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Sue Koch

Sue Koch spent 15 years in consulting and corporate roles building and managing the internal business systems and organizational structures of small technology companies in Chicago. Joining early stage companies gave her exceptional coverage in all aspects of running a business. In pursuit of her e...

Category of Expertise:

Health & Fitness


Soaring Solutions LLC

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02/22/2011 01:03pm
A Different Kind of Running Coach


When one thinks of a coach for an athlete, the first thing that comes to mind is the coach out on the field, in the gym, trackside or poolside, yelling commands, blowing a whistle, and monitoring with a stopwatch. More and more, athletes are looking to another kind of coach to support and motivate them to achieve greater goals. This is the personal development coach, or more specifically, a performance fitness coach.

This paper will describe the benefits of working with a performance fitness coach, using competitive running racing as an example, to see how coaching off the field can also take an athlete to the next level. For clarity sake, from here on out, the differentiation will be identified as the athletic coach (on the field) and the performance fitness coach (off the field).

Who can benefit from this type of coaching?

Really anyone! But more specifically, a runner who is finding themselves in need of deeper motivation, rejuvenation, accountability and a support system. The following profiles are some that may greatly benefit from this type of coaching relationship.

The Novice Racer:
The number of racers showing up as first-time half or full marathoners each year is astonishing as well as inspiring. Being new to such a challenging event can often raise doubts, frustrations and questions as to why they decided to take up this crazy, lofty new goal. The notion of quitting may come up on multiple occasions as they put their body through new rigorous routines and feel pains and struggles never experienced before; both physical and mental. New “Gremlins” (those doubting voices in your head) may rear their heads and speak loudly as one tries to tackle this challenging goal for the first time.

The Recovering Injured:
With more and more people putting their bodies through such strenuous efforts, and often those new to heavy training intensity, greater numbers of runners are ending up in physical therapy due to injuries. During the process of healing, as well as once overcoming the injury, dealing with the emotional frustration of getting back out there can be a severe drain on motivation, sometimes to the extent of causing depression, and engaging in self-sabotaging habits. For the avid or lifetime competitive runner, taking a break or compromising goal times and training intensity can create a sense of lost self worth, as this is how many runners define themselves. It can be a deep emotional struggle in addition to the physical recovery

The Plateaued Runner:
Often times, a competitive racer may see drastic improvements in their times from race to race. This is a great source of pleasure, accomplishment and pride. Just like any endeavor in life, a plateau is often hit somewhere along the way. While the athletic coach may seek to help the runner vary up their routine, modify eating habits, or push them with the aggression needed to achieve desired results, there are deep internal struggles and frustrations that go along with this plateau that the performance fitness coach can help empower the athlete through with the proper inner work.

The Burned-Out Runner:
Many competitive runners do frequent races consistently throughout the year, and do so over the course of their lives. While they have a deep, sometimes incomprehensible love for the sport, they can encounter burnout. Somewhat unlike the career professional hitting burnout, runners hitting burnout often do not actually want to take a break. Something in the makeup of this type of runner simply won’t allow it. They want to find a way to bring the spark back, rekindle the love if you will, and continue on with the sport feeling the exhilaration and inner peace it has always brought them. They need to be re-energized and inspired again. Perhaps come back with a new perspective, a different passion driven purpose, or exciting action plan.

Getting to the bottom of it all

For the athletic coach, “getting to the bottom of it” may mean making sure the appropriate shoe for the runner’s


running, performance coaching, competition, runners, racing, fitness, wellness, competitive racing, marathon, endurance, goal setting, process focused, outcome focused
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