2 min read
04 Dec
Qualifying isn't even the start

When I first had an inkling that I might progress my running from just a hobby into a career pathway I threw myself into gaining the qualifications that would be required to allow me to help others achieve their running ambitions, but I always knew that would just be the start of a very long and continual process to being able to deliver an effective online coaching service.

Over the past few weeks I have started to explore just how that will work in reality, with the help of two athletes (thank you Denise & Leanne) who have very generously agreed to act as test athletes to provide me not only with feedback on the training itself but also on all aspects of the delivery of the plan, from the initial forms that require completing to assessing the training platform that is in use.  It is important to me that, at all stages, the focus remains the athlete and what makes it easier for them to access, complete and ultimately enjoy the whole coaching process and so their support and insight is very much appreciated.  To that end it has been quite a busy week.  In all honesty when I posted a shoe review on my site and decided to leave the site public I hadn't anticipated a pretty much instant response to my call for trial athletes to help me in testing out the various components of delivering the training, it was very welcome, it just caught me a little on the back foot.

So, I guess the purpose of this blog post is just for me to order my thoughts on what has been going on the last week or so, which may also give a bit of insight into what goes on in the background when you sign up to online coaching (at least with me) while recognising that this is all still evolving with the offering very much planned to grow over the next year or so, with everything due to be set up to be ready to take clients on from April of next year.  The interest I have had already has made me question the sense in waiting, but until I am happy that I have a system in place that is of sufficient quality I am not going to offer a coaching service beyond the test athletes.

With a few athletes in place to test everything out, and before I could even think about developing the plans the first thing to deal with was some basic but essential admin.  So first job create the PAR-Q and and athlete questionnaire.  This sounds like a really simple thing but one of the GDPR criteria is that you only ask for information you need in order to provide a good or service so I ended up second guessing every question.  The PAR-Q is needed from a safety and insurance point of view so if you have signed up with a fitness coach elsewhere and they haven't gone through one with you, ask why!  As for the athlete questionnaire, well to develop a plan a coach is going to need to know an awful lot about your fitness history, goals, injuries, what motivates you etc so without this there is no starting point.

With all that in place the fun begins, building a plan.  I bet most athletes have no idea how many variables go into this.  Build a very basic plan from start date to goal date or beyond, periodize the plan, start to put a bit more detail in factoring in all the information from the athlete questionnaire and other known info, then really dialling in the specifics of the most appropriate workouts for the phase of training.  Anyone who knows me will know I can be obsessive about things like this so about 50 drafts later it's ready to load onto the training platform ready for the athlete.

Now I am getting somewhere, the plan is in place and the athletes are ready to go but I am going to need feedback, so more forms and info sheets to create which is easy and straightforward but that feedback needs to be used effectively otherwise you are just wasting the athletes time.  I know the info I need, I know how to interpret it, what I didn't know was how to create the spreadsheets and charts that would display the info in a meaningful manner.  Coaching courses really should teach excel, although I guess the problem is that coaching courses explain the causes, signs and consequences of over training but they don't actually teach how to measure it.  Well, I figured out excel enough to create my own monitoring package so all the stats I ask my athletes for now get fed into it to help inform their training.

So admin is taken care of (2nd drafts in development), plan is delivered and the monitoring tool is all set up. The first week of athlete training is almost finished and both athletes are doing great with communication flowing both ways allowing the plan to be adapted where need be and lots of useful information coming in to help me develop further. 

It's been a productive few weeks I think!