Today was my third time coaching the Fleshman Flyers, the Thursday night recreational group here in Eugene that I took over from my friend Stephanie.  Something crazy happened today: I realized I loved it.

I definitely liked it before, but today I was buzzing during and after for a good 2 hours.  There was something so rewarding about encouraging 20 people towards solid workout performances.  As the workout progressed, I could feel that I was affecting them positively with my presence and instruction; it showed in the results as well as in their looks of satisfaction when it was all done.

When you tell people you are a professional runner (like strangers on an airplane,) they generally start out confused and after a few obligatory questions about sport they ask you, “so what do you plan to do after you are done running?  Will you coach?”  I have always said, “no way.  I won’t have time with my family and all that, and I’m not interested anyway.”  And I guess I meant it when I said it.  But then again, I had never tried it before.  Now that I’ve given it a shot, I can easily imagine doing it in some capacity in the future.

In what capacity?  Well, coaching enthusiastic recreational athletes is awesome so far.  I respect people who have jobs and manage to fit in running on a regular basis.  That is how I aspire to be when I “get a real job.”  Recreational athletes who are willing to put themselves out there for a tough workout once or twice a week…that is even cooler, and that is where a coach can really help enhance the experience.  I think many recreational athletes think they wouldn’t benefit from a coach, mainly because they don’t have crazy-specific goals for racing.  But what I’m learning is that a coach can help athletes push themselves for the sake of the challenge.  Independent of past experience or future plans, each workout is an exercise in the present where you are encouraged to dig beyond what’s comfortable to get a glimpse of what’s possible.