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  • Writer's pictureKarla

Nick Anderson - Running coach - Part one

Nick has over 25 years coaching experience at all levels and has been a runner since age 10. He is a UKA level 4 endurance coach and coaches individuals at all levels as part of his running business, Running With Us. Running With Us offers group coaching for charities to support them them in fundraising through sports events, and individual bespoke coaching. Nick is also one of the club coaches at Winchester Running Club.




I was born in Hertfordshire but moved to Hampshire and Winchester when I was five. Although I’ve had periods living in London, I would say Winchester has always been home. My wife Tamsin and I are very busy with the local running community. We also live with Tommy, our Hungarian vizsla, and Arthur the cat. Those names rather give away one of our favourite TV dramas…. I have two wonderful daughters Jess & Lucy who are very grown up and luckily for me live in Winchester too.


I started running when I was ten. I inspired by the 9 o’clock news being interrupted (yes we all went to bed earlier in 1979!) when Seb Coe or Steve Ovett were racing somewhere in Europe and chasing another world record. I wanted to run and literally started running around the block and local golf course. After a busy junior and senior career, I found myself organising training get togethers in my mid to late 20’s and being asked training questions. So, I set up my first training group and had already taken my first coaching badge. A career change led me to study sports science and health and fitness and I moved back to Winchester. I became a coach and PE teacher soon after at Winchester college. I was still training seriously myself but had squads of younger and senior athletes at both the college and local club. Many great and fun years followed. I created RunningWithUs some years later and became a full-time coach around 2008 but would argue coaching had been full time for years before really.


My favourite place to train is almost too tough to answer. Winchester is great for hills and beautiful countryside, but I’ve always loved the trails in Scotland, Wales or the lakes, even when I was focused on the track and road years ago. I head out to Portugal several times a year and have been going since the mid 90’s as an athlete and now as a coach. It’s the perfect climate and there are places to train hard in the Algarve for track, road or cross country.



 Over the years I’ve loved all sports. I was one of those kids that was always playing sport and to be honest I should have paid more attention in school. I was always thinking about the sport I was going to do afterwards! I always wanted to watch the sport that was on tv and be a part of it. Even then I wanted, one day, to have a career in sport, and I guess I’ve achieved that which is fantastic. I’m very lucky that I jump out of bed each day and am excited about my work, the coaching and what I do.

 

I love athletics but I also love football, cricket, rugby, basketball, and I’m massively into cycling. I could go on and on! Basically, it’s about competitive sport. I love the people around the sports, I just find it totally inspiring and really exciting and there’s bags of energy. You just meet so many interesting people. I’ve been very lucky to travel loads and have met some of the people who were my heroes in the 80s, some of whom have now become friends. That’s been a wonderful thing and something I’d never have dreamt of. Sport is great and I think generally people who play sport are well balanced. It’s good for us all, at whatever level.

 

In the early years I was guilty of thinking that because I’d studied sport science that I might know more than others. Over the years I’ve become better at listening, and better at taking my time and allowing athletes to find their own way. It was easy in the early years to want to overmanage training and try to help too much. Ultimately you are trying to give direction, but the athlete is in control. You’re just there to help that journey happen. I feel happier and more rounded these days in dealing with different situations that arise.



 I’ve always believed in volume but over the years I’ve changed my perspective on how you achieve that volume. I’ve always been into cross training but never fully embraced how well it can work until recent years when I’ve worked with several athletes that can’t run more than 4 or 5 times a week yet they’ve gone on to achieve great things. I can think of one female athlete that ran 2.31 for the marathon that ran 4 times per week, perhaps occasionally 5. And the longest run before the marathon was 14-16 miles at the very, very most and only done once. Everything else was on a mountain bike and in the pool aquajogging. That’s been an interesting journey.

 

Overall you’re trying to build the base of the house or the castle, and then you put the roof on top. I do believe in good volume, good planning and good seasons, and lots and lots of rest. Athletes are rubbish at resting and having periods off during the year. That periodisation is really important.

 

I’ve always believed in threshold and tempo running. But I do think you need to keep in touch with speed alongside that. I now understand more about each athlete needing their own recipe because there are so many ways to train and we’re all unique. I think that’s something you grasp and are more flexible with as the years go by.



 My coaching philosophy has probably changed. Previously I’d have said you had to do all you could to help an athlete in their journey. Now I think you need to sit back quite a lot more and advise and guide in the background. You’re trying to empower the athlete. Bud Baldaro, a great mentor and friend of mine, said to me maybe 20 years ago that if you do a good job, after 3 -5 years you’ll have written yourself out of a job because the athlete will know what to do. All you’re doing is being in the background and guiding when needed. In the earlier years you’re much busier with the athlete, educating and helping more. I think Bud was right.

 

I’ve always loved cycling and the sport of cycling. If I hadn’t had run, I’d have found my way into cycling much earlier. In the last 10 to 15 years, I’ve started cycling a lot, partly because my knees have gradually hurt more and more. Now, when I’m on my road bike or my mountain bike, getting out for a few hours and riding harder or easier, it gives me the same buzz as it did to run and to train every day. That’s what cycling has become for me in the last years, something I really love. Hampshire is great but you can take your bike anywhere these days and explore and see so much of the world.


You can find Nick at runningwithus.com or on Instagram as @nickandersonruncoach.



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