Seven weeks ago, Canada’s favourite marathoner Rob Watson finished the London Marathon in a time of 2:18. Unfortunately he fell short of the Canadian Olympic standard (2:12:50) and his dream of representing Canada at the upcoming Rio Olympics.
We caught up with Rob and asked him few questions about life after London, his new role as a coach and what’s next for him in terms of running and racing.
CR: What have you been up to since London? How has the transition from athlete to coach gone for you?
RW: Mostly I’ve just been trying to enjoy things here in Vancouver. Hiking, going to shows, drinking beer, hanging out at the beach, all that fun stuff. Just trying to adjust to life as a normal dude.
I’m not going to lie, it has been weird. For years I have lived my life based on what my training schedule called for. My social activities were based around training, my bed time and even my meal times were scheduled around my running. All of a sudden that is gone. It’s odd, but slowly I am adapting to life without that structure and I really enjoy having the freedom and flexibility.
I was obviously super bummed for a little while after London, and it does still sting. But being sad is lame, so I’ve focused on moving forward and getting stuck in with some exciting new projects. Still heavily involved in running, just in a different capacity.
I am really enjoying transitioning to the coaching side of things. Dylan [Wykes] is a good friend of mine so it has been awesome to work with him. We have put a lot of time and energy into growing the Mile2Marathon brand here in Vancouver. It is a lot of fun and we have a pretty rad group of runners that we work with. Runners are just great people and it has been fun thus far.
I also partnered with Adidas to be their local run coach. Adidas really seems to get what is going on with the scene right now and I am super excited to work with them. Essentially we drive around in a sweet van all over Vancouver and organize group runs and workouts. The goal is to help grow the running scene, get in touch with the community and just have some fun.
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CR: What are you enjoying most about being a coach?
RW: The thing I really love about coaching is helping people reach their goals and grow as runners. No matter the level of runner there is always a goal in which they are striving towards and it is so cool that people trust Dylan and I to help them achieve these goals.
I have been very fortunate in that over the course of my career I have been able to work with many very talented and knowledgeable coaches. I have also always been a student of the sport and I am pretty well versed in the ins and outs of this running game. However, I am still growing as a coach and have a lot to learn.
Every athlete is different: What works for one person will not necessarily work for another. As a coach it is my responsibility to get to know my athletes and learn their strengths, their weaknesses and formulate a plan that will work best for them. The most important key to improvement as a runner is consistency. Training requires the ability to be patient and understand that it is not any one single run that will make you great, but rather the collection of weeks, months and even years of steady consistent work. Running is a pretty simple sport: The harder you work, the better you will get. But the key is to be doing the proper work and knowing when to hit it, and when to let it simmer. This is why having a coach can be helpful.
CR: What are some of the most important tips and advice you find yourself giving as a coach?
RW: The more I get into this coaching, the more I realize what a pain in the ass I must have been as an athlete. The things that get to me as a coach are things that I was routinely guilty of myself. Take easy days easy. Focus on recovery. Stick to the plan. Pace yourself. These are all important elements of training and also the things I sucked at as an athlete myself.
One huge thing I feel too many runners do is to run their easy days too hard. We as runners like to feel the burn. We think that if we don’t finish a run on our hands and knees then we didn’t do it right. There are definitely times to hammer, but equally important is an easy day to allow the body time to recover. Sometimes just jogging slowly is what the body needs. That concept can be hard to wrap your head around and I know I struggled with this a lot.
CR: Are you still running and training yourself? What are your goals in the short and/or longer term?
RW: As for my own running, there’s not a whole lot to report. For years I was so focused on chasing my dreams and chasing my goals. It was fun as hell, but man oh man it was a grind both physically and mentally. I needed a break from the high-end stuff so I am giving myself the summer to just relax and chill. I am still running about 100K a week and it is mainly just slow, easy running. I love the act of running so I will always do it, but it’s all a matter of just how hard. I have a lifetime goal of 20 sub-2:20 marathons so I reckon at some point I’ll have to get back to work. But for now I am happy to make others do the work as I sit back and enjoy the sunshine.