On New Year’s Eve, I got a call from one of my favorite autism charities, Talk About Curing Autism, asking me if I could help out with developing a program to help people train for races as charity runners. I was flattered and honored. I mean, I’m just a guy doing my thing, trying to figure out a way one day at a time to use my hobby (running) to make some good in the world.
For them to ask me that was the coolest thing ever. First, it gives me another way to help, which I’m excited about. I can only do so much on my own, but to able to do my thing while an organization I really stand behind that has a really good reach makes the most of my ability to combine running with fighting autism? WIN! And from a selfish standpoint, it was a really awesome pat-on-the-back that they thought enough of what I’ve done with Operation Jack to ask me to help.
Just realized, in case you’re wondering, this is a volunteer role for me. I’ve never been in a paid charity role and I don’t ever want to be in a paid charity role — fighting autism through running is my hobby, and I want to keep it that way.
Anyways, I have a fair amount of running experience, and I started a Train 4 Autism running group in Orange County, Calif. that’s going really strong now, so I feel pretty comfortable with my ability to get charity running groups going. But being in more of an official role for good-sized organization like this, I didn’t feel like I was necessarily good enough to do this. When I’m doing my own thing, training myself, running my own race, the only person impacted by me is me.
However, if I’m going to coach people through an event, and they have expectations of having fun through the training process and getting to the start line and finish line healthy, that’s much more important that when I’m working towards a good race. I take that seriously, because it’s a responsibility towards another person. As much confidence as I have in my knowledge and experience, to me that just wasn’t enough. Most people would probably tell me that I’m being ridiculous thinking I’m not able to coach people through their first half-marathon or marathon, but like I said, I take my responsibility towards other people seriously.
So, I went to Chicago last month for a two-day course to get my coaching certification through the Road Runners Club of America. It was actually a pretty interesting course. I already knew a lot of the things they taught, but I learned a lot of new things, too. A lot of the course pieced together a lot of things I’ve picked up over the years through experience. I’ve mindlessly adapted to doing things certain ways and now I figured out why I do what I do. I picked up some knowledge that will eliminate some of the guesswork and “just because” stuff and in general, I feel like I understand a lot more about running and training than I used to.
I passed the exam and my coaching certification will become official once I get my first aid certification. That will be soon, probably within the next week. I’ve worked with friends in the past, but it’s always been just a matter of using my knowledge gained from experience and reading. Now, I really feel like I have a good grip on how to coach a runner through a training cycle and I’m excited to be able to help people. I’ve been working with somebody this spring and it’s been a ton of fun to watch her progress.
Like everything else since I started Operation Jack nearly five years ago, I’m going to take this new role one day at a time and see what happens. I have no clue how it will go, but things have worked themselves out and everything has been OK. Fingers crossed that trend continues, since I’m going to be responsible for coaching autism parents from the couch to their first race. It’s going to be a great opportunity to help them find a positive outlet, plus it will also help TACA. After going through that training and filling in some gaps in my knowledge, I really feel like I’m equipped to lead the way now.
That’s all I have for today. Who’s in Philly? Come out at start with us on May 4![subscribe2]