fitness · motivation · training

Being Coachable in Mid-Life

The other day I read an interview with the slow-running, glasses-wearing TikTok sensation Erin Azar, aka Mrs Space Cadet. She is an offbeat, self-made athlete, but one thing she does share with other more conventional runners is that she has a running coach.

Her experience got me thinking about my experience with coaches. For most of my early life I’ve had a vague and unexamined sense that coaches were a luxury item for those who could afford more than group fitness classes (not me). Or, coaches were only for top performance athletes, like those training for the Olympics (also not me). Aside from being on community softball teams with supportive parents, I have never really had a dedicated (volunteer or paid) coach for motivation, safety, or performance in a physical activity.

Now, as I engage more in recreational fitness activities during mid-life, I am more curious to know what I might have been missing.

What I do have (and have always had) is an interest in hearing the perspectives of passionate, knowledgeable people. Maybe that’s why I’ve enjoyed posting interviews on FIFI. Michael Collins, who coaches and trains first-time weightlifters, helped me to understand how coaching can make a sport more approachable and accessible. Longtime curlers Dale Sinclair and Joanne Tarvit taught me about the enduring role that curling plays in bringing family and community together. Coach, player, and referee Kayla Marcoux got me thinking about how officiants can support the safety of players in different soccer leagues.

Over the past few years I’ve come to realize that these folks (and others) have all been, in some way, my coaches. They’ve helped me to learn about my new-ish fitness activities or unlearn some of my prior assumptions and fears. When I take the time to ask players I admire for their input or advice, I benefit in so many ways. And most times I don’t think they mind me asking!

So, while I have never had A coach, I know I have the humility and confidence to seek learning and feedback opportunities from different people. What I lack in early life sports and fitness training I make up for now in mid-life with being coachable.

What is your experience with coaches (past or present)? How coachable are you?

athletes · cycling · running

My own personal fitness drone?

I confess. I’m a gadget and data geek.  (See Data geekery and fitness.) I’m an early adopter and lover of all things techie. Right now I’m big fan of our new electric car and when it’s minus 34 with windchill with morning, I especially love the android app that lets me preheat it from my house.

There are few fitness toys I don’t like. But I’ve got to say, I’m a little leery of personal drones. I’ve been reading lots about their potential as fitness aids but I’m not convinced.

For sure they might make running safer for women. See The Drones of the Future Won’t Kill, They’ll Take Selfies.

The other concept the group settled on was Guardian Angel, a drone that’s billed as “the ultimate accessory for serious runners.” In addition to serving as a constant, hovering bodyguard on a solitary jog, the craft could also offer a number of novel fitness-related features.

It could zip ahead to set your pace, drawing on data from a heart rate monitor to figure out when you’re lagging and could be pushed to go a bit harder. It could also stand in as a proxy for your previous runs, kind of like the ghost drivers in Mario Kart—or even let you race against another drone-equipped friend remotely in real time.

drone photo with woman running

There’s also talk of coaching drones. Now, me, I love being yelled at while working out preferably by someone whose judgement about what I can do I know that I can trust. Susan’s guest post Or, Only When You are Watching  really resonated with me. But a coaching drone?

I read that some sports teams, the Marlins, for instance, are using drone with cameras for coaching purposes. For now, it’s just recording, not barking out orders but surely that can’t be far behind.

There’s also some enthusiasm for drones as companions on bike rides.

Bicycling Magazines declares that thanks to drones you might never have to ride alone again. See A Drone for Cyclists?.

The consulting firm Frog Design recently set out to create drone concepts for civilian use. Its “Cyclodrone” would allow cyclists to pedal by themselves while enjoying the visibility and security of group riding.

“This is sort of a way to ride in a pack when you don’t have a pack,” says product development director Cormac Eubanks, who designed the Cycledrone. “For solo cyclists who ride some of these windy roads with narrow visibility, I think it could definitely make riding safer.”

The design would incorporate two drones, one to fly in front of the bicycle and the second to fly in rear, to improve the visibility of the cyclist. The system would be equipped with a camera—“the original idea was to record accidents, but you could make a whole movie of your ride,” Eubanks says.


When it comes to technology, it’s not often I get to feel like an old grump, but this definitely brought out my inner old grouch. What about people? Isn’t it better to ride and to run with other people?

I worry that drone accompanied cyclists would miss out on lots of things, like how to ride in a group with other bikes, the need for hand signals, and reliable behavior when others are close to your rear wheel. (See Things you learn from working out with others.)

There’s also a bit of a worry about the ever increasing  gap between the rich and the poor. Rich runners and cyclists will have drones and others won’t.

What do you think? Will you be an early adopter of the personal fitness drones?