Coach Jerry Alexander, the head coach of the NOVA Running Club since 2006, is our feature this week! Known by all of NOVA as the guy who designs our Tuesday workouts, and for his watchful guidance over us at the track (rain or shine), he’s been to many people in our club the person who has helped them transform as an athlete. Coach Jerry is not just our coach – he is our figurehead, our counsel, our injury preventer, our race planner, our recruiter, and most of all, the guy who makes us all want to be faster runners! Read on for Jerry’s responses to a few questions below. And for more insight on Coach Jerry, check out his updated bio on the NOVA website! http://novarunningclub.com/coaches-corner/
1.In your tenth year, what continues to motivate you to continue working with NOVA athletes?
The first word that comes to mind when about my motivation to keep coaching NOVA is loyalty. I’ve been working with many of the NOVA athletes for more than 5 years, and with a few for 10 years, and my loyalty to those athletes keeps me coming back. I’ve got my hands full coaching GRC, and as GRC keeps improving every year, it becomes more and more of a time commitment for me. But the chance to continue to work with a dedicated group of athletes who I know so well is plenty of motivation for me to keep doing it.
2.What do you like best about the club?
I really enjoy the fact that NOVA is able to accommodate athletes of every ability level. We have beginners who literally need me to explain to them that a lap on the track is 400 meters, and we have national class women, and everything in between. Seeing the elite women warming up with folks who are hoping to finish their first 10k is a lot of fun for me.
3.What’s the single best training advice you can give to an athlete who is a good runner and hard worker, but wants to get better?
Be patient. There is an almost irresistible temptation among runners to work hard all the time, and to push themselves to the point of injury and/or overtraining. Development as a distance runner takes time, and doing too much too soon is always a bad idea. My job as the coach is to tell the runners it’s okay to do less sometimes. It’s rare that you’ll hear me yelling at an athlete to pick it up, but you’ll hear me telling athletes to slow down multiple times at every practice.
4.What are some of your goals for NOVA runners, or the club as a whole, this coming year?
My goal for each NOVA athlete is the same–to stay healthy, train well, compete hard, and enjoy the sport. For the team, I’d like to see us continue to grow in terms of numbers and quality, particularly on the men’s side, and I’d like to see us compete at full strength in a couple of team races this year. With our full complement of athletes, NOVA has the ability to compete with any open team in the area, and I’d like to see us show what we can do.
5.Where would you like to see NOVA as a club in five years?
As the sport grows in the DC area, I’d like to see NOVA grow as well. We’ve got a really good thing going, and in the years to come, I’d like to get our numbers up, and continue to help athletes on all levels enjoy running, and improve their racing.
6.What is your greatest challenge in coaching NOVA runners?
There are several challenges we’ve always faced at NOVA. The biggest one is that life gets in the way for non-professional runners. Work and family commitments make consistent training difficult, and consistency is critical to development for distance runners. I do my best to help athletes work through rough patches, and not get too concerned about missing a workout here and there. Another challenge is that I only see the athletes once a week, and it can get pretty hectic on Tuesday nights, so I have to stay focused to keep track of everyone who’s out there. I do my best to give every athlete attention, and the bigger we get, the more challenging that becomes.
7.What non-running fitness related (or other) activities do you enjoy?
Between my real job, two coaching jobs, and my family, I don’t have a ton of free time, but when I do have the chance to relax, I like to listen to music.