Coaching is huge. There are apparently 1.3 million sports coaches in the UK, serving over 7 million ‘coachees’.
A recent survey found that 81% of people found that coaching improved their enjoyment of sport, meaning it has real impact across the board – from novices and weekend warriors, to GB athletes.
So, what is coaching actually like?
‘Enabling people to achieve their dreams’
At XNRG, we work to a philosophy of helping our clients to achieve whatever they want from their endurance running, whatever their ability. That encompasses everything from stepping up to a first ultra and crossing that first finish, to refining technique and finishing competitively.
We have a diverse team of coaches with different strengths, so our head coach Andy Mouncey usually starts by chatting to new clients to find the best fit.
Andy says ‘the best training plan is one that sticks’. To stick, it needs to deliver physical and mental improvements, so you’re stronger, have more endurance, and a toughened mental outlook ahead of any target event. But it also needs to be a planfits into your family and work commitments – and be something that enhances your life, rather than becomes a drag.
Clients have told us that the coaching journey towards achieving their ultra-running goals has been a life-changing experience: one that unlocks their true physical and mental depth of character. After all, isn’t that why we compete in endurance events? They push us beyond our self-limiting view of what’s possible and allow us to achieve something really big – something which then has an impact on every facet of life.
Start with ‘why?’
Why? Why? Why, again?
XNRG founder Neil Thubron started coaching me two years ago and really taught me the value of pinning ‘why?’ down. With my own clients, I start by drilling into why someone wants to achieve their goals. Once I’ve fully got their ‘why’, I’ve bought into their journey and I’ll focus everything I can on helping them to get there.
It’s great to be part of the XNRG coaching team. If I don’t have the answer to an issue, one of the others probably will!
The right tools for the job
I like to have an hour-long call or meeting with any new clients to kick-start the process of knowing and understanding one another. I introduce the XNRG Coaching Toolkit – an interactive book we’ll use to structure our sessions – and really get to grips with their ‘why?’ Why do they want coaching? What do they want to achieve? And where are they now? As we get to know each other better, the ‘why’ usually gets deeper – which really drives the coaching relationship.
Arranging a face to face meeting early on helps with that process of getting to know and to understand one another. After all, what we are working with is pretty personal. This for me is what sets XNRG apart. Yes, we cover training schedules – but what really makes us tick is helping you to achieve your goals, based on a really thorough understanding of what’s underneath those goals.
Locating any mines
During our initial calls, I’ll ask about your routines. What do you family and work commitments look like? How much time do you have at your disposal? When will other things need to take priority? If a training plan is to stick it needs to adapt to the priorities and people in your life. When you have a heavy schedule approaching, we’ll plan accordingly; when you have windows of opportunity to push harder then that’s what we’ll do.
Managing two-way expectations
Once we both understand your why, and how much time you can commit to your training, then we can judge what level of expectation is realistic. That’s important for both client and coach. You may need to either alter your timeline or soften your goal if you do not have the time or commitment. It may be that you are not setting your goal high enough, so a different target event might be more suitable. Together, we’ll tweak your goal until it becomes a thoroughly realistic one.
Honesty really is the best policy
Honesty is really important in this whole process. I’m not afraid to ask tough questions and be honest with a client. Similarly, I expect clients to be honest with me in return. If you miss training sessions, just say so. To get the most from coaching, we need to always know what’s realistic in the present to best build for the future.
I hope this provides a window into what it’s like to be coached by me and the team at XNRG. The focus is on improving endurance running, but I also offer business mentoring and 1:1 coaching.