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Celebrating Growth: A Reflection on My Coaching LEARNING Journey This Year

Sid's year of learning
Running coach learning

I'm now officially halfway through my master's program in high-performance sports. This year has presented significant challenges as I've juggled coaching, family responsibilities, running, and my studies. I may have pushed myself too hard in the first semester by taking on two subjects, and unfortunately, I sustained an injury on the first day of the university break (in May). I wanted to share my academic journey, the subjects I've been studying, and how this learning has impacted my coaching work.

In the first semester, I delved into two subjects: High-Performance Science and High-Performance Coaching. High-Performance Science provided me with the necessary tools to make scientifically informed decisions regarding training methods and their benefits on performance. I applied this knowledge to gain a deeper understanding of heat acclimatization and strategies to mitigate the effects of heat stress on athletic performance.

High-Performance Coaching explored contemporary concepts of learning methods and skill acquisition in sports. This subject offered valuable insights into tailoring coaching to each athlete's unique learning style. It reinforced my coaching philosophy, emphasizing the importance of self-learning for skill development, even if the learning curve is slow.

In the second semester, I focused on a single subject, "Recovery and Nutrition for High-Performance Sport." This course examined the roles of recovery modalities and nutrition in optimizing athletic performance. I developed a deeper comprehension of fatigue and sharpened my skills in monitoring, interpreting, and implementing effective recovery strategies. Additionally, I explored nutrition principles, including energy balance and macronutrient manipulation, and their impact on training adaptation, competition preparation, body composition, and addressing nutritional challenges.

This year of study has had a profound impact on my coaching. It has equipped me with essential tools to monitor athletes, understand their individual needs, and design training programs that lead to optimal adaptations and performance. Moreover, it has enhanced my professionalism by fostering critical thinking in training and adopting a comprehensive "leave no stone unturned" approach.

Reflecting on these experiences, I'd like to offer three key tips to every athlete:

1. Prioritise what you genuinely need to succeed in your target event, rather than blindly following trends.

2. If you're putting in the effort but not seeing improvement, question your choices, approach to training and recovery.

3. Always remember that proper sleep and nutrition are the two fundamental pillars of recovery.

By Sidney Willis,

Head Coach of Hungry Runner


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