Monday, June 18, 2012

Coaching Pfit

Blue/Green Group 2012 -

Coaching Portland Fit has been a highlight in my life for twelve years.  My kids don't remember me not coaching Portland Fit. Each spring I get a new group of runners that have their sights set on running the Portland Marathon.  The Blue/Green Group is the fast group in the program and usually brings me a variety of runners both new and experienced ready to take on the challenge of running 26.2 miles in October.  To become a member of the Blue/Green group you need to run 7-8 minute pace for 3 miles the very first day we meet.  Those that accomplish this goal get me for a coach and will wear a green or blue shoe tag for the season. Together we build strength, mileage, courage and knowledge over the 26 week program.  Year after year I get many of them back.  Sometimes they come back after 4 or 5 years with great life stories and adventures to share. Many become Assistant Coaches and assist with the program each week sharing information and volunteering their time to assist new people with a common goal. As you can see in the picture, the people wearing red hats are my Assistant Coaches. I couldn't lead this group without them.  They are paying if forward. I am lucky enough to call many of them friend.

The idea of meeting new people and running with them for hours at a time is overwhelming to some.  Having the courage to come out and join this group is what sets these folks apart and makes this group so dynamic.  Talking and listening goes a long way.  Hearing what others think and do and sharing stories and information and building friendships over time and distance has been the common thread of my group. Creating a safe environment for everyone to share while strengthening our minds and bodies has proved to be amazing which is why I continue to wake up and run with this group every Saturday for 26 Saturday's a year x 12 years.  It's powerful. 

This picture was taken on the Springwater Corridor that runs along the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon.  On this day my group ran 10 miles, this was the 5 mile turn around point.  My coaching lesson on this day?  Slow down!!  This is what I always preach midway through the program because members begin feeling good and fit.  My advice is to save your speed for the tempo runs or interval days but Saturday? Saturday is the long slow distance day so enjoy it!! Make sure you are talking along the way as this is the true test to ensure you are not running too fast. 

How will this group do in the marathon?  They will succeed!  They have each other and a common goal that will be reached. Maybe not this year or maybe this year but together we will find out how to get there, we are on a journey of fitness and friendship and we call it Portland Fit.

Paula Harkin
Green/Blue Coach
Portland Fit