Searching for a Coach

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No, I’m not looking for a cheap ride to London but someone who can teach me to race walk.

A year or so ago, I tried Birchfield Harriers and went for a few trial sessions. Unfortunately, the race walk coach was nowhere to be found and I ended up getting put with a nice chap called Dave.

Now Dave tried to be helpful but the sessions comprised of half an hour in the stadium throwing javelins (someone’s idea of a warm up) the a brisk walk around the adjacent park.

There was no attempt to follow the correct race walk technique so I gave up.

Then cave COVID and nothing happened – I joy carried on with my long walks.

Then, at the end of July this year, parkrun returned.

I have been involved in parkrun since 2010, initially running then helping out, mainly, taking photos at Brueton parkrun in Solihull.

The first parkrun after lockdown was my forty sixth.

A nice feature of parkrun is that at certain milestones, commemorative T-shirts are issued. My first milestone event would be on completing fifty events.

Then, I discovered, a not overly publicised, article on the parkrun website that said that after the first of September, the free T-shirt would cost £15 !

What more of an incentive did I need. I counted the number of Saturdays until September and compared this to the number of parkrun that I needed to reach my fifty. I could do it, with one week to spare.

I have walked a parkrun, nearly every weekend since and my total currently stands at fifty seven.

More importantly, my times have been steadily improving. Parkrun forty six was 40:39 and number fifty six was down to 35:56.

However, I don’t feel that I can get much quicker the way I walk and want to improve my speed so I need to improve the way I walk.

In short, I need to find someone who can teach me to race walk properly.

I know that there are plenty of on-line videos but I do not want to learn bad habits that I’ll just have to unlearn later.

To this end, I started looking for a club that had a race walking section.

I contacted Birchfield again, explaining what happened last time and asking for some proper coaching.

I contacted some of the other local running clubs; Sutton, Tamworth, Nuneaton and Sparkbrook.

Now it may just be me, but there seems to be a general attitude around race walking somewhat akin to The Masons. I know that race walking exists but when I ask about it, I am greeted with a wall of silence. No-one answered my pleas. Not even the Race Walking Association.

I did join a Facebook group (Introduction to Race Walking) and did receive some words of encouragement including the offer of help from Coach Carmen in the US who runs an on-line training business (LINK).

Towards the end of last week, I did get something from the Midland Area Competition Secretary (Race Walking), a guy called Glyn Jones. His email suggested that I contact Birchfield. Glyn also told me about a series of event that takes place over the winter where I could try my hand at race walking competitively. The first event that I can do is in December at Warwick university in Coventry. I plan on doing this.

This week, I received a couple of emails from members of Nuneaton Harriers offering to help so I’ve a phone call booked for this evening to discuss my needs and what the harriers can do to help.

Hopefully, I am getting somewhere. Now I just need to learn the secret handshake.