From leading small club sessions to supporting at international events, the contributions of coaches are vital and hold the key to athlete success.
We were lucky enough to speak to former athlete turned coach, Josh Schofield, who used his passion and knowledge in the sport to set up his very own coaching business, PGC-1 Coaching, and also support our athletes on the Youth Talent Programme.
Getting into athletics
Originally a triathlete, Josh stumbled into athletics to try and improve the running section of his race.
“I started out in triathlon aged eight and my running was really suffering. My dad said if you are going to get better at running you need to start training with runners, so I went down to City of York AC in 2009 and never looked back.
“We had the best environment at City of York, it was all about the team. We all had our own pursuits of making ourselves better, but we loved to compete as a team. The positive culture was instilled upon us. We wanted to prove to other clubs how good our team really was.”
The highs of competing for your club and county
Creating such a tight knit community within a training group was something which really transitioned into competition for Josh, with some of his top highlights achieved alongside his teammates.
“One of the best memories I have in athletics was winning the Mansfield National Cross Country Relays, it was an awesome achievement and a real highlight for me.
“As an individual, I was fortunate enough to make 12 out of the 12 English Schools teams which was always an incredible experience. I have also run for England a couple of times and taken part in the London Mini Marathon, representing Yorkshire and Humberside. It is now cool to watch elite athletics where you have the likes of Josh Kerr and Alex Yee racing who I would frequently compete closely against.”
The transition from athlete to coach
For someone who has invested so much into his athletics journey, it was a big decision for Josh to take a step back and help support others.
“I was always really interested in why we did different sessions from a young age. I remember as an U15 talking to my coach, making suggestions and it must have been annoying for him to have a kid telling you what to do.
“I became really interested in performance around sixteen and would watch and read everything I could about athletics. It used to be a bit of a running joke that I would know all the team’s PBs better than they did. When I went to Leeds Beckett University, I realised I wanted to work within elite performance from a scientific side and noticed a real disconnect between the sports science world and coaching.”
Overcoming barriers as a young coach
As a younger coach on the performance scene, it was important for Josh to cement his position.
“When I first started there was a bit of stigma towards my age, that I wasn’t old enough to coach or I hadn’t run to a high enough standard. Moving into coaching was about applying what I knew and letting the results almost speak for themselves. Having recently come through the school and club athletics system I have good first-hand experience of being an athlete and whilst I am younger, I feel like I relate to athletes and what they are going through on their journey.”
High aspirations for the future
Although only at the beginning of his coaching career, Josh has big aspirations for both his coaching business, PGC-1 Coaching, and his own personal development.
“My main goal is to facilitate endurance for the wider market and continue to enable as many people as possible to get involved. At PGC-1 we have a special mindset and community and I want to promote running for both mental and physical wellbeing.”
In addition to his own coaching business, Josh has been supporting the fantastic Jo Wilkinson with the endurance cohort of the Youth Talent Programme.
“On the Talent Programme I assist Jo with the talent days, but also ensure that we are at different championships and races to support the athletes along their journey. Practically, as a sports scientist I love to talk about the physiology of training with athletes on the talent weekends and translating the high science terms into what it means for the athlete, and how they can apply it. Seeing the athletes benefit from my support is really rewarding.
“In the future I hope to follow in Jo’s footsteps and also support England teams internationally as a Team Manager.”