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Dear Athlete,

During the last couple of weeks I have been thinking deeply about the level of coaching I am going to provide to you. I spoke to athletes, fellow running coaches, athletes in non-running events, running club representatives, club & coach support officers, coaching educators and some of my friends at the business school regarding what kind of coaching services athletes in London find most useful and suitable. Considering all the different views I was really positively surprised about the variety and facets endurance coaching can provide.

Many of you know that I have been coaching quite a number of athletes during the last couple of years. My previous coaching was predominantly focussed on a group setting, but also on a few individuals who were working towards their own goals and following a more personalised training programme. While I will continue with coaching running teams my main focus for the next couple of months will be coaching on a 1:1 basis. This means I am going to spend more times planning, reviewing and monitoring athlete’s training. As time permits I will continue to do ‘hands-on’ training sessions as well. I am always exciting about this part, trying out new workouts, factoring seasonal and event-specific aspects in a training session.

I have updated the RunUrban web site. I put more detail around what coaching on an individual basis will entail and how this will look like in practice. I am going to review and refine my coaching offering over the next couple of weeks to make sure the coaching service is suitable, relevant and can be fulfilled at a quality I am happy with. At the present I am coaching an athlete on an individual 1:1 basis for the Virgin London Marathon. I have done my first running technique assessment session for 2013, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Over the next couple of weeks I will take on a few more athletes.

What kind of athletes am I going to coach? At this stage I have no restrictions in terms of what kind of athletes I will be coaching. I am very keen to work with motivated intermediate athletes as I believe I can make the most difference here. An important pre-requisite is that you should be healthy, not currently injured and already been training. In addition, I am interested to work with athletes with a mid to long term view rather than rushing athletes through a 12 weeks training programme for the next marathon. My coaching experience until today has been centred mainly around senior athletes.

I have been coaching a couple of junior athletes too. However, my preference is that athletes wanting 1:1 coaching should be at least 18 years old. I am a firm believer that the training environment for 14 to 18 year old young athletes need to have a training environment with athletes at similar age and the focus is more on development rather than performance oriented coaching. In my coaching capacity I will not be able to provide such a coaching experience and young athletes who would like to be coached by me should rather opt for a coach specialising on young athletes.

In terms of events, my strength are the endurance events (middle distance and long distance) on the track, cross country and the road. I have coached marathon runners too and have been working with Sprint and Olympic distance triathletes wanting to boost there running in the past.

As a coach I am most effective when working with individuals following a structured programme.Coach Urban For some athletes this approach may not work for them, some find working around a training programme too rigid and find the required discipline a constraint. At the same time, athletes especially those with motivation, commitment, discipline and willingness to improve appreciate a more methodological approach and a clear direction for their training. In my own experience, when working with athletes, the better the training plan, the better the quality of communication between coachee and coach, the better the training execution, the better the quality of training, the better the race execution, which leads to faster learning, quicker improvement cycles, more happy, motivated and confident athletes.

My coaching philosophy evolves around a process. I am don’t put usually a lot of emphasis on specific performances, neither would I try to predict the performance of a race based on times run in an interval session or forecast marathon success based on the result of a 20 miler race.  My main goal when working with athletes have always been outcome oriented and working more holistically to unlock the athletes true potential. According to Gallup’s Strength Finder test, one of more strongest skills is ‘individualisation’. I am intrigued and deeply motivated by the unique qualities of each person. I spent a great deal of time working out the different styles of people, what makes them tick, how they communicate, how they are motivated, etc. I often attribute it rather to this skill and insight instead of my technical running knowledge which leads to running success and many PBs amongst my coachees.

You may have noticed that some coaches put a price tag against the coaching service they provide. I made the decision that I will be charging athletes for coaching too. Putting a training programme together takes time and so does the communication with the athletes. Things of perfection must not be looked at in a hurry, but with time, judgement and understanding. Judging them requires the same process as making them! So true, the same can be said for coaching. However, I am not going to take any profits from my coaching activities and have decided that all fees will be donated to Shoe4Africa. Shoe4Africa, a small grass-root charity has the aim to build a children’s hospital (aka the runner’s hospital) in Eldoret, Kenya. This way athlete and coach can contribute towards a great cause. For most of us in the highly developed world a small monthly donation is nothing and does not impact or lower our standard of living. Coached athletes give a monthly donation in return to 1:1 coaching. Athletes are encouraged to reach out and seek sponsorship amongst friends and family too.

I am pretty much looking forward to working with you. If you are interested in 1:1 coaching, running technique assessment or looking for a team coach then please get in touch to discuss further. You can contact me either by filling out the contact form on the web site or by dropping me an email to info@runurban.com.

Best regards,
Coach Urban

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