I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the difference between coaches and athletes. And also about how fast athletes are often great, but you don’t have to be fast to be great. It’s easy to allow imposter complex to get to you:

“I’m not a real runner because . . .” or even “I’m not fit to coach someone that’s faster than me” but once you dig down into that, it’s just not true. The things that make someone a great athlete, won’t necessarily make them a great coach. Because when you are a coach, it’s not about you. It’s about being someone’s belief system, when their own has lost it’s way. It’s about putting a context on outcomes that allow achievements to shine. It’s about being able to look at things from the outside and provide direction. And if you think about the fastest atheletes in the world, all of their coaches are slower than they are.

And these are the things that I hold close to my heart with Learn to Run.

It’s so easy to think it’s so simple. You just get out and run. But it’s not simple and it’s not easy. For some (or most) of us it’s a revolutionary step. And it takes real guts and bravery. It takes a whole lot to get out there and say I deserve this, I am going to be visible and I am going to take up space. Because you know in the process you are taking on all manner of expectations of what women are allowed to look like or be like. Because we all know we aren’t supposed to look unattractive, or red, or sweat. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that you should never not do something because of a fear of how you might look to someone else. But even though you know that, it is a great force of will that propels you out the door.

And when I think about my life as a coach, those are my proudest moments. When someone who is so deeply unaware of what they are capable of and so embarrassed by their body and so scared of what others might think, finds some drive within them and they take that step and I make sure they keep taking those steps until they find themselves. And they challenge expectations and they push past fear and eventually they see what I can see from the outside Рthat there is absolutely no limit to what they can do.

I know that because I was terrified to walk out the door. I was terrified in the gym. I was terrified running outside. I avoided eye contact, because it was so confronting to be so visible. But I did it. And I think as a coach that was my most valuable experience to know that when people go out on their first run, that is a really big deal. It’s not small, it’s not inconsequential – it’s a dazzling show of strength.

Coaching isn’t about speed, it’s about the ability to really see someone. And that’s what I do. I see you.

You can sign up for Learn to Run today with our 12 week coaching course to take you from the person who wants to love running, to the person who does.

Learning to run changed my life and I think it will change yours too. If you are ready, sign up.

If you’d like to read more about Learning to Run, you can check out:

The one question that gets asked the most about Learn to Run

11 Things that Learning to Run will teach you that have nothing to do with running

How to make a diamond

Podcast: How to support a friend who is learning to run

You deserve to take up space

And you can download our participant guide here.

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Zoey Dowling

Written by: Zoey Dowling

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  1. You echo my sentiments exactly Zoey! It is fabulous to see how the participation rates in fun runs and exercise have increased and it is all to do with the acceptance of participation at the person's level and not how well they can earn points for a running club. Love it!

  2. Pingback: Lessons from Finishing Last | Operation Move August 1, 2016

    […] a whole lot of bravery to walk out that door and start running. Outside. Where people can see you. It’s a really big deal. Starting says something about you – how many minutes or hours doesn’t say much of […]