36fe0f011903dd78c63e6aea05eb7319224b1ebfWe interviewed Coach Amanda M. who coaches running, track and field, and triathlon training with CoachUp. Coach Amanda has been running for over 20 years and has completed dozens of marathons and even ultra-marathons ranging in length from 31 to 100 miles. She was coached throughout her career and is a firm believer in private coaching.

Tell us about yourself:

I ran track and field competitively for four years, sprinting as well as middle distance (200m-800m). Later on, I transitioned to marathons and ultra-marathons where I had great success and was ranked 13th internationally for women for 50 miles. I competed in triathlons and duathlons for 5 years and thoroughly enjoyed each one. I am also trained in Total Immersion swimming style.

Why did you decide to become a private coach?

Throughout my competitive career, I sought out the top coaches, physical trainers, dieticians, and formal coaching classes to educate myself. I was always happy to share my knowledge with my teammates and training partners, and I realized that I was happier seeing my fellow athletes’ improvements and successes than my own! It made perfect sense to me to pursue a formal coaching certification, which I have completed.

What do you enjoy most about coaching?

What I enjoy most about coaching is seeing the joy on my athletes’ faces after they have achieved a long term goal while having as much fun as possible!

What can a client expect from private lessons with you?

Athletes can expect a videotaped analysis and assessment of their current running form or swim stroke. I will evaluate their goals and training regimen and help them achieve their goals while remaining healthy and having as much fun as possible! I don’t want my athletes to think of their workouts as chores, and I work with them to customize a training plan to complement the rest of their life.

What is your coaching style or philosophy?

My coaching philosophy is for running, biking or swimming to be fun and help the athlete to be mentally and physically healthy. Athletes’ workouts should not be an added stress to their lives; they should be beneficial and relieve stress! I work hard to be sure that my athletes are injury-free. I plan an athlete’s workout to be challenging but fit into the athlete’s life. Every workout has a purpose and is a piece of the puzzle that brings the athlete closer to their goal!

Who is your favorite coach and why?

I have two favorite coaches. One is basketball coach Phil Jackson. While I do not know him personally, from what I have read about him, he has gained success through truly knowing his athlete’s strengths and weaknesses and incorporating sports psychology as well as physical training sessions into his athlete’s training plans. I agree with Phil that sports are 50% mental and 50% physical. The other coach I greatly admire is Hal Higdon. He is a well known running coach who has motivated thousands of runners to successfully finish their first marathon. Hal is a lot like Phil in believing that mental training is as important as physical training. Hal is very accessible online and has provided personal notes to countless runners, helping them believe they can achieve their goals!

What is your favorite moment in your athletic career?

My favorite moment in my athletic career is the first time I lead a pace team for the Chicago Marathon. Pace Team leaders lead groups of hundreds of runners who all have a common finish time goal. The first group I lead was a group who wanted to finish the marathon in 3:59:59, to break the elusive 4:00 barrier. When my group crossed the finish line just seconds under 4:00, I had dozens of sweaty, ecstatic runners crying tears of joy, all wanting to give me a hug and thank me for helping them to achieve their goal. I told every one of them I should be the one thanking them for allowing me to be a small part of their victory and for allowing me to witness their accomplishment!

Do you have any success stories from coaching an athlete?

One of my favorite stories is of a senior runner (over the age of 60) who had run several marathons. She wanted a new challenge and came to me with the idea of wanting to run a 50 kilometer race (31 miles). I knew she had the perseverance and endurance to handle it. She made it through the training with flying colors, but she was still a little nervous. I had her write on her hand the phrase “relentless forward motion”. She believed in her training and relentlessly moved forward during the race. She finished in plenty of time before the race cut-off, and seeing the smile on her face at the finish line was priceless!

Did you participate in your sport in high school and college (if so, where)?

I did participate in track and field in high school and college in the western suburbs of Chicago. I ran the 200, 400m and 800m and sometimes the 1600m. I was talented in school, and I loved running, but I didn’t fully realize my talent until I was done with school!

What other sports or activities do you enjoy playing or practicing?

I do enjoy playing tennis, golf and soccer. However, like most runners and triathletes, there is a reason I run, bike and swim, and that is because my lack of coordination is no great match for ball sports!

What is your favorite sports related movie?

My very favorite sports related movie is Breaking Away. I saw this movie in high school, after I had been running for a few years. I understood the athlete’s mentality, but I wasn’t quite yet mature enough to understand longer distance events or racing as an adult. This movie is more than just a story of cyclists. I believe it helped me keep my passion for sports well into my adult years!

What’s your mantra or favorite saying (in the context of sport and/ or life)?

My mantra for racing, especially when the competition is tough, is “I can do this, I am strong”. This matra captures all of my positive thinking and helps me to reflect on all of the hard training I have completed which brought me to the starting line of the race. It also helps distract me from any pain I might experience and keeps my mind on my goal!

What team do you root for most enthusiastically? 

I am a HUGE Chicago Bears fan! I will never forget the 1985 football team, they will be in my heart forever. I can and will recite the lyrics to the Superbowl Shuffle on demand!

Do you have any special talents or a surprising thing someone might not know about you?

Early on in grade school, I was a baton twirler. One of my dreams was to twirl the baton in the Olympics, before I realized that it was not an Olympic sport.

Coach Amanda books private running, track and field, and triathlon coaching sessions on CoachUp, and her profile can be viewed here.

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