Running with your partner : Or ‘How I got taught the difference between a teacher and a coach’

A man coaches a woman on a stairs session

Bernie and Sophie ably portrayed by these models…

Image credit

Yesterday I went with a run with my girlfriend.

A pretty innocuous statement to make, but this was the first time we had ever run together. In over 2 years of seeing each other…

Sure, Sophie had run before, but she wouldn’t describe herself as a ‘runner’. There was an obvious mismatch in our skill levels and to be honest there was a bit of trepidation on my part about how we would go running together. I’m competitive (in case you hadn’t guessed!) and Sophie is not yet a confident runner. And we are both stubborn, like the proverbial mule!

So there we were at 6.15am, kitted up and heading out the door. Because Sophie is new to running we did a jog-walk session of 3 minutes jog, 1 minute walk with a goal of doing 30 minutes. After a warm-up which included dynamic stretching and a 5 minute brisk walk, we started jogging. There was the odd piece of conversation and the occasional questions from Sophie about what pace we should be doing, what her heart rate should be, what mine was etc etc. After a few of the jog peiords had passed Sophie had fallen into a good steady pace, and all was going well! Until the following comment was made…


“You’re not swinging your arms properly, you have too much shoulder rotation!”.

Most of you are now muttering something like “Way to go Bernie, great way to confuse Sophie and break her confidence!” But it wasn’t like that – because I was the one being corrected!

My immediate reaction was “What a little upstart – telling me how to run! Me!”.

I made some rubbish excuses and flimflammed about “It’s because I’m not running at my normal pace” and “my shoulder rotation will of course be greater than yours, my shoulders are broader”. All of which is tosh. You know, I know it. I was being lazy and I got caught out. I should have paid more attention to my stride and my technique, because Sophie was watching me and she knew from her Running School sessions which stride and technique items of hers needed improving. I’m not proud of my flimflamming either. I should have admitted I was wrong and improved my technique.

This little experience has taught me something valuable.

Sophie had shown me the difference between being a teacher and a coach. A teacher has the answers and the knowledge and can instruct someone how to do something, but a coach has the skills to assist someone to put theory into practice and excel.  She didn’t need a teacher on this run, she needed a coach. And a coach leads by example!

So from now on I will be doubly sure to make sure my technique is spot-on when I’m running with Sophie (all the time for that matter), because I know she is watching and is learning how to put the theory into practice. Hopefully she will continue to run and improve, and build a positive relationship with running. And I hope I can help her to do it!

Happy running everyone!


Get Going, Get Running!

P.S – I reckon this little lesson is as valuable for life as it is in running. Maybe more so…

About getgoing-getrunning

Hi, I’m Bernie and I’m a just guy who writes about the things which get me going and get me running, even though my running is never going to result in me standing on a podium!

Posted on June 12, 2013, in Blog. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Running with your partner : Or ‘How I got taught the difference between a teacher and a coach’.

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