Juneathon 2015 Day 6: The One With The Paced parkrun

Some Saturday mornings are for lay ins, some are for parkrun.  Given that Juneathon day 5 was an excuse day rather than exercise day, this Saturday morning definitely needed to be the latter.

My legs were still feeling the Mota-vation race so I killed two birds with one stone – I would help one of my athletes hit a couple of her own running targets while giving the legs a gentle going over to loosen up.

Coach’s note: I sort the permission of the athlete in question prior to publishing this post.

The strength of character that this athlete has demonstrated over the years is amazing but for some reason running is her kryptonite.  Her desire to go faster is there but her frustration increases as her resolve disolves during a run.

However, over the last couple of weeks she has turned a corner.

Upping her normal one run a week to two has started to pay off.  Offering to pace her round Oxford parkrun was a way to help her get that second run in.

Her desire to get faster has meant she often goes off too quickly to sustain.  That results in some walking (not necessarily a bad thing – run/walk sessions are a great way to help get your running going) which in turn ups her frustration level and smashes her confidence.

So the goal we agreed on for this parkrun would be to complete it without walking – something that in three attempts she hadn’t managed, yet she had previously covered 5k without walking on a number of Tuesday sessions.

We discussed and agreed the planned pace of 7 minute kilometres – a pace that would not result in a PB; something we needed to forget about for today.

Today was about a calm, measured, consistent run to prove to this girl that #ThisGirlCan!

It’s always hard to go steady at the start of an event.  It’s even harder when it starts downhill!  I reminded the athlete to relax and go easy, encouraging to hold back by running slightly behind her shoulder.

I’d be using two tools to help the athlete achieve her session goal: I’d got my running watch to keep an eye on pace but the most important thing would be observing her effort levels; if she was working too hard we’d need to ease off.

The first few half-kilometer splits on my watch were a tad on the keen side but I was happy the athlete was running within herself so let her rhythm continue while ensuring she didn’t get carried away.

I was pleased to see my running uphill cues were heeded by the athlete who grabbed the short sharp hill with two hands on each of the three laps.

My running trademark is finishing a race with as much as possible and I encourage my athletes to leave it all in the home straight but for the second time in a week, this athlete told me she had nothing more to give.

As she turned the final corner I asked and encouraged her to dig deep and look for anything she had left.  For the second time in a week she found something more to give!

Positively reminding her to use her arms, lift her knees and keep pushing she fled for the line at a fair lick of pace.

She’d done it!  A parkrun without stopping!  The session goal firmly ticked off with a sprint finish as the cherry in the top.

I was proud.

Turns out there was some cream to go with the cherry-topped cake: a new PB!

The athlete was understandably chuffed to bits and I was duly thanked for sacrificing my own run.  The thing is, when an athlete shows the right level of effort and hits a session with the right attitude, coaching that session is just as rewarding as running a great session yourself.

I’m sure this will be a stepping stone to her next set of running achievements.


Thinking about getting more involved with run leading or coaching?  Please feel free to get in touch with me; I’d be more than happy to explain more about the journey and what to expect.


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