Eric Thuemmel is a fellow running coach from my Alma Mater and will be joining me on the show today to talk shop.
His coaching is a bit different than the average coach because his athletes are all in middle school and high school.
I am looking forward to going a few easy miles with Eric Thuemmel.
A Lifetime Of Running
Eric Thuemmel is no stranger to running having began his journey while in junior high.
Eric first got into running because he had an older brother that was a runner.
Cross country and track were a consistent part of his life all throughout middle school and high school.
Eric made the choice to go to a Division I school for college which eliminated any opportunity to run for the team.
He was talented enough to run for a smaller school but had no idea what a serious college team required.
Even though Eric wasn’t on a team he still continued to run and completed his first marathon at the age of 18.
From that first marathon, he continued to run one marathon a year until he reached his early 30’s.
When his youngest of 4 children was born, Eric made a conscious decision to take a break from training for longer races.
Natural Born Runner
Eric has run several marathons over the past decade including the Boston marathon.
He first ran Boston in 1992 having qualified by a substantial amount when he ran his first sub 3 marathon.
His most recent Boston finish was in 2001 at a time when he was also coaching at the local high school.
At the time Eric ran the Boston marathon it was a much smaller race with one start time that didn’t include the many waves it does today.
Eric found it challenging to train for spring marathons given the weather that Michigan typically experienced in the winter.
It has been nearly 15 years since Eric last ran a marathon.
Eric has found immense satisfaction and joy in helping the local youth improve and reach their goals.
Fostering A Love For Running
Eric has been a middle school and high school math teacher and running coach for close to 3 decades.
His first coaching job was at the age of 22 when he was fresh out of college.
Coaching youth differs in many ways from coaching adults.
Eric wants each athlete to succeed and be their best, but not at the expense of getting burnt out on the sport.
For his middle school team especially, he stresses fun.
Once a week Eric incorporates some sort of game into the practice that includes running but lets the kids have fun.
Eric is always looking at the long-term goals and wants his athletes to have a life long love of running.
He finds his greatest joy in watching each kid improve throughout the season.
Eric has been successful at recruiting athletes for his teams over the years.
He credits a lot of this success to the fun his athletes have and their friends wanting to join.
While coaching youth is fun, Eric also has some challenges that come along with it.
Running is important but school and maintaining grades must be the top priority.
Without good grades, his athletes won’t be able to stay eligible to compete.
Eric is conscience of making sure that hard workouts don’t coincide with big events at school such as homecoming.
Good communication with parents is a must in order to have a successful season with his athletes.
Finding What Works
Each season Eric has many new athletes and he is challenged to determine how to push and motivate each one the appropriate amount.
He is cognizant of not singling out the more talented kids over all the others.
It is easier to do this with the girls’ team, because he has them practice with the boys’ team as a way to push all of them.
Finding ways to push some of the top boys on the team can be a bit more of a challenge.
Eric always makes sure to schedule certain competitive meets throughout the year to give his athletes the opportunity to compete against the best.
Eric encourages his athletes to make little goals for each race to give them something to work towards.
Occasionally goals may need to shift depending on a variety of circumstances.
Eric always stresses that even if you’re not the most talented runner, you’re likely motivating someone just by doing the work.
Mentioned In This Episode:
Stay connected with Eric Thuemmel by checking out his local Blog.
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