Tag Archives: USATF

USATF Cross Country Specialist Course

I am officially a USA Track and Field Cross Country Specialist!  Even though I don’t coach a cross country team, I found the course incredibly valuable and it was a honor to learn from Dr. Joe Vigil, who coaches two of my favorite runners, Brenda Martinez and Deena Kastor.

The course was spread out over two days, a Friday afternoon-evening session and Saturday morning-afternoon sessions.  There were 129 other coaches there with me, all of whom were equally as excited.  We covered cross countryeverything from team dynamics to hill workouts as well as lab sessions on the track and a short but tough cross country course on the Villanova campus.  Coaches Vigil and Scott Christensen were amazing.  Their combined knowledge was mind boggling and there was certainly no shortage of stories after so many championships, Olympics and runners.

During dinner the first evening I spent time with my phone plugged into one of the classroom’s few outlets.  It also provided me a little bit of bonus time with Coach Vigil.  I was honored by his feedback and surprised to hear him say how much he loved the marathon.  While I’m not sure I share the same sentiment as a runner, I definitely agreed with him as a coach.  To really be successful at the marathon, you must change your life.  It’s amazing what can be accomplished when you give everything you’ve got to training.cross country

I can’t wait to employ some of the training and coaching techniques I learned.  As many of my runners prepare for fall marathons we’ll definitely have some cross country inspired fun.  If you coach, just want to become a better runner or learn from the best, I highly recommend taking this class.  I am definitely a better coach because of it.

Coach Meredith

Have you ever run cross country?  What do you like most about it?

2014 in Review: Running, Blogging, Learning

Another year is drawing to a close and 2014 seemed to fly by faster than the last.  It was an exciting year of running adventures, traveling and lots of learning.

As 2014 rolled in, I established both personal and professional goals for the next 12 months.  My personal goals revolved around running, including logging 1,200 miles and clocking a sub 1:40.00 half marathon before the summer began.  My professional goals were to get my USA Track and Field Level I certification, grow FitNicePT and potentially write an e-book.  Now that 2014 is on the way out and learning2015 is knocking on the door, it’s time to take a look back at the last 365 days.

I nailed one of my running goals by PRing under 1:40.00 twice before summer and again in October at 1:37.24.  My racing year was very exciting and if you want to read all about it, here it is!  I exceeded my second running goal by running 1,445 miles in 2014.  Staying injury free was a huge bonus and I credit it to listening to my body in combination with consistent strength training.

My professional goals were not so easy to gauge.  I did receive my USA Track and Field Level I Coaching certification in March and the three-day course was a great learning experience.  I also took FitNicePT in a different direction and struggled with where I wanted to go.  Instead of writing an e-book, I took a lot of time to learn and use Twitter to help build a strong voice for my brand and gave more time to my blogs.  I love sharing my passion and knowledge while helping others reach their goals.  Being a part of the RunChat and BibRave clearningommunities has been very rewarding and while an e-book longer than 140 characters is still potentially on the horizon, I’m happy to be a part of the online running community on a daily basis.

Between my USATF coaching course, various continuing education efforts and some blogging trial and error, I did a lot of learning in 2014.  I stretched my long runs longer than ever before, lifted heavier weights than I thought I could, reached out to brands and businesses I never thought I could and look forward to taking those lessons with me into 2015.

What are my goals for 2015?  I have a Rock n Roll Phoenix and Rock n Roll DC on the calendar but am not aiming for a PR at either event.  I want to continue to grow the FitNicePT brand and need to choose the best way to do that.  I’ll spend some serious time thinking about it over the next few days and can’t wait to share what I decide.


What was your biggest accomplishment of 2014?  Did you reach all of your goals?

USATF Level One Coaching Course

My love of running, the running community and desire to bring it to others drive me to Tweet, Facebook and Blog all things running, and have even led me to starting the FitNicePT YouTube channel.  I want to be able to provide the best guidance and coaching I possibly can, and this motivated me to Level Oneregister for USA Track and Field’s Level One Coaching Certification Course early in the year.  As I mentioned in this post, I attended the course last weekend, March 21-23 at Villanova University, and had a wonderful experience.

The 21 hour program kicked off Friday evening and it flew by. The class was full of coaches from up and down the east coast and their faces were of every shape, size and age.  It’s amazing how accepting and diverse the running world is.  There really is a place for anyone, especially those who want to help others improve.  We covered the USATF Philosophy, basic sport Psychology, and basic running Physiology during Friday’s session and it was a good review of things I’ve learned throughout my training career.  After class, I went home and hit the hay, ready for lots of learning on Saturday.

Saturday morning kicked off around 8:30 with a valuable outline of Biomechanics then rolled right into Training Theory and Sprints/Hurdles before lunch.  I was familiar with the first two subjects, but beyond my meager attempts at crashing through a few hurdles and some not-so-fast sprints in high school, I really didn’t know much about these events, especially how to coach them.  Speed work is an important element of long distance training, and I found the things I learned in this section quite valuable.

After lunch we covered the second half of the Sprints/Hurdles curriculum, worked through the Biomotor section and wrapped up the twelve hour day with my favorite topic, the Endurance Events.  Since I’ve been off the track for quite a long time, and have been running distances of at least 5k ever since, it was a good reminder that distances as short as the 800M are considered Endurance events that require similar training techniques.  After the lecture, I had a great talk with the instructor and got lots of advice on half marathon training that will be a big help in guiding both my clients and myself through upcoming races.

It was back to finish up Sunday morning with the Throwing Events before lunch and last, but not least, close the educational experience with the Jumps Events.  Much like the Sprint and Hurdle Events, I knew a bit about the Throws and Jumps, but these two sections were definitely the most foreign to me.  Not much of a weight lifter back in the day, my upper body strength was, shall we say, lacking as I was unable to do a pull-up or more than two or three full push-ups and I steered clear of any throwing implements or surfaces as often as possible.  Similarly, I’m not much of a jumper.  I never seriously attempted any Jumps in my track days, though I did take a few leaps into the sand for fun.  Some of the technical elements of the Jumps Events are similar to the Sprint Events, which helped me understand the mechanics, and I found myself wondering how I would perform at both the Throws and Jumps (probably not very well at either).

A few minutes of closing remarks and a course survey signaled the end of the 21 hour endeavor and I walked away with a brain swimming in information I couldn’t wait to share with clients, and apply to my own training.  The instructors were great.  They were enthusiastic, incredibly knowledgeable and more than willing to answer questions and help all of us grow as coaches.  I made for the car excited to get back to coaching, and after my brain cleared out a bit during the drive home, I really started to process what I head learned.  Tons of great information that definitely helped me grow as a coach and will greatly benefit my clients and my business made every minute of my missed weekend worth it.Level OneI decided during my drive to take my 200 question Level One Coaching Exam Monday morning.  I wanted to dive into in while the information was still fresh, and even though the exam is open book, I really wanted to see what I retained.  The lengthy exam took more time than expected, but with little help from my book, I had apparently retained lots of the lecture information and knocked out a 97% on my test.  I am officially a USATF Level One Coach.  I’m proud of my accomplishment, but even more so to be a part of the running community.


Are you a running coach?  How do you work to improve your running?