of that into personalized training plans, and the truth is that the training really confirmed what I have been doing for friends and colleagues for several years.
After this last section (and the in-class trials that were evaluated by our trainer), I feel even more confident in my ability to make customized plans from 5K to marathon distance … so let me know if you’re interested in working together! My focus will be on those who are relatively new to a race distance (for example, a non-runner who would like to complete her first 5K, or an experienced runner who would like to complete his first marathon); however, I also know how to build great plans that improve your speed at any given distance! I offer a simple, one-time customized plan based on your unique situation, OR a more interactive package where we check in weekly, I make adjustments to your plan to accommodate for interruptions, injuries, what you’re accomplishing, you have a resource for questions that arise, and more.
So, there you have it … 0.0001% of what I learned over the weekend. Truly, I’m so glad I completed the program, as it’s been on my list for a long while now (and it’s VERY hard to get into the sessions … in fact, every training for the remainder of this year is already full!). I always love learning, and learning about something that is such a big part of my life is even better!
So tell me in the comments … If you’re a runner, how do you compare to the “average” statistics? Have you ever used a coach for running? If not, do you make your own training plans yourself or use standard ones online? What is your risk level for Type 2 Diabetes?