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?