“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Probably not the first thing that comes to your mind when talking about coaching distance runners…but here we are! This quote right here is how I was able to hit the ground running as a head coach. When I developed my first training plan, I looked at my personal lifetime of training with the mindset of “what did I like about my training?” Well…that training plan lasted maybe two weeks before it found the bottom of my trash can. It was awful, and it was awful because it made zero sense. It was like I had a simple math equation of 2+2+2, but it did not equal six. Sure it made sense, but it did not equal the needs of my athletes. Instead, I went back to the drawing board and pulled out all of the things that made zero sense in my training. My mission was to recreate the ideas that made zero sense into ideas that actually did make sense. Suddenly 2+2+2 equaled six.
Another important aspect of this is that it developed my self-confidence (very important in terms of success) as a coach because I had created something to call my own. I did not want to be the coach that used the phrase “well so & so did it and he ran sub 9:00 in the two mile” when explaining our training. It’s lazy coaching. Athletes deserve to blaze their own paths, not imitate the paths of someone else. Yes, I realize that everyone imitates training at some point in time, but it’s what you innovate from that imitation that defines you. As a coach, realize that certain aspects of a plan may not work for your athletes (or even yourself) and THAT IS OK!!!! It is our job as coaches to innovate our training plans and ideologies, so that we can tailor them to the developmental needs of our athletes.