Coaches, Don’t Make This Communication Mistake

Fartlek – BQ – Negative Split – Lactate Threshold. These are terms that as a running coach, you likely use on a regular basis when communicating with clients.

You may also organically understand “basic” training concepts such as before starting speedwork, there should be some form of aerobic base training.

So what’s the issue?


The issue is that what’s common knowledge to you, isn’t common to other people. Harvard University psychology professor, Steven Pinker, calls this the “Curse of Knowledge.” Pinker states that this bias means that “when you know something, it’s extraordinarily difficult to know what it’s like not to know it.

A good way to appreciate this is to try to remember what it was like when you first got into running, or to try to imagine learning a new skill that you currently have absolutely zero knowledge of.

As a coach in NYC, I’ve worked with plenty of clients that had never worked out or did any type of sport. Most all of these clients went to top colleges, held advanced degrees and were quite successful professionally. Therefore, I was often in awe that they often didn’t understand basic fitness/sport concepts. However, the issue was mine. I erroneously equated knowledge in one area to knowledge in another. I can remember a client who was a successful trader on Wall St trying to explain the basics of his job to me. Pretty sure I just sat there and stared blankly ahead while understanding and retaining nothing that came out of his mouth.


Is your client a seasoned runner/triathlete or are they a novice? Depending on their experience, you’ll need to customize your verbiage and message. Assuming your client understands verbiage or concepts that are seemingly common sense to you will at best result in confusing your client. At worst, your client will seek out another coach that is better able to communicate with them at their level.

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