Finding a Coach

Finding a Coach November 23 2016, 0 Comments

This is not an article about how to find the best coach for you. It is about finding a purpose as a coach. It may give insight into that person you see as “coach”.


For much of my early life in running I would have defined myself as an athlete. Running wasn’t always easy but it was something I could do well and hard work brought good results.  Slowly I realized that there could be more to my involvement in the sport than just the place I finish in a race and the time I ran. The transition from athlete to athlete as role model started. At this point I would not yet have considered myself a coach but it was a transition where I started to see myself as someone who could influence how others approach running. I quite liked this role and this was the beginning of a long journey towards the place I am now. Now I would define myself in running as a coach, former competitive athlete and someone who runs quite a bit when there is time.


Along with the transition from athlete to role model to coach comes a transition in the way to see this role. Starting with passion, an intense desire and enthusiasm for the sport and this remains the basis and daily approach to coaching. Initially coaching is an avocation, a hobby or minor occupation that allows the coach to help others with their running while pursuing other interests. For some, this is where coaching remains in their lives. For others, over time, the passion for the sport leads to learning, improving to be the best you can be at coaching. At this point avocation starts to become a profession. As a professional, coaches strive to have a high level of education, keep current on the latest research and continue to look to mentors, athletes and colleagues to see what everyone is doing well.


The biggest difference between being an athlete and a coach is that as the coach it is not about you. The ego sits off to the side helping in your desire to get the best from your athletes but only that. You must find a way to help them with what they want from running. No matter what, the coach cannot jump in and do the intervals, cannot be there to tell them to go to bed, cannot be on the start line and run the race for them. You can prepare them physically with great training, you can listen to the other stressors in their life and work with them to get the most from themselves, you can encourage them to make good choices nutritionally and from a recovery point of view, and you can be their role model and advisor. Most importantly, you share their passion.

At the beginning this was not about how to find a coach. It was about how an athlete found herself as a coach. This is a life long work in progress.

Guest Blogger,

Kathy Butler

2 x Olympian

USATF Level 2/IAAF Level 5 Coach

Boulder Track Club Development Team Coach