Why and How I Became a Coach

by Lauren E. Carnahan

I grew up in a small town in Western New York. Over the course of my life, I played many different sports- volleyball, softball, basketball, track (I was not much of a runner then), and golf. Through those years, I had some amazing coaches and of course some not so amazing coaches. A few of those coaches inspired me to become a coach at various stages of my life. I coached junior high basketball and cross country while I was teaching back in Western New York. The one sport I really enjoyed coaching the most was cross country. During this time, I was a runner. I ran just for the recreation and fitness. My running never really became competitive until I moved to the Capital Region and joined Willow Street. The thought of becoming a certified running coach never really crossed my mind.

When I moved to the Capital Region in 2013, I found myself starting to get more into running and racing. It really was a way for me to meet people and make friends. Over the years, I wanted to improve my times and try trail running. I would read and do research about various workouts, and my times would improve, but I wanted more. As I made friends, some would ask me for advice. Not being a certified coach, I felt a little incompetent. It was time to do something about it.

It was in the Spring of 2018, that I decided to take the RRCA (Road Runners Club of America) Coaching Certification Course (Level 1). Honestly, I took this course to provide me with the knowledge and skills to help me become a better athlete and to support others. The material presented over the 2 days really helped me grow as an athlete, teammate, and supporter to others. Do I have an active business as a coach? At the moment because of the two year Pandemic, I’m here for advice, support, and knowledge to anyone that asks. I’m not in it for profit. I’m in it for the sport and growth.

Links to Coaching Certification Programs

RRCA (Road Runners Club of America) Coaching Certification Course (Level 1 & 2).

Since 1998, the RRCA Coaching Certification Program has provided a baseline of education for individuals seeking to become knowledgeable and ethical distance running coaches to work with runners of all ages and abilities.

The RRCA Coaching Certification program is comprised of two levels: Level 1 and Level 2.

The Level II Coaching Certification program is open to all RRCA Level I Certified Coaches in good standing who have been certified for a minimum of one year. The Level II program is designed for coaches seeking to enhance their knowledge or reinforce concepts learned in Level I​.

USATF Level 1 Certification Information
The Level 1 course is the cornerstone of the USATF Coaching Education Program. Led by USATF certified instructors, the 21.5 hour live course (presented on Zoom) covers all events and related sports science in a straightforward manner by emphasizing fundamentals, rules, safety and risk management, and teaching progressions. Certified by the National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCACE), the course prepares an individual to coach at the junior age, high school, and club division level.

USATF Level 2 Certification Information
The USATF Level 2 Program is guaranteed to challenge and advance your knowledge of the sport. Certified by the National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCACE), the course provides an advanced, in depth education in one event group and the knowledge to write a comprehensive training plan. The intense four-day course is preceded by online sports science instruction and exams covering biomechanics, physiology, skill acquisition and training theory for all first-time participants. Once a coach has applied and is accepted into the course, they are permitted access to the online sports science classroom to complete pre-requisite coursework prior to arrival. At the course, coaches are separated into event specific groups which focus on the technical aspects using video analysis, group projects, classroom instruction, and hands-on training. Coaches are tested on their knowledge from the event specific lectures and are presented a Level 2 certificate at graduation. Event disciplines offered include:

  • Sprints/Hurdles/Relays
  • Endurance
  • Jumps
  • Throws
  • Combined Events
  • Youth Specialization

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