My Name Is John
In case you are just wondering what qualifies me to coach you/give your running advice, here are the bullet points:
– NCAA Division 1 All-American Distance Runner
– PRs: 14:27 5k*, 29:26 10k, 106:10 1/2 marathon
I don’t say those things to brag, because what really qualifies me is:
– Countless hours working with, training with, and being coached by Olympians and coaches of Olympians (people who are way faster than me.)
Now, For Those Who Want My Full Story
I will keep this pretty brief as well, because I value your time
The first question people always have for me is this: “Can you relate to me?”
I am, by no means, a “great” runner, but I acknowledge that I am better than the “average” runner (it’s a good thing, because it has given me the opportunity to gain knowledge that I can pass along to you.) Because of my “elite” status people wonder if I can really help them. they wonder if I can relate to the “average” runner (there are really no “average” runners – I’ll get to that in a second.)
The answer is simple: “yes.”
Let me explain . . .
I started running in 2006 as a sophomore in high school. Like most distance runners, running was not my first choice (until I was 15, I was convinced that I was going to be a major league baseball player.) The reason I started running was because I had tried track in eighth grade, and I had shown some “promise” in the mile.
In my brash, 15-year-old mind running was lucky to have me. I was gracing the sport with my presence, and it return it would provide me with a full-ride scholarship to the college of my choice.
I had a rude awakening in my first workout – I was glaringly average.
Even on my own mediocre team I was in the middle of the pack – not to mention my standing (or lack thereof) in the relatively non-competitive state of Idaho.
I spent that entire year fighting to remain “average.” I maintained an “average” standing on my team. I had an “average” finish at our district meet, and achieved an “average” finish at the state meet.
Do you see what happened there?
If not that is OK, we’ll get to it.
I improved over the course of my high school career and became one of the better runners in the state. I also started working at my local running store where I spent everyday meeting and talking to “average,” everyday runners.
I dove into studying running. I learned everything I could from my coach (who had been a good college runner himself.) I also learned everything I could about running shoes and gear. I picked every brain I could and read every book I could about how to train everyone from the beginner runner to the best runner in the world. Basically, I started living and breathing running (and I have been doing that for the last ten years.)
Even with my wealth of information I remained an average runner on the national level. When it came time to be recruited, I ended up signing a scholarship agreement with a school that was just slightly above average in the world of division 1 NCAA track and field and cross country.
When I got to college I was not average . . . I was below average. In fact, I was one of the worst runners on the team.
I am taking a long time to tell this story, so I will get to it. I continued to work hard and learn everything I could. I eventually became a top-level competitor in the NCAA.
I continued to learn everything I could, but now I had the opportunity to learn from my coach (a former world championship competitor in the marathon, and coach of a 2008 US Olympian,) and a former athlete from my school who had made the Olympic team and multiple World Championships teams.
Are you seeing what is happening yet?
The Realization . . .
I got fast enough to compete “professionally” after college (I am still competing professionally in some capacity.) As a professional runner I got the opportunity to meet and learn from several world-class coaches and athletes.
In fact, I am currently in a training group with a 2016 US Olympian in the marathon. We are coached by a multiple-time Olympic marathoner.
However . . . I still see myself as average. There are a lot of runners who are better than me, and some that are A LOT better than me.
I was recently thinking about my status as a runner when I made a realization.
Here is the truth: NOBODY IS AN AVERAGE RUNNER . . . yet everyone is.
“Average” changes. Basically every runner considers themselves “a beginner” (a title that can be measured by time spent in the sport,) or some degree of “average.” Even very high level runners acknowledge that they are in the top 1% of all runners. However, they are still on a continuum of “average.” Very few of them say, “I am a great runner.” They say, “I am good.” But, mostly they say, “I am getting better.”
Read that again, because that is the key to running.
“I am getting better.”
When I made this realization I realized I could relate to any runner. I could relate to a beginner, an “average” runner, an elite runner . . . anyone.
There is one thing that draws every runner to the sport – they want to be better.
What better way to get better than by participating in a sport that gives you a black-and-white objective measurement of your current status. What better way to challenge yourself and push yourself to achieve something greater than by participating in a sport where the only thing you have to rely on, and, ironically, your only limitation are your own two feet.
So the answer is “yes, I can relate to the average runner.” I can relate to any runner – I am every runner. The same thing drives me. The same thing is at my core. It’s not a drive to beat the competition, it’s a drive to beat myself.
Over the years I have been lucky to learn, from the best athletes and coaches in the world, how to beat myself. I would love to pass that information along to you!
So, I am trying a little experiment. If you click this link you can email me directly. Write two or three sentences about your next big running goal, and I will respond personally and give you a roadmap to achieve it.
Here’s to self-betterment!
Runners On The Go Head Coach