Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Running With Coach Dave: A Look Back

Market Street run before Bro left for college Aug 2015

Last night I accomplished a major milestone in my running career by passing the RRCA running coach certification exam. Coaching & running goes hand & hand for me as I started doing both almost simultaneously. I started running in February 2010 as I prepared to take part in the Gener8tion Run 8k in April 2010 (now a 5k.) That was the inaugural year of the signature race for Students Run Philly Style (SRPS), a non-profit program that uses distancing running as a means to mentor Philadelphia youth ages 12-18. 

Me with my first coach. I set my 2010 5k PR that day 30:17
  I went on to complete that race and a handful of 5k’s throughout that that year which eventually ended with me running the now defunct WHYY 12kin November, which was my longest race distance that year. It wasn’t the longest distance I had run as I had pushed to 8 miles in preparation for the event. 

In 2011 I joined SRPS as a volunteer running leader. It would be here that I’d say I got my coaching start; although, it wasn’t much coaching going on that first year as I tried to prepare myself and students to race distances in which many of us had never dreamed of running.

 I started as a running leader on a previous formed team which ran out People for People (PFP) Charter School located at Broad & Brown Street. I was initially “recruited” to run with a different team during the off-season. However, once I heard PFP had a team I had no choice but to run with them. It was a computer program at PFP where I had taken a Comptia A+ Certification course which had led to me landing my current job, which led to me meeting my wife, which led to me running, which led to me joining SRPS. So given that ripple effect, I didn't even give it second thought. I had also been donating money to the organization via United Way for a few years up to that point so it almost like destiny.
End of the 2011 SRPS Season w/ my daughter & Bro

 My daughter had joined along with me and I remember both of us walking into the class room at the school for the first time to meet the team and feeling like complete outsiders. Youth, especially inner city youth, have a very distrusting disposition and in many ways rightfully so. I got the feeling that not many of them didn't like us as soon as we walked in for no reason other than we weren’t one of them. The beautiful thing about that day is that the young man the teachers sent to get my daughter and I from the waiting area, ended up being one of only two students that would complete that season with me, my daughter being the other. The students and running leaders that made it to the BCBSR that year didn’t return after school ended. It’s been 5 years and that young man & I just completed yet another half marathon together this past weekend. I don’t think another student on that team has completed a race after they left us that season. He and I completed four years in SRPS together, he often acting as my gateway to the students on each new team. I found a brother for life that year in the form of a little chubby 8th grader, go figure. 

BCBSR 2011
Philly Marathon training 2011
ODDyssey Half 2011

  In hindsight, that first year with SRPS I’d say was more about learning what not to do as a parent coach/mentor/ than anything else. At that point I was still trying to figure out how to parent a teenage daughter, without going to jail, as well as get kids through a 10 miler and later a half marathon. I was also still learning to run myself. Many aspects of that first year were difficult but I learned a great deal.
Bro & I at Disney with SRPS 2013
I spent four years with SRPS, starting two community based teams the next three years. We ran out of Love Park in 2012 & 2013. Then we switched to Kingsessing Rec Center for my final year in 2014. 

By the time 2014 came around I knew coaching runners was something that I wanted to do. Seeing runners achieve a goal that they never envisioned is pure enjoyment for me. It also inspires me to push myself to new limits. Heck, even if they envisioned it happening and just needed my help that is still a great feeling. It’s like set goal, accomplish goal, repeat.  
I’ve been called coach for a minimum of 3 years; it feels so good to officially hold that title now. I’ve learned so much about running, more specifically training for an optimal running performance, over the last 6 months as I prepared for both the NAASFP and the RRCA coaching certifications. I don’t think the average recreational runner even values the importance of a running coach and a personalized training plan. I know I didn’t for many years. Hopefully, hiring coaches becomes the new fad in the running world. LMAO.
Best year ever 2012
Kingsessing: Team of Kings & Queens
Push it to the limit!

 Whether we’ve trained together, I paced them in the race or the runner simply picked my brain, I’ve helped a number of runners PR from distances ranging for a 5k to the marathon. I’ve also been disappointed a few times when my advice was solicited but not heeded and the runner ended up not doing their best. We just regroup and try again. That's the beautiful thing about running, there's always another race. For a while, I really didn't consider most of this coaching. To me we were just running and/or talking about running. I recently congratulated a fellow runner on a great BCBSR run and his reply was, “thanks Dave, your coaching helped.” I thought to myself, wait did I coach him?  It's the moments like these that make you realize that when logging miles, sharing accomplishments and knowledge, you never know who you're inspiring. I may not have written his training plan or put in a ton of miles with him but I influenced him in some way. I don’t know how, all I know is that I inspired him. As a coach, as a runner, that’s all I set out to do. 

First marathon 2011 4:58 but I didn't die LOL
Run Hard, Train Harder
Coach Dave

"Achievement comes from continually taking the next step, whatever that step must be."

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