My name is Dave Sollis (aka Coach D) and I’m a UK Athletics qualified and licensed Coach in Running Fitness (CiRF) and Endurance Event Group Coach. I’ve been a regular recreational runner for 30+ years and as far as running races from 5k to marathon is concerned – I’ve been there seen it, done it, got the medals, t-shirts, blisters, lost toenails to prove it and dealt with my fair share of injuries along the way too.
I’m passionate about helping people get started with running, to get healthier and happier and to stay injury-free, so they can realise their true running potential. I particularly enjoy working with novice runners in the 40+ age range. As the difference I’ve witnessed running make to their lives is truly inspirational.
I’m not the fastest runner that ever lived and I’ve never had the luxury of being able to train fulltime like an elite athlete. Like most mid-to-back-of-the-pack runners, I’ve always had to fit my running in around work and family commitments and have a few additional challenges to be mindful of these days too:
Well, I’ve been a runner basically all of my life. I was one of the rare kids at my school that actually enjoyed cross country runs. I wasn’t any good or particularly fast, but I could get in a rhythm and zone out. Running gave me my first ever experience of ‘flow’ and I loved it. Besides – I sucked at just about every other sport and was always the last to get picked by classmates for team games.
When I was 19 I got into martial arts and would run 2 to 3 times a week as a supplemental fitness training activity. I decided to give up martial arts in the early 1990s after I damaged my left knee whilst sparring. The injury was made a lot worse on my stag night, resulting in a couple of operations:
Actually it’s not all bad news, as I later found tai chi (much kinder on the joints). So I’m still a bad-ass fighting machine – I just fight in slow-mo' now...
Following the knee damage incidents I started to concentrate more on my running again. I entering road races to give my running a bit of focus and at the same time raised money for charity to add purpose. At the time I didn’t have a clue what I was doing or how to put a decent training plan together. I’d just go out and run, build my distance until it approximately matched the race I’d entered and hope for the best.
Over time I got curious as to how I could improve my race times, so set about learning as much as I could about the science, physiology and psychology of running performance. This was before the internet existed, so it involved reading books. I consumed most of the modern day classics (Daniels, Lydiard, Noakes) and subscribed to some running magazines too.
I then experimented on myself by trying out the various workouts, techniques and tactics I’d read about. My race performances improved dramatically and I became known to friends and family as a bit of a ‘running nutter’ and font of knowledge about running and fitness. People would come to me for advice, which I gave, but always felt like I wasn’t 'suitably qualified’ to give it. So, eventually I decided to get the qualifications for peace-of-mind.
Not long after getting my first coaching qualification, I set up a local running group and things snowballed from there.
The group was soon sponsored by the local council and I was quickly joined by 3 other volunteer coaches/run leaders. We all worked hard to provide a great service for people of all ages looking to get into running. The numbers of runners we helped grew rapidly and we received ‘Health Project of the Year award’, in recognition for the health benefits (both physical and mental) we delivered to the local community. Our group continues to go from strength-to-strength and we've recruited even more run-leaders recently.
I’ve helped many people, to start running, improve, run their first races, obtain new PBs and move up to bigger challenges (including marathons and ultras). I coached a charity team to run the 2017 London Marathon (198 runners who raised over £400k!). As these individuals were located all over the UK and with a few overseas too, the coaching involved using online group chats and video plus a couple of face to face days. That experience gave me the idea for Running Directions.
I started Running Directions, with the intention of being able to reach far more people all over the English speaking world and help them to fulfil their running potential. And to build and serve a supportive online community of ‘older’ runners - by providing:
You’ll also get first dibs on special offers and discounts on new courses, product launches, invitations to any of my online offerings and potentially some in-person face-to-face workshops. So if you want to get more Direction in your Running - sign-up below: