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Secrets of a running Coach: Lamppost’s, Choices, Tell me about it and Trash TV | Coaching Adults | ConnectedCoaches

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Home » Groups » Coaching Adults » blogs » Craig Blain » Secrets of a running Coach: Lamppost’s, Choices, Tell me about it and Trash TV
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Secrets of a running Coach: Lamppost’s, Choices, Tell me about it and Trash TV

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As a coach, I have always watched with great curiosity my community becoming more physically active at this time of year..

I am a running coach in a small rural village of no more than 3,000 people, yet in the months of March to April it would seem that the majority of them are negotiating the narrow, uneven footpaths at the same time. Cycling, walking, jogging, even horse riding; you name it, everyone is at it!

But, unfortunately each year around May the same pattern emerges: people become less and less active, but why? Other than beer gardens and Easter holidays, my only thought for the decrease in activity, is that people don’t discover the benefits they were expecting to find.

I am lucky enough to work in the coaching sector. So as a practicing coach I benefit from having the time to research and gain a deeper understanding of the profession through my work, specifically in physical activity.  

I am very aware of what it means to be physically active. If you are not sure then Sports Coach UK designed a really useful infographic, which looks at physical activity and how a coach can help.

Reducing inactivity infographic

I make sure to build certain characteristics into my sessions to try and assure my group that they will see  the benefits of sustaining an active lifestyle.

I used the infographic to reflect on my own practise as a coach. I learnt a few extra bits and here are a few tactics I’ve employed to try and make my sessions as active as possible and to help people create active behaviours that will last for a lifetime:

  1. Lampposts are a coach’s best friend – for new runners the idea of continuous activity is a real barrier, as it seems such a huge leap from where they are starting from – usually walking. Using a focal point such as a lamppost is a great way to break up activity into manageable chunks.

  2. Give it a go - I try to develop confidence of my runners during sessions to help them to be able to go it alone. Giving them independence during the session works really well, for running it can be as simple as dropping back from the group to give them a flavour of being solo or even setting up leaderless routes in advance. To me it’s about helping them learn from experiences with you there to support them - often this leads to some great ‘How?’ questions from my runners.

  3. Come back and tell us all about it – I hear lots of great suggestions from my runners about other activities to try, often linked with the question: ’Would this be good?’ Linked to building confidence and helping to build group cohesion, I often ask, “Why don’t you give it a go and come back to tell us about it?”

  4. Trash TV Talk I would definitely describe my group as social, by definition, we talk a lot. Normally about the latest ’Secret Housewives of…’, or ’The Only Way is…’, series. I employ this tactic intentionally, as weaved between the gossip are clues to how active people have been since I last saw them. I use this to frame the advice or support I give to different people.

  5. Talk Test – A moderate level of intensity is what I am ultimately aiming for with my group. Talking in whole sentences with little, if any change from normal suggests activity is Light. Starting to breath deeper but able to hold a conversation give a clue of Moderate. Talking in short phrases or single words between breathes suggests vigorous activity.

What tactics do you use as a coach to help people create health benefiting active behaviours? This conversation is one I would love to continue so please do leave a comment below or get in touch with me via twitter: @CraigABlain When tweeting use #PhysicalActivityInfographic

Next Steps

Sports Coach UK has some Physical Activity pages on their website aiming to provide you with access to the latest guidance, information, and training opportunities to ensure you understand the challenges of engaging the inactive. Find out more.

You might also be interested in the ConnectedCoaches blog: Learning behaviour change strategies will ensure your athletes keep coming back for more . In the blog Tennis Activator and ConnectedCoaches member Suzzi Garnett discusses how the tactics she learnt on the Sports Coach UK Behaviour Change Tactics workshop have boosted her drive to get people of all ages playing tennis.

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Comments (1)


Hi, I look at the threads everyday but this is my first comment - your post really hit my concerns in running coaching on the head. I coach running in an all ability, all inclusive club. I to take on board the list of useful tools that u use - everyone likes lamppost drills
At my club I offer ability set groups so athletes don't feel pressured by faster or stronger runners, this also allows everyone to get an appropriate workout. I do however often mix up the training and bring all the groups together with sessions such as laps where glo bracelets are given out with each lap then they have in individual challange as well as a team goal, or we hit the sandy beach and have a session of team games - this gets everyone chatting and mixing with new friends and really helps form the social side to our club.
When I run a 10 week FUNdamental running course I rotate my athletes as helpers each week so they can motivate and tell the beginners their own running story this gives the beginners that light and end of tunnel feeling.
The social side is important to me too, for example we meet at a local pub, go have our rural run then all have a light meal and again gets everyone feeling part of a team.
I love watching our athletes enjoy their time at our club and it goes hand in hand with improvement, progression and good results. If your athletes and leaders/coaches enjoy their club time they will want to come back and it soon becomes a habit which can only be good for health both physical and mental.
For me as a coach it's all about the fun x

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Hi Samantha Miller Welcome! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts, and I am glad that my words were of help to you. As coaches, I feel it is vitally important to share our experiences and help each other grow and develop through informal learning and collaboration, just like how this blog has allowed. Let's hope this is the first of many posts you will make in Connected Coaches.

I hope that the Reducing Physical Inactivity infographic helps to give some insight into the fundamentals to consider when trying to support people to create and sustain active behaviours for those least active. Providing a warm welcome is essential, but what would you say is a coaching MUST when welcoming people to your group for the first time?

Ps. I love the sound of your glow-bracelet idea, which is the exact type of activity I would expect to see, given your coaching philosophy of FUN!

Keep an eye out on here for more blogs from me or you can find me on twitter @CraigABlain


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