Here at England Athletics we like to find out what makes our coaches tick, so we caught up with Kerry Newell and Hayley Hemmings to learn about their endurance coaching journey and the advice they’d give to new coaches.
How did you get into coaching?
Kerry: I always ran for a club as a teenager, falling out of it in my late teens, to start running again in my early 20s with friends encouraging them to run too far! One friend saw a course advertised that might help me to coach others rather than nagging them all the time, so I attended the Leadership in Running Fitness course. Then started up a ladies jogging group 15 years ago and it grew from there!
Hayley: I really enjoyed athletics when I was younger competing at school. I then got glandular fever and instead of competing I wanted to give part to the sport so did my coaching qualifications so I could still be part of the club setting. I then continued to coach through teaching at school and alongside my own running.
Has becoming a coach helped your understanding of the sport?
Kerry: Completely! Having sets and reps as a teenager, I didn’t really think too much about what I was doing. I just ran! As a coach now my understanding of the 800m race is completely different, the process of putting together sessions and individualisation of it for each athlete plus then adapting on the spot to the needs of each runner, along with tactics of the event has given me a hugely different perspective on the sport.
Hayley: Coaching has allowed me to understand all the different levels of the sport from grass root school and club setting to national Championships. It has enabled me to share knowledge with other coaches and other disciplines and how the sport can have a positive impact on other sports.
What advice would you give to people looking to get into endurance coaching?
Kerry: I would start by asking to volunteer at a local club with an endurance coach, ask to help out with timings or warm up and cooldowns. Coaches always need a hand!
Hayley: DO IT! Since the pandemic more and more people are running, with more people out on the street, parks and tracks taking part we also need the same growth with coaches who are passionate about the discipline, interested in encouraging and improving others, and most importantly ready to listen and be open minded to the wonderful world on putting one foot in front of the other.
Do you have a favourite story from coaching?
Hayley: Coaching has connected me with some many people of all ages, abilities and ambitions. I couldn’t do what half my athletes have achieved but I made them believe In themselves when they didn’t. As coaches this is our job but even better when it pays off… If you think you can’t think again or find someone who can remind you, you can.
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