Day 3 of the CiRF course complete

Having now led 5 coached sessions and 2 club sessions, I’m getting the hang of this coaching lark. Did I mention that I’m loving it?!

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Coach in Running Fitness (CiRF) course is spread over several months with days 1 and 2 on the first weekend. Day 3 is then normally 5 weeks later and then the final assessment day about 6 months after that. 

I attended day 3 on Saturday. It was held at the Ageeas Bowl in Hedge End and as it was an all-day event from 9 until 5pm, it meant that I wasn’t able to coach my ‘normal’ Saturday session nor attend parkrun. I was more gutted about the coaching if I’m honest. 

The course still had the 14 attendees from days 1 and 2 as well as a newbie to the group, Paul, who’d joined after completing days 1 and 2 elsewhere. 

Simon Mennell was our main instructor again and was joined by Ana as Barry was recouperating from a hip replacement operation. 

Day 3 consisted of a similar structure to days 1 and 2 and covered both theory and practical sessions. 

Topics included:

  1. The energy systems (alactic, lactic and aerobic) 
  2. Designing mesocycles
  3. Planning sessions
  4. Nutrition
  5. Running drills

The practical sessions focused again on session delivery and also observation, analysis, feedback and intervention. 

I’m not sure we learned a great deal more than we already knew but it was good to have the opportunity to be assessed by the instructors and also ask questions. 

If I were being critical, I’d say that the instructions on designing mesocycles and microcycles are too vague and we need much more guidance on this. The course is structured so these topics fall at the end of the day when brains have turned into mush and the sessions are being rushed due to the fast-approaching home time. I think that I’ll be relying heavily on my Support Coach, Carol, for advice here. 

The practicals were good and I had the opportunity to deliver a cooldown. I wanted to hit a couple of ‘how2’ goals of delivering 1-2 key points per stretch and silent demos but again developed a bad case of chattiness. Fortunately, Simon was happy to impart advice and reminded me that it was best to:

  • Introduce the stretch
  • Mention 1 or 2 key points about correct form
  • Demo it silently from 1 or 2 angles 
  • Let the group do it 
  • Observe, analyse and feedback as necessary

Given that we do lots of stretches, I think that in normal sessions that you would do this for a couple of stretches and then just get the group to stretch without silent demos for the rest. 

The course isn’t too heavy on theory but this is one area I’m struggling a little with in particular the energy systems and which session types target which energy systems. It certainly became clearer in day 3 but this is something I need to work on. 

Passing the course seems both cHallenging and straightforward. Let me explain… 

We’ve been taught all the theory we need to know and provided the details of how we should coach and also been given opportunity to use those skills. We now have about 5 1/2 months to make sure we know the theory, pass a multiple choice exam and then pass assessment day at the end of September where we will be expected to deliver part of a session based on a complete session plan we’ve decided. We’ll also be expected to have developed a mesocycle (an 8-week plan) for our ‘Guinea pig’ athlete that demonstrates:

and focuses on the athlete achieving a SMART fitness process goal (as opposed to an outcome goal) where SMART is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

The mesocycle must be one that has been used with the guinea pig athlete as, during assessment, we’re expected to discuss how well the 8 weeks went and whether the goal was attained. 

I’m glad I now have 5-6 months before assessment day. I plan to hold 15-20 coached sessions during that period to really give me opportunity to develop my coaching skills. I also plan to work with my Support Coach to build 3 8-week mesocycles and deliver at least 2 of those and be most of the way through the 3rd. I also want to gain more knowledge of anatomy related to running and bodyweight strength and conditioning exercises and also the energy systems and how these can be trained. 

Lots to do!

In other news, it’s time to get back and running. Most of my target events for 2016 have now either been missed due to injury or lack of fitness due to recovery (and weight gain due to lack of training and lack of control in the company of tempting food). 

I’ve got two events booked and paid for:

  • Lordshill 10k
  • New Forest Half Marathon

I ran the LRR10k the year after I started running and, if I’m honest, didn’t enjoy it much as it was so hot and I wasn’t really fit. Having been a member of Lordshill for 3-4 years, I’ve been unable to run the event but have been Race Director for the event for a couple of years (2014 and 2015). As an active Run Leader, a ‘perk’ of the role is being able to run our own event as long as we pay for the entry fee. I’m hoping that the encouragement from fellow club members will help me around. I’m sure it’ll be a challenge but I have 11 weeks to get fit. 

I’m taking a break of about 4 months from Run Directing at Southampton junior parkrun. There are a number of reasons for this including my coaching commitment, wanting the occasional lie-in, wanting some more family time and giving the rest of the team more opportunity to manage the event. I’m also helping set up a new junior parkrun so it’ll give me more flexibility to be available for their event in May/June. I do still plan to volunteer regularly and hope that the boys will start running at the event more often. 

That’s all for now. 

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