How I went from couch to coach

How I went from couch to coach

from couch to coach
As this is my spotlight day for Kristy’s Runaway Bridal Planner Blog Hop I thought I’d write about how I went from someone who never ran to a qualified running coach in the space of less than 3 years. If you want to know a little bit more about me you can read my previous spotlight post here.

How I went from couch to coach in less than 3 years! #running #coaching Click To Tweet

I only started running in order to get a bit fitter. Before that I had no history of running. I wasn’t a runner at school, in fact PE was my least favourite subject. I used to see people running on the streets and think they were mad, especially those crazy enough to go running early morning on a weekend! So when I downloaded the start to run app back in January 2014 I had no idea how the bug was going to get me.

Fast forward to May 2015 and I had taken my first steps into coaching by completing the UK Athletics Leader in Running Fitness qualification. I would never have thought I’d be doing that when I set off on my first walk/run session! But in the 17 months between starting to run and my LiRF I had realised that not only did I enjoy running but I also enjoyed getting other people running and helping to keep them running.

It started with my mum. A few weeks after I started to run I had inspired her to give it a go too. Soon enough we were planning our first 5k, then 10k race together.

After my mum I managed to get friends and work colleagues running and then volunteered as a helper at my club’s Start to Run course. I loved seeing people develop as they went from not running at all to running 5k and more. Develop not only their fitness levels and endurance but also their confidence.  In the Start to Run course I saw people who doubted their ability to run at all in week 1 only to run a 5k 7 weeks later in under 38 minutes.

As a Leader I could help the group as they ran but I soon realised I wanted to do more than that. I wanted to get personal.

cool down stretches
Demonstrating cool down stretches

Being a Coach allows you to work with individuals, creating personal training plans to help them become better runners and get right down to the nitty gritty and mechanics of running. Being able to work with someone on the basic skills you need for running, but which are often overlooked and may seem a world away from running itself, and see them improve little by little.

However, as a Coach you don’t always coach one to one, more often it’s in a group, but the individual is always at the centre. With the UK Athletics Coach in Running Fitness qualification you are taught to be athlete centred: to think of the athlete, how they develop, how they learn. Coaching isn’t about you the coach: you don’t bark orders, believe you are always right, ignore what your athletes are telling you. It’s about the individual, the person you are training, and how to get them to be the best they can.

I think this quote from Reach into Coaching sums it up nicely

Coaching is about helping people of all ages and abilities to get active, stay active and get better while being active.

Having recently qualified I’m just at the start of my coaching career but so far have coached people to their first marathon, half marathon and to become stronger runners. And as a qualified coach I know that my development doesn’t stop here, that I too will be constantly learning and improving as I go, which is also really exciting.

It’s been an unexpected journey but I’m really looking forward to working with more people at different stages of their running and seeing them become the best they can be.

Do you coach or have you ever thought about coaching? Do you have an achievement that has surprised you?

I’m linking up with for Running Coaches’ Corner with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs where running coaches come together and share the best running advice, tips, trends, etc.


  • Karien Potgieter

    I love reading other people’s running stories – isn’t it amazing how many places running can take you?! All the best with your coaching career!

    • Thank you! Running definitely takes you in more directions than you think it will!

  • That’s awesome that you are a running coach! I received my nutrition coach certification and am still trying to figure out where I want that to fit in my life (I have a full time job that I really enjoy). For now I am having fun with a Facebook group and occasional group classes.

    • I’ve joined your Facebook group! I really like how you have created a community of your readers there.

  • Chaitali Shah

    Thanks for sharing your journey 🙂 I was the same way when I was younger, absolutely hated PE! That’s cool that you’ve started coaching others with running now. I love that philosophy of being athlete centered.

    • It’s a great philosophy and just makes sense!

  • Wow, that’s awesome that the running but had such an impact! I love working with a running coach and do aspire to become one one day. I too enjoy encouraging others to run and reach their potential. Great getting to know you better!

    • I really enjoy working with people in that way. You should definitely look into training to be a coach if you are already thinking about it!

  • Mandie Mutchie

    Wow, it sounds like your transformation was really organic – that’s awesome! I am with you on also hating PE in school, but now I am a coach too – but not running – Beachbody! I still am not a runner, which makes this blog hop interesting for me since so many people seem to be! But I have a huge respect for runners since that’s so hard for me! That’s awesome that you were able to get your mom involved and help her too – I can see that you’re going to impact a lot of people very positively!

    • Thank you. Isn’t it funny how we’re now doing something that our teenaged selves would have balked at!

  • Thank you for sharing your journey! I always find it inspiring to hear about other people’s transformations and pursuits. Coaches really are special and important people.

