I am a coach committed to running for a life-time. I have travelled through most of the career-stages of running – from naive novice to hardened competitor to bitter broken runner. My journey away from the latter stage began when a coach fundamentally shook the cultural ideals I held about my running and training for running. At that moment began the realisation that to be our best our thoughts must be aligned with the physical that govern us and that our thoughts are formed by our culture. I knew then I had a job for life: help create a better running culture consistent with an accurate understanding of the laws of physics.
Born in a small border-town in the middle of nowhere on the windswept plains of Jutland my journey took me over the large (and now trendy) University town of Aarhus to Sunderland in North East England before finally settling where my Viking ancestors harrowed – in the beautiful Wicklow Mountains of Ireland. Taught to run as a kid by my dad, my passion was reborn in the sport of Mountain Running before later taking to track, road and cross-country and competing – with much will but little talent – on distances from 1500m to 50 miles. My story as an athlete is not over, despite advancing years, but my first duty is now to those I coach and only then to myself and my own goals.
My credentials are manifold: I began my teaching life as a corporate trainer for one of the world’s largest IT companies. My athletic education began in books and I took my first ‘official’ course with UK Athletics as a ‘Fell and Mountain Running’ coach. In 2011, I was invited to the first Lydiard Invitational Seminar to be accredited as a ‘Lydiard Foundation’ coach and later a coach within Athletics Ireland – my adopted country. I served a long apprenticeship learning ‘on the ground’ from several coaches and educated myself as a BTR Certified coach specialising in Running Technique. I have broadened my base to the greater field of human movement through education in MovNat and FMS and a workshop with the forward-thinking movement coach Ido Portal. My greatest teacher, however, has been my own repeated failures – which eventually exhausted the knowledge of all my teachers – and forced me to seek answers where none could be found in books, from coaches or the internet.
My writing can be found in numerous publications including Athletics Illustrated, Mud, Sweat and Tears and Irish Runner Magazine and I have appeared on national radio in Ireland on several occasions. The format does not really matter, my goal is to educate and to learn – both of which are life-long reciprocal processes. I have trained, educated and worked with almost 1,000 athletes in the past decade
I do not hold all the other answers – a quality that puts me in the same boat as everyone else – but I have encountered enough pit-falls in myself and other athletes to speak with authority about where our culture is broken. My experience as an MsC and education in research methods has allowed me to critically assess information from many sources. My view, as will be clear here, is that the arrow of knowledge points from practice towards research not the other way around. Our research must be guided by practice and experience much less the other way around. This tenet will become evident as we explore the cultural development of running coaching where methods have been driven by practitioners leading from the front lines. A certain reversal of this happened in the last 30 years and we will explore the effects of this as part of the narrative here.
Contributions from a desire to learn and edge closer to ‘the truth’, if such a thing exists, will be the life-blood of this site and will be welcomed. I wish an educated journey.