Peer Coaching in Action

Peer Coaching in Action

I’d like for you to meet Jarrod; he runs marathons. Later this year, he is looking forward to cruising the Dalmatian coast –but only after he has run the Berlin Marathon. That’s 42.2km.

To me, and to many others, running this marathon, seems quite the challenge, and one could be mistaken for thinking Jarrod has placed his entire focus and training attention on preparing himself for this epic adventure. However, no, that is not exactly the case.

You may wonder what Jarrod’s impending marathon and cruise have to do with the title, “Peer Coaching in Action.” The story of my own journey in endurance racing, and the support that Jarrod has given to me, as well as to many others, in the preparation of and execution of this event, demonstrates the value of peer support in achieving successful outcomes. You too can have this level of support in your workplace. The support that inspires people to work ‘harder’ and ‘smarter’. I have written about the inherent benefits of Peer Coaching before, and today I give an example of those benefits in action; self-care, knowledge and reciprocity.

Just recently I completed my second half marathon, 21.1 km around the beautiful banks of the Derwent River. It was here, at this international timing event, that Jarrod displayed a stunning example of Peer Coaching in action for myself and many other runners, particularly as we faced the last 1.2km uphill homecoming climb. It is a nasty climb, but the fact that it concluded with an oversized Caramello Koala handing out chocolate bars, made it bearable…(just).

Peer Coaching in Action example no. 1. A few days before the race, Jarrod asked the members of my running group, the ‘SoleMates’,  what our goals and intentions were.We all contributed our proposed times, and many posted their fears and uncertainties as well. Jarrod had an uplifting comment for all of us, often reminding us of all the great things we had achieved in preparation so that now we were in a position where we could confidently contemplate running our registered distance and time.  Jarrod, I would like to add, isn’t the group ‘boss’. He is an ordinary member, just like me.

Peer Coaching in Action example no. 2. On race day, I asked Jarrod why he had two race bibs and tags. It appears that he had not only volunteered as a pace runner for the half marathon but the 10 km as well. That is over 30 km of running, folks.

Peer Coaching in Action example no. 3. Personally, I was pleased with my race day effort. As I commenced the climb up that final, nasty hill, I was under my intended time and had some energy stores remaining. I looked up, and there was Jarrod heading down towards me. He had finished his first 21.1km run 20 minutes earlier, (I know, fast? Right!!) and had now meandered back down the hill to support me, to run beside me as I headed home, hollering words of support and encouragement in line with my goal.

Some of my fellow SoleMates members were alongside the race track snapping photos for future memories. Emma managed to capture me coming up that hill, with Jarrod encouraging me all the way, and it stood out for me.

healthy happy staff penni lamprey

While it may look like Jarrod is telling me I am late for the coffee run and it’s my shout, he was acutely aware of my set time and goal.  He knew I was going to smash my intended time of 2 hours and 6 minutes and stayed a few paces ahead to encourage me to find something deeper. And I did. I now felt a huge rush of accountability to Jarrod and the other SoleMates waiting at the hilltop cheering me on. I sprinted home, crossing the line in 2hours and 1 minute, and into the arms of the giant chocolate bearing Koala!

Jarrod didn’t just make this particular trip for me. (Peer Coaching in Action example no. 4.). He did this hill trip a number of times for other runners, too – the ones he knew had goals and fears, and he supported us all home in the same manner. An hour later he ran a further 10km with others as a pace runner.

Why did Jarrod put all this effort into helping others? This wasn’t his race day. He has other fish to fry – Berlin, and that ocean cruise if you remember. Today was about supporting those around him who had their own vision.

Like all good peer coaches, Jarrod didn’t run the race for me or set my training plan or menu. I personally looked at the roles and responsibilities and what I needed to do to fulfil my vision of running  21.1 km. I found and joined ‘SoleMate’s, the peer support group which would help me achieve my goal, and planned accordingly. Everything was aligned to my vision of a Healthy & Happy Me, which on this occasion included a half marathon.

This demonstration of Jarrod’s Peer Coaching to me was an organic occurrence. Something tells me Jarrod is a highly trained gentleman with years of leadership and development training under his compression tights, and he could spot a lass with a goal a mile off. His support and actions, however, were undoubtedly a major factor in helping me to achieve my goal.

In your workplace, the Peer Coaching element of the Healthy Happy Staff program will take on a more structured approach – set times and coaching partners for a start. The program coordinator will be supported by the Healthy Happy HQ team, receiving weekly emails of checklists and activity ideas which will allow your workplace to embrace a shared responsibility of workplace health.

Moreover, because I feel valued and supported in the Solemates run group, I feel no need to look elsewhere for running partners or trainers, and nor will your Healthy Happy Staff once they too experience Peer Coaching in action. Intrinsic values such as self-care and reciprocation come into play here, and it’s difficult to put a price on those. Participants want to achieve for themselves, for those around them and ultimately, for your organisation.

If you would like to encourage your staff to engage in the health and wellbeing, please get in contact today and feel free to share this story with others who are also keen to engage the wellbeing of Australian businesses.

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