Coaching Profile – Dani Bryan

How and when did you first get involved in athletics?

I was a late bloomer to running, starting on my 23rd birthday. I wanted the feeling of being free. I quickly learnt that I liked helping people improve their health and fitness. Ultimately, this is what initiated my return to uni and then becoming a coach.

What or who inspired you to start coaching? 

Campbell Maffett from Collingwood Harriers and founder of Love The Run. He was my first run coach and I was a loyal stead for 15 years! His genuine passion for helping runners achieve their goals was admirable and I found myself asking questions, wanting to learn more. 

Who are you currently coaching? What are your objectives as a squad? 

I am head coach at Run Like A Girl Australia (RLAG). I also coach men and women online. It varies from complete beginners to ultra marathoners. At RLAG, we’re all about providing an inclusive, supportive and safe environment whilst providing structured training in a social group. I aim to focus on quality before anything else, flouting the idea of “it in for a long time, not a short time”. Movement for life. 

What has been your proudest moment as a coach / how did you achieve it? 

Watching a bunch of the RLAG crew cross the finish line at the Melbourne Half Marathon mostly together. For many of them, it was the first time. This was the beginning of their love of distance, some going on to run their first marathon this year. Another proud moment continues to be the annual [mo]re than a run event I host with the local running community. RLAG members get right behind me every time and it just shows what we’ve created together is special. 

What advice would you give to developing coaches – what lessons have you learnt from your experience? 

LEARN to coach everyone before deciding whether to specialise. To get the results the runner wants, you need to be able to relate and really hear them. All needs are different and one size definitely does not fit all. There are many ways to get to the same result. Keep LEARNING. Read current literature, network with other coaches, share knowledge. 

What motivates/inspires you to continue coaching? 

I love community and I love helping people achieve their goals. Their pride of achievement tickles me pink. Equally, I really love coaching someone out of their set backs and back to doing what they love. 

How has being part of a club made your coaching experience more fulfilling? 

Coaching has given me the opportunity to create a community. Watching this group evolve, grow and connect has given me a great sense of fulfilment. 

How have you worked with other coaches in your club to get the best results for your athletes? 

All coaches are across what everyone’s program looks like. We pride our coaching on communication amongst all. Our coaches are on the frontline of every runner’s journey. Having the coaches rotate between squads has been key to building genuine community across all skill levels. One of our coaches is our Community Captain and focuses on all things social and event based. We have a team banter WhatsApp group and an events WhatsApp group. We all communicate about our athletes’ training in a coaches chat, so nothing is missed. We turn to each other when we don’t know what actions to take and how to adapt plans. 

Who has provided mentoring and/or support to you as a coach in your journey? How has this improved your experience as a coach? 

Campbell Maffett mentored my for 10+yrs. I think I was always destined to coach. I always asked why. I wanted to see all the connecting links and understand the physiological impact. He encouraged me to coach myself and even as a coach, I felt I needed one to push to unknown territory. It is always good to have outside perspective. So after some time, Tim Crosbie took me under his wing as a runner, educator and fellow coach. 

Have you been involved in developing younger/newer coaches? How have you found that experience? 

Run Like A Girl grew in size quite quickly. At some point we reached a huge variability in training groups and distance goals. We had to break off into sub groups that required more coaches. Longstanding members innately saw this need and began directing less experienced runners. I saw this as an opportunity to recruit coaches from within. Our team of coaches all go through the Athletics Australia’s Level 1 Recreational Running Coach course. They also go through a 3 month induction process where they learn how to coach all groups and all distances. On occasion, we are able to recruit externally. The process of recruiting within is quite humbling because they genuinely want to do it. They are already heavily invested in the group and love that they can grow as a coach and runner through the collective of shared knowledge and experience

I really enjoy this organic process. It’s been the premise behind our growth as a brand. Always been organic with word of mouth referrals. That’s so refreshing and reassuring that we are doing great things. I truly believe that many hands make light work for all involved and makes for a smoother operation.