usatf level 1 certification

After finishing my Master’s degree in December, I’ve been on a quest to continue pursuing my education in other aspects.  Honestly, if we had the time/resources to do it, I would go back to school and become a chiropractor.  But, we sort of need my salary to be able to afford our house, so that dream is being put on hold… for now…

So, instead of looking into something that’s going to keep me paying student loans for the next 100 years, I’ve been looking into other forms of certification.  I am already a Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA, but I want to make myself more marketable in other aspects of my career.  I’ve been waiting for an RRCA certification course to come out to St. Louis for a few years now, but the closest they’ve gotten is Kansas City (3 hours away) and the price is pretty steep (almost $400).  Oh, and they fill up super fast, which makes it even harder to get into one.

Instead, I started looking into becoming a Level 1 coach for USA Track + Field.  I really lucked out with this one – a course in St. Louis on a weekend that we had completely free.  And the price was about half that of the RRCA course.  Sign. Me. Up!  It doesn’t hurt that I’ll officially be a track coach in about a week and a half and need all this information anyway.

The Concrete Runner - USATF Level 1 Certification

Let’s just say it was a loooooooooooooong weekend.  The course was held at CBC High School in St. Louis starting at 3:00 on Friday afternoon.  I don’t get out of school until 3:15 and I work about 45 minutes away from CBC, so I ended up taking a half day on Friday to get there on time.  Friday was all about basic coaching information:  ethics, risk management, biomechanics, physiology, and training principles.  By the time we got out of there at 9:45 PM Friday night, I was about ready to throw in the towel because these were all things I was already extensively trained in through my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.  Thankfully, the instructors (current + former high school and college coaches) were entertaining, so it wasn’t necessarily terrible.  The worst part really, for me, was having to stand up in front of everyone and introduce myself.  There’s a reason you rarely ever see me on a video… (I know, I’m a teacher, public speaking should come easy, but it’s easy standing in front of a class of 13 year olds…)

Saturday was MUCH more exciting, but equally as long.  The course began at 8AM, starting with pole vault.  I’ve never held a pole vault pole in my life, and yet, I need to be able to coach 8th graders in pole vault in 2 weeks.  While I feel a little more trained now, I’m still hesitant about coaching pole vault.  Too much of a risk and I am far from coordinated enough to demonstrate.

Then, came endurance events – the highlight of my day!  So much fabulous information and the instructor had a lot of the same opinions on form and training as I do.  He really gave me the confidence I needed in my own training plans and hopefully I can take a lot of those same principles to train my middle schoolers.  Or, you know, hopefully use my knowledge to start doing some internet coaching?!  Who knows, but that is definitely more of a reality now…

After a lunch break, we spent the rest of the day learning about sprints and throwing events.  The coach who taught the sprinting events was one of the most knowledgeable coaches I’ve ever been able to listen to.  Right now, I have no one on my coaching staff who is trained in coaching sprinters.  The information I received from Coach Cunningham made me almost more confident in coaching sprinters than distance runners – I mean, that’s just how good he was.  And he was hilarious!  Definitely my kind of teaching style and he made the afternoon fly by.


I will admit that throws and jumps were my least 2 favorite things to learn about.  Maybe my simple running mind just can’t comprehend why anyone would want do throw or jump over an implement when they can go and get a runner’s high.  But, maybe it’s also because those are not my primary sports that I’ll be coaching.  They did make me feel much more comfortable with coaching those events, but I think I’ll be sticking to creating plans for my sprinters and distance runners.

Overall, I spent about 20 hours sitting through track + field coaching education this weekend, but it was definitely worth the time away from my family.  I’m to the point now where I am actually looking forward to track season and starting coaching something other than volleyball.  I mean, for me, as I’m sure for most other runners, the dream is to be paid to run.  But, let’s face it, I’m no Shalane Flanagan and won’t be going to the Olympics anytime soon.  The next best thing, to me at least, is to be able to coach runners.  To share my passion with other runners and help them achieve their goals.

Now, a test is the only thing that stands between me and officially being called a USATF Level 1 Certified Coach.  Dang, that’ll look good on my coaching resume…

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  • Kaitlin Spano

    Whoohoo Congrats Momma!! Good luck with your team this year!!!