How does online running coaching work? Runner Spotlight on Shathiso

How does online running coaching work? Runner Spotlight on Shathiso

Online coaching spotlight - Shathiso

As this week (4 – 10 June) is UK Coaching Week I am shining the spotlight one of my runners who I have been coaching for over a year.

I first ‘met’ Shathiso last year as a reader of her blog The Gaborone Runner where she was writing about her big goal of running 17 races in 2017 as a very new runner. Her blog is very honest about her journey and her enthusiasm is very infectious! It is a recommended read.

I started coaching her during her 17 in 17 challenge and have been honoured to coach her as she develops and improves as a runner. But rather than me tell you about her, here is her coaching story…

Spotlight on Shathiso, The Gaborone Runner

Introduce yourself

My name is Shathiso and I live in Gaborone, Botswana. I trained as a Health Psychologist but most of my career has been in management consulting, specifically conducting Assessment Centres for staff recruitment and development purposes. I’m also a Coach focusing on multiple areas – lifestyle, business, and health and wellness. I married my best friend and we have two amazing kids.

What’s your running background?

When I was at school, I did everything I could to escape running. My mum tells me I even once got her to get a note from the Doctor that I was too sick to participate in a cross-country event [RH note: similar story to me!]. After having two kids, I really struggled to get fit and I felt that running was cheap, flexible and something I could squeeze into my crazy work and family schedule. But typical of me, I couldn’t run for the sake of running. I needed to have some big goal that would keep me running. So I decided to run 17 races in 2017. After the first few races, I was hooked and a few weeks ago I ran my first Half Marathon.

After having two kids, I really struggled to get fit and I felt that running was cheap, flexible and something I could squeeze into my crazy work and family schedule.

What made you look for a running coach?

Running was so foreign to me and my goal of running 17 races was huge and oftentimes intimidating. I struggled to find a plan online that I felt would help me get through all the races and also make me a better runner. I kept on thinking “If I am going to run 17 races, I better do it properly”. Then when I set my eyes on a Half Marathon, I immediately knew who to contact with my crazy idea!

I struggled to find a plan online that I felt would help me get through all the races and also make me a better runner.

What was the process of starting coaching with me like? What sort of questions did I ask, how quickly did you get your plan?

It was so easy. I remember sending an email and getting a quick, professional and friendly response back. What struck me immediately was your enthusiasm and excitement to work with me. You sent an athlete profile form which had quite a few questions looking at my running background, what my typical week of training looks like, what I enjoy about running, what I find difficult, and any races I had already done and what was next on my schedule. It was really thorough. Once I had sent it back, it wasn’t too long before I got my training plan using Final Surge which was an amazing tool.

What struck me immediately was your enthusiasm and excitement to work with me.

What did a typical training week look like? How did this fit into your non-running life?

As you had sought so much information from the start, the training plan fitted really well into my life. I usually had about 3 runs – 1 easy and then a mix of Tempo, Hills, Fartleks, and always a Long Run over the weekend. There were also conditioning exercises for home, as well as gym and pilates classes.

What was your favourite running session?

There were so many I really enjoyed. I think my first Fartlek was the most exciting. I did it with my cousin and we both had so much fun. But the 19k Long Run I did was also incredible. It was the first time I had run that long and the first time I truly believed I had it in me to do a Half Marathon.

Was there a running session that you were nervous about doing? How did you feel once you finished it?

The Fartlek! I actually avoided it the first time it was on the schedule and then coerced my cousin into doing it with me. But probably also my first Hills Run… After completing that, I felt good that I had done it but shocked at how much work I needed to do in terms of my fitness. The last Hills Run I did before the Half Marathon was amazing and really showed how far I had come from that first session.

How well do you think your plan was adapted during the training?

Very well. I had some changes due to work commitments and this year I even had malaria that threw me off for 2 weeks. However, one thing I didn’t have to worry about was my training plan. I lost two weeks but you were able to get me back on track, initially with some easy walking and then easy runs.

When I was down with malaria, you made me feel so calm and confident that we would easily get back on track.

Did you feel supported during your training? How easy was it to contact me if you had questions?

When I was down with malaria, you made me feel so calm and confident that we would easily get back on track. Anytime I had questions, I knew you were just an email away.

Do you feel virtual coaching has improved your running?

Most definitely. I like to think of myself as a “work in progress” but I am definitely a better runner than I was a year ago when we started working together. In fact, I don’t think I saw myself as a runner until I started seeing the effects of following a running plan and being guided by a coach. Even though you were not there physically, it felt like you were always there. All my friends know who Coach Nicola is.

I like to think of myself as a “work in progress” but I am definitely a better runner than I was a year ago when we started working together

Did coaching help you to reach your goal?

Oh yes – for the first goal of finishing 17 races, the coaching gave me a plan, it gave me direction, it improved my form and it gave me the support I needed to finish all those races. For the second goal, the coaching helped me to attain my greatest sporting achievement – a Half Marathon.

What’s your next running goal?

I have already signed up for my next Half Marathon! The Soweto Half in South Africa. But before that I am going to do an Obstacle Course and a couple of 15k races.

Before we met, I was a girl with a wild goal. Running a Half Marathon was never even on my radar. But working with you made me believe that I am a runner.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank you. Thank you for helping me get to this point. Before we met, I was a girl with a wild goal. Running a Half Marathon was never even on my radar. But working with you made me believe that I am a runner. I am not a natural athlete but I just ran a strong and happy Half Marathon. And that’s something.


I’ve really enjoyed coaching Shathiso and I’m looking forward to coaching her to her next goal – that of running a hilly half marathon in South Africa.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss coaching with me please do comment below or contact me. I’d love to talk!

All photos (c) The Gaborone Runner

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