Knox Robinson isn’t your typical endurance coach. Before he ran workouts he ran bands, managing indie artists and musicians like Theophilus London and BLK JKS (at one point he even edited a hip-hop mag, The Fader). These days he rides herd on a whole different sort of group as co-founder and captain of the Black Roses, a crew of tattooed amateur New York City runners who routinely gather to hammer out intervals (or unsanctioned half-marathons through downtown Manhattan), then go slurp ramen and drink beer.
As a competitor, Robinson is no slouch himself: He competed for Wake Forest University and has a 2:36 marathon personal record. And when he’s not out running with the Black Roses (or palling around with his buddy, 2012 Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano), he dispenses wisdom as a paid coach for the Nike+ NYC Live running initiative.
According to Robinson, whether you’re a Boston qualifier or just a dude trying out his first 10K, running is first and foremost a mental sport. Here, his tips for getting your program on track by getting your head in the right place.
So what knowledge do you have that runners actually need?
I believe in running “on feel” and coach around the concept of feel as an organizing principle.
When you’re on the starting line of a race—or in the middle of the woods on a trail run—you need to know what your mind and body are doing at any given point without a coach talking in your ear, your best bud pacing you, or your favorite app telling you how to go about it.
I like to think I’m helping runners understand who they are and what they’re capable of.