At the end of the 2017 season Aaron and I had some tough decisions to make.
Aaron started coaching me back in 2007, a full time job around his already full time day job! Additional athletes joined the squad and he put just as much energy and dedication into coaching them too.
Running sessions most days and two S&C sessions a week, alongside all the planning and athlete meetings adds up, which he did on a voluntary basis. Aaron was also travelling all over the UK to support the athletes when they competed. I was earning some money from the sport and wanted to be part of a squad, so initially this justified his decision to not charge for his services.
Aaron is a great running and S&C coach, I’m bias – I know, but his results also prove this. Under his guidance the athletes in the squad started to run very well and some, earn money and/or sponsorship from the sport. It is fantastic that the athletes are progressing and competing at an elite level but this put more demands on Aaron’s time, organising race plans and communicating with agents and meeting directors.
Once I retired, for Aaron to continue coaching at the level he was, we made the tough decision to charge a nominal fee for his time and travel.
Explaining this, to his current athlete’s, was a stressful period but we had decided that if they didn’t think his service was worth paying a small fee for, we would walk away from the sport. It’s frustrating that athletics is so archaic in the UK and if Aaron was coaching in a different sport or in a different country, at his level, he’d be being paid full time to do it. Athletics coaches, in the UK, are the most underpaid and undervalued in coaching and this needs to change.
Fortunately, the majority of the squad have been really supportive and new members have joined since. I have decided to complete my coaching qualification, to assist Aaron, and I’m supporting the squad as much as I can, passing on advice from my experiences.
Interestingly the squad are responding better than ever to Aaron’s coaching and training. We are more organised with his schedules and his time, allocating slots to each athlete each month to sit down with him and plan the months training ahead. This is, of course, in addition to them seeing him on a daily basis for less formal chats. This means everyone gets equal amounts of ‘coach time’. Athletes can choose to have ‘run only’ coaching or a full package where they pay a bit extra to have S&C input including biomechanics analysis. We’ve even built a gym in our garden to cut gym costs!
I hope other coaches will be inspired and brave enough to ask for a nominal fee for their hard work and dedication. Thank you Jenny Meadows and Trev for giving Aaron the courage to do so.
Athlete’s should appreciate their coaches and at least contribute towards travel, hotel or training camp expenses. Let’s start doing the right thing by our coaches, they work just as hard as the athlete. British Athletics, why fund the athlete only? Fund the coach too.
Thank you again, Team T, for being so supportive of Aaron and appreciating all his hard work. Let’s bring on the 2018 race season.
You can read more about Aaron’s coaching and Team Thomas by visiting the website I have set up here.