My journey to becoming a coach.

I started running about 18 years ago, I'd always wanted to run, I had looked at runners and wondered if it was something I could do.  When I moved down South from the North 20 years ago I used to throw myself around the aerobics class at Fareham Leisure Centre, mainly because they had a creche and it meant I could have some peace and quiet without my kids.  My aerobic's friend and I decided to give running a go and we had a 3 mile loop that we ran twice a week, it nearly killed us but slowly we get better and improved, signed up for a 10k and just said, well we'll have to do our loop twice now.

No one coached us, we just got on with it and it was great, we both caught the bug.  We'd heard that Fareham Leisure Centre were starting a running club so we signed up, it was brilliant, we met a small group of people every Tuesday evening and ran around Fareham, this was the beginning of the now very successful Fareham Crusaders, I was part of those early days, it was so exciting and I remember us all being asked about what name we should be called.  My friend got told off as she entered a race using Fareham Crusaders before it became official and affiliated with England Athletics.  I stayed there for about a year and then moved to Stubbington Green Runners as their nights were more convenient for me.

I cut my teeth with Stubbington Green Runners (SGR), again it was a very exciting time in running, we entered really interesting races and I experienced lots of different terrains, road and trial and saw some beautiful southern countryside.  I entered the Isle of Wight marathon in 2005 to celebrate my dad's 60th birthday as he wanted us to run it together.  I'd never been to the IOW before and was a bit surprised by the hills.

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Isle of Wight 2005

I think I was a bit shell shocked at the finish.

I joined SGR committee in 2009 and went on a Leader in Running Fitness course and absolutely loved the structure and ideas that were being developed by England Athletics and put these into practise with the club.  Again these were really exciting times, we were attracting numbers that we hadn't seen in a long time, there was a real buzz around running again.  I then started my Coach in Running Fitness qualification and I just loved it. I remember years befoe when I first started running asking someone how you get faster, their response was to just imagine that someone is chasing you! It didn't work for me, I just got hot and sweaty and felt sick so I didn't run any faster.  However, doing the CiRF course was like a light bulb moment, here I was, just a normal 40+ women with an opportunity to get faster.  I learnt how to run more effeciently, what runs I should be doing, how often I should be running. I learnt about pacing, about nutrition, about just getting the basics right.  I loved it! and guess what? I got faster! It was amazing!

 Sprint finish at Solent Half Marathon

Sprint finish at Solent Half Marathon

I took charge of the beginner's course at SGR, it was an annual event and I was the point of contact.  People were messaging me all the time, sharing their fears about running, could they do it, would they hold people up, they didin't want to be last or left behind.  The satisfaction I got from watching people progress, just like I did, with the right coaching was unbelievable. I became the club coach and I just loved it, people were improving by learning the right techniques, experienced runners times were dropping and I was being asked advice. I was in my element. I even won "Contributor of the Year" at the Annual Awards night in 2013.

I started to have ideas about  making a living out of being a coach, I was a teacher of Psychology so I knew a bit about managing large groups, I loved running and I loved coaching people, could I really turn this into a business? 

I started with a name, an idea and an email address; I offered a 8 week beginner's course that I had designed myself from my own experience and the theory I had learnt on my coaching course.  I started with a group of 4 people in September 2014 and taught them how to run from being a non-runner to a runner, it was brilliant.  People wanted to stay with me though and have me as their coach and this is how RunVerity developed.  I gave up my teaching job in May 2016 and have concentrated on RunVerity full time since then and we are growing and learning together, it is amazing and I feel so lucky to be able to get up each morning and do a job that I love and make a difference to people's lives.  I worked out yesterday that I must have taught over a 1000 people to learn to run, isn't that just fab?


What is Great Coaching? 

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Taking people from just having a desire, a thought, an inclination, a possiblity that they maybe able to run and turn them into runners is what great coaching is all about for me.  Starting someone from nothing and I mean literally nothing, gasping for breath and wishing I would shout "And recover" after just 30  seconds and then watching them turn into runners, head high, arms driving as they sprint finish their goal race is the most satisfying and emotional feeling for me.

Running is a roller coaster of emotions, amazing highs but also incredible lows where you are full of self doubt.  We have good runs and not so good runs, sometimes the training all fits into place and other times it all goes wrong.  I have spent many hours crying with frustration that a race didn't go to plan, but do you know what? I'm not afraid of failure, I pick myself up, dust myself down and do it all again. Why? Because I love running, I love exploring the countryside with my dog and my running buddies.  I love the feeling of speed and feeling strong, sometimes I feel slow and week but when you get that race where you feel you could run forever, that makes all the lows worth it.

So being able to empower people to start their running journey and to feel that feeling is what it's all about for me, I believe anyone can run with the right coaching, if you have just a thought at the back of your mind that maybe you could run, give it a go, you never know where you might end up.

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Being a coach is so much more than your coaching qualification, your qualification is just the first step on your journey as a coach.  Learning how to apply what you have learnt in the classroom is vital to being a good coach and being open to the fact that you are always learning new things.  

Coaching is so much more than how fast someone can run, it is about developing skills so that an athlete knows HOW to run, it is about watching someone progress to achieve their goals, not generic goals but specific individual goals that mean something to the athlete.  Sometimes the theory goes out of the window and as a coach you have to listen, and I mean really listen to what your athlete is saying.  It could be a throw away comment that doesn't register until a few hours later, I'm often awake at 5am in the morning thinking about something that one of my athletes said to me in passing.  These comments can speak volumes as it isn't just about the physical side of a sport, it is about the mental and emotional side of development, looking at their lifestyle and their social development.

I take into consideration other things that are going on in an athletes life as running requires a balance, you can't run or live in a vacuum.  All the things that go on around an athletes life affects their training and ultimately how they perform on race day, an athletes committment to running and training affects other aspects of their life and understanding this is as much a part of being a coach as teaching the technical stuff.

Balancing running, work and family is hard, yes it's important to commit to the next challenge but I ensure that running is kept into perspective, running should be a stress release and not an added stress.  Sometimes the balancing act fails and all the balls come crashing down, but that's ok that's what having a coach is all about, being there to pick up the balls, sometimes a shoulder to cry on, to give a hug or have a bit of a honest chat.  I am there to help you find a reasonable balance.

 Marathon traing is hard...

Marathon traing is hard...


5 Reasons to have a Running Coach


Help develop running skills enabling you to run more efficiently and optimise performance

A coach will look at your running style and help you develop running skills that will help you run more effeciently especially when you are fatigued

Protect you from injury

A coach will lead a proper warm up incorporating running drills that enourages muscle memory to help prevent injury.      

Help you achieve personal running goals, whether a beginner or experienced runner

Having a coach who will factor in lifestyle will make a big difference in your success.

Keep you consistent and motivated

Some days are easier than others so having a coach can help you through the tough weeks.


A coach will keep you honest. If you struggle with self-discipline, then      knowing that a coach is going to be encouraging you and checking on your training progress is very helpful in sticking with a program


Paris Marathon 2018

Sam joined RV in April 2017 as a complete beginner and a year later she completed Paris Marathon.  The photograph shows that even after 26.2 miles her posture is strong compared to the other runners around her. Sam worked hard on her technique over the course of the year, she stayed injury free as she increased her miles and achieved a long held ambition to run a marathon.