Updated: Dec 13, 2021
Cross Country Season is in full swing and you all know I am a huge fan of the Delaware high school cross-country scene. I'd like to highlight one of our Level 2 Certified Running Gait Analyst & Local Running Coaches. I interviewed Coach LK to learn more about her road to coaching runners, why she loves it, and some of her best strategies for getting success with her runners!
What is your background in cross country?
I started running when I was in elementary school and started competing in my sophomore year of high school. From sophomore through senior year, I was a 3-sport athlete - XC, swimming, and track - and knew I wanted to continue sports during college. I figured I would have the best shot at running, so I walked on to the D1 Program at High Point University. I had a decent freshman year, and then a new coach was hired. Under Coach Esposito's leadership, I was able to unlock my potential and as a result, I earned my spot on the team as a scholarship athlete and was a top runner for the women's program during my last 3 years at HPU! I eventually set 2 school records (steeplechase and 10k) and was named to the Big South All-Academic Team twice. I was all about the experience of the student athlete! I served 4 years on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and was the secretary & vice president for the Psi Chi society and a member of the Alpha Chi honor society.
Post-college, I continued running on my own and racing mostly 5ks, but dabbling in the 10 mile and half marathon distances. During the summer of 2009, I trained solo while working at the beach and got my 5k time back down to the low 18 mins. After moving to Delaware in 2010, I trained for my first marathon (Marine Corps) and raised money for the Ishan Gala Foundation. I took a little break from running during my pregnancy and postpartum, before returning to the racing scene around the same time I started coaching! I have completed 10 marathons and have grown to be more competitive in the local running scene. I was overall female in the Rehoboth Half Marathon in 2017 and placed 4th female in the Full Marathon in 2018.
OK, talk to us about your experience coaching?
I fell in love with coaching after my first day with the team. I joined the staff as an assistant coach at a local college in 2015. I leaned into the then-head coach for mentorship and picked his brain about all the ins & outs of coaching. The next season, I moved into the head coach position for the cross-country team and led the program for 6 strong years! I’ve also previously served as the head indoor track & field coach at a local HS for 3 years, and assistant outdoor track coach (working with the distance runners) for 2 years. I recently changed gears and am exclusively coaching at the high school level, in all 3 seasons.
What certifications and training do you suggest coaches consider?
I have a Technical Track & Field Certification through USTFCCCA, as well as certification in Program Management and as an Endurance Specialist. I’ve completed both Level 1 and Level 2 Certified Running Gait Analyst and I also have training in Injury Management, Sports Psychology, Nutrition, and Weight Training. All of these have been very useful in advancing my coaching career.
Why do you enjoy being a cross country coach? What keeps bringing you back?
The reasons are countless! I absolutely love getting to work with the student-athletes. Coaching can be a demanding job managing details day to day - there are a lot of moving parts to athletic programs. But I find it's fulfilling to play a role in helping young adults develop, encouraging them to realize their abilities, and stimulating them to use their talents not just as an athlete, but as a person. I love valuing relationships and supporting the student-athletes in all the ways I can. It's neat to really get to know them and be able to cheer for them on their life journey. There's so much joy that emerges when you decide to commit to something and experience the rewards of your hard work. I love helping students through this and seeing it first hand. I'm fanatical about coaching, running, and student-athletes, and I know my passion pays off. In addition, I appreciate that the industry and community of coaching is progressive – there is always something to learn, something to improve upon, and new techniques to motivate and get success.
This is your first year using the RunDNA app – how are you seeing it make a difference? I love utilizing the RunDNA app with my team so I can have a steady pulse on how the athletes are performing. It’s a great tool to stay current with how athletes are feeling and responding to specific training and rehab plans. Plus, the student-athletes love using an app to communicate with me and have their customized program all on their phone.
Thanks, Coach LK, good luck this season. I'm sure to see you out there at some of the local running meets.