I would gander a guess that just about any athlete who has had a positive coaching influence in their life has contemplated becoming a coach at some time or another. Or maybe I’m the only one. Whatever the case, I started contemplating coaching in high school as a tennis player. Something about administrating a team, planning practices, and leading a group of wayward teenagers appealed to me.
This bled over to the off-season. I started weight training in my sophomore physical education class, and I loved encouraging my fellow classmates to push out another rep, to run another lap. After that class wrapped up, my mom and I started weight training at our community center. I wasn’t 18, so I had to be there with an adult, and I dragged her along with me. That’s when I started applying everything I learned from my P.E. class and a summer Bigger Faster Stronger program to my personal strength training program.
All of this — paired with a newfound love of biology — led me to declare that my college major would be athletic training and dietetics. And so, I researched in-state schools that offered both of these majors, and that’s where I applied. I ultimately wound up at Missouri State University (then Southwest Missouri State University), but in the summer between high school and college, I switched my major to technical and professional writing. That was the right decision, but I never lost that love of planning training programs and encouraging someone else to better themselves.
When I started running seriously, that is, to train for an actual race, my administrative, uber-organized streak had me reading everything I could about running, planning training programs for me and my running partner Linden, and semi-dreaming again about coaching. But I was a total newb; I had zero racing experience, and I didn’t have much more running experience. So I put the dream in my pocket and kept running. But every time I drew up a new training schedule for my next race the coach in my pocket snuck out again.
I’ve been away from running for over a year. And as I get back into running, as I’m helping Linden train for a half marathon, the coach in my pocket is back. But this time, I’m not putting her back. At least not for now. I’m exploring what it might look like for me to be a running coach. Yeesh! I said it! That’s the hardest part, right?
— Sarah Jo