Thursday, 1 August 2013

Being a first time running instructor

This is the last week of a 10 week running clinic for beginner runners that I was instructing. It was my first go as a running instructor and I'd like think I did an good job. I met and became friends with a number of individuals who I had the pleasure of teaching the "art" of running.

It felt like yesterday when the manager of the local Running Room, which I work part time for, asked if I would like to instruct the Learn To Run clinic as she felt I would be good at it. I was reluctant at first as I never instructed anyone on the basics of running. I wasn't sure I would be any good at it. I remember thinking that it would be a great challenge to guide a group of novice runners and train them to be race ready for an upcoming 5k race. The challenge was too good to pass up so I accepted. Finding out that I would get paid for it as well was a nice bonus. So for the first time in my life, I was actually getting paid to run! 

I found out there would be 11 people in my group. That got me a bit nervous. All I could think about was how these 11 people were going to be counting on me to get them through 10 weeks and make them better runners, build there endurance, give them tips on improving, show them proper stretching techniques, offer injury prevention advice, guide them on proper clothing and shoes, proper nutrition, etc. Yep, I was getting nervous.

So the first day arrived, I had my notes ready and greeted the runners of my group as they walked in. Soon all 11 had arrived and were patiently seated waiting for me to begin. The only problem was I was in the stores washroom asking myself if I was ready for this. A co-worker  knocked on the door and said, "Lewis, its 6:30, they are waiting for you to start. This was it! It was showtime!

I walked up to the front of the group and introduced myself again. That's when I noticed that all 22 eyes are focused on me ready to learn, ready to hear me talk about running, ready to follow my lead as a runner. I talked for a bit sounding rather nervous but was okay overall. I had everyone introduce themselves and explain why they have joined the group. I felt I needed to break the ice somehow, ease the tension and my nervousness. I got my opportunity. One of the runners introduced herself and told everyone she was nervous as she didn't know "how to run". I asked if anyone shared her worry about not knowing "how to run". A few others raised their hands. I informed them it was easy to run. I told them all you need to do is put your right foot in front of your left foot, then your left foot in front of your right foot and repeat. Then I thanked them for coming and jokingly said "Good night folks!" This got a nice laugh and all tension and nervousness disappeared. 

We went out for an easy run which everyone enjoyed. I helped everyone during the run, answered questions, and offered advice. I was already enjoying the role of instructor. I knew this was for me.

The weeks went by and sadly a number of runners did drop out. One due to injury and others just stopped showing up. This made me think that I need to do more to motivate people so they won't want to drop out. The thought that I didn't do enough sticks in my mind. 

My first group ended up with a core of 6 people. Watching them complete their first race and knowing that I played a big part in that is so gratifying. It's a wonderful reward when someone comes up to you and thanks you for getting them prepared for their first race, that they couldn't do it without me.  

Yes, being an running instructor is a role I want for a long time. I was asked to instruct the next group of beginner runners. So I guess I am doing something right. And mark my words, I will see to it that nobody quits. That's my goal. Making sure all who starts finishes.

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