    • Thank you. Have you written about why you started coaching?

  • I love how you got your mom into running, and the two of you did it together.
    Also, that you put the focus on the other person, and remember it’s not about the coach. Great insights that can go beyond coaching!

    • It’s been great to have my mum running with me. Since doing the coaching course I’ve definitely seen how the insights can help my non-coaching life too.

  • PE was my least favorite subject in school too; I never understood the point of it. When I started my journey in 2013 I had no idea that I’d find my passion and purpose in coaching either.

    • I was definitely the person with her head in a book. PE just wasn’t my thing!

      Isn’t it funny how one small change can have so much impace!

  • Roaring Mama Lion

    I haven’t found a coach yet…or really even an accountability group. I’ve found that the running groups in my area don’t really support runners at my level (I don’t take it seriously enough); so, I find myself in this weird “in between” with little to no support. BUT that’s no excuse. I can be my own coach ;). I love that you are out there inspiring others to get and stay active!

    • That’s such a shame about the groups in your area. I’ve heard that some running groups can be a bit snobby but I’ve been lucky that I’ve not encountered that attitude.

      You’ve got me thinking about maybe setting up an online running group!

  • I’m not a coach, but a small part of me has always been interested in the idea of becoming one. I have many times through the years unofficially coached many friends from being non-runners to 5k’s to half marathons and as many of the things you listed above, I just found so much reward in watching them have success no matter how great or little their accomplishments. It’s a rewarding career you are in for sure! Stressful at times I would imagine, but rewarding overall!! Thanks for joining in the hop with us!

    • It’s very rewarding getting friends running. If only for the shellfish reason of having more running buddies!

  • I love your story! Like you, I hated PE in school, mainly because I was not one of the fast runners, nor was i very athletic-inclined or capable. It wasn’t until many years later, that I started running. I didn’t want to lose weight, but I did want to get in better shape and tone up. I have my 6th marathon happening soon, and have been working with a coach for the first time….so, there have been lots of things in this training cycle I have never done before, and it’s been a fun ride.

    • Have you seen a difference in your running this cycle?

      I do sometimes wonder what could have been done at school to make PE more appealing to me! I know a lot of people who were put off from sports or activity from school.

  • Madhuri

    Was inspired after reading your story. I was exactly like you – hated PE as a kid. Running came into my life in 2015 and only this year have I started loving it. I keep threatening my coach as a joke that beware, I might become a coach one day and steal all your clients. At the moment, he seems pretty confident that it ain’t happening. Haha!

    • Well, never say never!

      It’s great that you’re now enjoying running. It can take a while for it to stop being a chore!

  • Lacey@fairytalesandfitness

    I always thought it would be fun to coach Girls on the Run but the timing never worked out. Maybe one of these seasons.

    • I had to look up Girls on the Run. What a great organisation! I hope the timings work out so you can get involved.

  • De Bolton

    So inspiring! I am currently studying to get my degree in Fitness and Exercise Science and ultimately want to coach for the very same reasons. I am so glad that you found a passion to inspire and motivate others too.

    • That must be really interesting. I’m finding myself reading more research based articles and working out the why behind the things we do.

  • lisarunsforcupcakes

    I’ve often thought about getting into coaching. There is nothing more satisfying than getting someone hooked on running! I would love to take a course if I found the right opportunity and timing.

    • I hope you find one. I was really lucky with the timings and location for my course.

  • Elizabeth

    In middle school Fridays was “torture day”, we had a mandatory 20 minute run lol. So PE was my least favorite subject. Finishing a marathon was not something I ever thought I could do but I did. 🙂 I’ve never thought about coaching but I did briefly consider volunteering to be a Girls on the Run coach but sometimes the circumstances aren’t the right ones. Hopefully soon though.

    • I think younger me would have agreed with you on that description!

      The Girls on the Run programme sounds really good. Perhaps if there had been one of those when I grew up I might have been running sonner! Let’s hope the timings work out so you can volunteer.

  • Lauren

    That is so great you are a running coach! I think your story probably makes me so relatable to your clients! It is great to meet you through the blog hop- I am a running coach too!

    • Thanks for saying that. I hope it will help some people!

  • Runwright

    I’m sure having your mom run with you helped get over that hump in the beginning. My mom is my biggest supporter too.
    Great to meet you in the blog hop and I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    • It did. She was my guinea pig during training as well!

  • Allyson C Brandt

    What a great story! I’m still on my own running journey, so I don’t know if I’m ready to jump into coaching quite yet. It’s great that your mom runs with you!

    • I really enjoy running with her. Hope you continue to enjoy your running as well!

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