The benefits of a good coach

Simon Freeman posted a blog today entitled ‘A rant about the value of training advice‘, essentially saying that only qualified people should be handing out advice – you can inspire and suggest, but not give specific advice.

Where I think the line needs to be drawn, is when people with no real empirically- or academically-derived knowledge, start writing training plans, offering advice on how to manage injuries or giving direction about nutrition

Simon has prompted me to write a post which I have been meaning to write for a while. The benefits of a good coach. As you know, I was an Inov-8 transition to barefoot athlete and I blogged for them during that period and I think it is one of the best things to have ever happened to me for my fitness. It is where I met SimonRichard and others, who pop up in myTwitter and RSS feed. But also, I met Helen Hall who was the trainer on the course and all round amazing person, including the first lady barefoot Ironman. Now that is a qualification to coach, but so is all of her studying type qualifications.

Before I decided to quit the Brighton marathon I had a training session with her, just me, her and the track.  Wow!  I was having lots of pain when I ran, both during and after and it all felt like such a bloody effort! Apparently as soon as I start running my height dropped about a foot, which meant I was running hunched up, putting more pressure on my knees and ankles. I was also running knocked kneed, which meant that my feet were landing at an awkward angle, meaning my hip joint was twisted and having a lot of impact going through it in the wrong place- not great when they do have a tendency to dislocate if I am not careful. Not to mention my shoulders were practically in my ears – again not great!

She straightened all of that out and got me back to the point where running didn’t feel like such a struggle or cause me quite a lot of pain. Oh, the pleasure of running again without immediate pain!

Part of hypermobility is not having a very good awareness of one’s body, also doing things in a cack handed way – which means that I will stand, take things and generally put my body in weird positions, which is not good for it and not being aware of it. And of course all of these things are generally bad for the hypermobile person – for example rubbish awareness of my body means I am constantly walking into things, but another side effect is bruising very easily and healing very slowly. Not fair really is it?

As such it does mean that I can easily run in a stupid, cack handed way without realising it!

If I could I would have a session with Helen every week, but that is just not possible. None the less I will have quarterly sessions with her to make sure bad habits haven’t crept back in again! Now that I am not doing the marathon I can go back to just enjoying my runs and putting all of Helen’s words into practice, including her shouting ‘non urgent wee’ at me as I run around the track to remind me to engage the pelvic floor!

I would urge everyone to get a good coach to check over their running form, even if it is only occasionally, as Simon says:

And the reason I draw the line here, is that following a poorly thought-out training plan or injury rehab programme or nutrition guide can not just screw up someone’s chances of achieving their goals, it can actually hurt them physically

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