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June 04, 2019

The Balance of Being an Athlete and Coaching Athletes

BY: ALEXINA WILSON

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I first realized I had a real passion for coaching during my first year out of college. Most athletes in the college system just show up to practice and do the work as assigned. Once I was no longer in that system and had chosen to pursue running post collegiately, my coach (Dave Paulsen) started to give me more autonomy with my training. I enjoyed this new input I had in workouts and mileage, etc. It got me thinking about training in a different way. Rather than just showing up for practice and doing the work, I started thinking about what the purpose of the workout was and what I was getting me prepared for. Following my first year out of college I was hired on as the men and women’s distance coach at my alma mater, the University of Northern Iowa. Seeing those athletes accomplish so much in one season was truly inspiring and as a coach that will always be one of my favorite memories.

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This job gives me the opportunity to do be a coach for the sport I love, and the flexibility to be able to train and race professionally. My coach is the head coach of the program here at UNI so he knows the demands of training and also knows the demands of my job as a coach. I consider myself so lucky to be able to pursue both of my passions and I wouldn’t be able to make this work without the support of our both coaching staff here at UNI and the support offered to the Haute Volee by Oiselle. 

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Having any full-time job and training at a high level can be difficult but I also think that for me, the benefit of being able to pursue a coaching career outweighs any negatives that may come along with long work days/etc. It involves a lot of weekends traveling but who wouldn’t enjoy spending most of their weekends at track meets? 

Coaching has helped me learn so much about myself as an athlete. Helping athletes battle back from an injury or work on the mental aspect of running has opened my eyes to aspects of running would have never learned about if I was only focusing as myself as an athlete. I am so greatful to have found a career that I have passion for that can keep me around the sport I love long after I am done running at an elite level.

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