Soldrevet is growing. One topic that continues to arise is what it means to have a coach. With this post, I lay out a few themes that I enjoy as part of being coached. Yes, my own coach is for endurance athletics, yet Soldrevet coaching is different all together. I hope you’ll see the similarities.
Today’s thoughts are stubs for longer posts in the future. Use the comments section to let me know which theme you want me to expand next.
My own experience being coached
Readers of Jeg er jo Soldrevet will know that I spend lots of time running around outside. Endurance athletics have attracted me since high school. Extensive hiking trails in the wilderness of Norway led me trail running. Until 2019, I took a lackadaisical approach to running. In November 2019, just as I had decided to quit my job, I hired a professional running coach.
Why did I start with a coach? I’ll give a short answer here and will return with a longer answer in a future post. Among the objectives I set for myself, I find the following three items. The text below is un-edited from what I wrote in October 2019.
- I want to get better at making goals that are non-numerical, get better at evaluating progress (or know whether the goal was sensible/well-formed) and enjoying the success of reaching it.
- I want to move away from prescriptive running schedules and transition to high-value exercise time.
- I want to play outside as much as possible. I play in rain, snow, puddles, mud, and cold, but wind is always the worst.
Wow. In my list of objectives from a year ago, I see the seeds of Soldrevet sprouting.
Freedom to explore
Having a coach who sets a daily exercise program gives me restrictions to play freely. Within a space set up for me, I can play as I wish while knowing I will stay healthy. I think of it as something like being let loose on the playground after lunch in elementary school. We had a set amount time to play, a space built for playing, and were only asked to have fun.
My default action is to do too much. Here in Norway, where the trails are endless, it’s too easy for me to hurt myself by forgetting to rest. At work or at play, I like doing, moving, seeing, discovering, and rediscovering. Having a coach means that a skilled person has set up a playground for me to enjoy, and that I’ll stay mentally and physically healthy in my daily play.
Compulsion for introspection
My coach needs to know how I’m feeling. Moving through many kinds of terrain is a joy of trail running. In a single run this summer, I had rocky trail, cliff scrambling on all fours, river crossings, ocean squalls swarming off the North Atlantic Ocean, sunshine, and smooth road. My ability to assess my own progression and then compose a report are more valuable than data from a GPS watch with a heart-rate monitor.
Much of my training this year has been getting to know my own head. I’m learning to evaluate my effort using the tools between my ears. How am I feeling? How hard am I working? What is the intent of today’s workout? I have felt myself grow from learning to reflect and ask these questions to learning to answer these questions. Important, too, is making sure I answer myself without negative judgement. Composing my responses for my coach builds my internal awareness.
Growth under confident thinking
Self evaluation done while on the move has displaced my tendency for worry and measurement. I used to spend much of my running time thinking about whether I was doing the right thing, or looking at my speed and distance and measuring myself. Not only were those thoughts counterproductive, but now I have no time for them. I’ve got more important tasks to do than post a faster time on Strava, look at my watch for an external validation, or measure my worth in kilometers run in a week. I have been given the freedom to explore and the compulsion to be introspective.
I feel physical and personal growth because I am confident my efforts are spent well. I sleep more soundly. I think less critically with my shoes on and off. I move softer and more confidently than ever.
My coach is Shawn Bearden, who runs Science of Ultra. If you’re looking resources for endurance training, head over to his site. I recommend his podcast, which you’ll find on his website as well. Perhaps you’ll spot some similarities in philosophy – probably why his coaching is working for me.