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Run England Blog: Fully-Qualified Athletics Coach

Since writing my last Run England blog, I’m thrilled to be able to call myself a fully-qualified Athletics Coach, having passed the final assessment of British Athletics’ flagship coaching award.

But this award is really only the first step in what I intend to be a lifelong coaching journey. Coaches should never stop learning, and however accomplished you become as a coach, there is always room for improvement.

Looking back over my coach education journey takes me back to the Leadership in Running Fitness (LiRF) course which I completed a year ago. This one-day course equips you with the skills and tools you need to start and lead a running group. You might think coaching is all about setting training sessions. But this course opened my eyes to what coaching is really about – motivating, inspiring, supporting, empowering, and communicating with people, so that they get the very best out of themselves, and can deliver great performances when it matters. But wait a minute! What if a typical workplace had a culture based on these attributes, and the people working there were delivering their best every day? Wouldn’t it be a very productive, efficient, and enjoyable place to work?

Enter workplace running groups! There are so many potential benefits to be had from a running group based at a workplace – meeting colleagues who you might otherwise never see; breaking up the working day and refreshing yourself; making your brain work better through exercising in the fresh air; and building team-work, to name just a few. It really is a simple way of helping people to enjoy running, but also to get more out of themselves at work. And there are clear benefits for employers too, such as a more productive and motivated workforce, saving on employee health insurance costs, and building a reputation as a good employer. So why not start a running group at your workplace? If you think this is a good idea but are unsure where to start, then attending the LiRF course is the first step to take.

The UK’s mapping agency, Ordnance Survey, has a terrific staff running group based at their new offices in Southampton. During my recent visit to meet them, I was taken aback by the enthusiasm, size, and positive can-do attitude of this workplace running group. It is a great model of a thriving, successful group, which other workplaces could certainly learn from and emulate. This group started off with its organiser, Viv Alexander, attending the LiRF course and using what she learned to launch the group. Click here to read more about the Ordnance Survey running group.

Workplace running groups have so much potential for getting more of us out running, and enjoying the many health benefits it brings. So England Athletics will rightly be focusing in 2015 on promoting them, offering tips and advice about how to launch a group. And remember, combining work with running is not as challenging as it might seem – have a look back at my August blog to find out more.

Click here to find out more about setting up a workplace running programme.

Mara Yamauchi is a retired British marathon runner with a personal best of 2:23:12 set in the 2009 London Marathon, a time which ranks her as the 2nd fastest British female marathon runner ever. Mara is also a qualified Run England group leader and Athletics Coach.

Photos courtesy of Ordnance Survey (top left) and Christine Benning (right)

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