May 23, 2012

Moving Forward

Big news- I hired a coach. It's a decision I've been mulling over for six months, actually.  Over the past year, I've been a bit more stagnant in my racing results as I would've liked. After reflecting a LOT on my training and performances, I realized it was time to change things up. The problem was that I didn't really know *how* to change or what to add or take away. I've been self-coached for a LONG time, and tried (at some point) most of the cookie cutter training plans- Jack Daniels, Higdon, Hudson, and my true love- Pfitzinger. I did have a friend design a training plan for me a few years ago. He was toying with the idea of coaching as a (hopefully) career and used me as his guinea pig. Unfortunately, I did not finish the training cycle due to injury and then he decided to pursue an even different profession.

Prior to hiring a coach, I made a list of reasons or things that I want from a coach. I did this before even looking at my options.

*I wanted more than someone to just write me a plan. Honestly, i could probably write my own training plan. That part isn't *that* hard, if you have the experience. I've even made training plans for a few beginner runners.

*I wanted someone that would hopefully recognize my weaknesses as a runner and help me to work through them. I knew I wasn't getting faster, but I just couldn't pinpoint why.

*I wanted someone to turn to when little "situations" come up that could give me good, objective, educated advice. For example, after my Pensacola Marathon meltdown, I didn't really know how to return to training. Same thing when I do marathons that are fairly close together. I've been using Pfitzinger "Between Marathon" plan, but maybe there is more I could do to perform better.

*I also wanted to look for someone that could possibly balance me. For example- sometimes I melt down during a race or just sandbag it. I also have a habit of overworking with workouts, mileage, or just not resting in general. I believe the right person can help me channel those things into a positive training and racing experience.

*Lastly, I wanted someone to take control of my running for awhile (maybe forever). Planning for myself and constantly wondering if I was doing the right thing was tiring me out. I am ready to trust someone else with it for awhile.

So... I looked into 3 avenues- 2 coaches that I found from Brooks ID and then the local running store manager that coaches MANY of my local running buddies.

I ended up choosing the guy I somewhat knew from Brooks for a few reasons (besides those listed above)- I knew from forums that he was honest and not afraid to share his opinion. This is important to me b/c I want badly for someone to boss me around and give me constructive feedback. This will also help me trust that person when I receive a compliment. (I know he doesn't BS around.) I also know that he has coached a lot of runners to PRs, and many have made huge gains in the marathon (and likely other distances).  The other guy that I knew from Brooks is a new coach, and he is likely great, too. With that being said, I'm not big on people that constantly promote their business. I kind of felt like his coaching business was more of a cookie-cutter (this works for everyone) plan. My main reason for NOT hiring the local guy was that I don't know a single experienced runner that has PRed under him. I do like that he is at ALL the races and many workouts. I think that kind of coach is also valuable. The old saying goes, though, proof is in the pudding. Also, this sounds snobby, but he only coaches one PERSON faster than me, and that's a guy. I realize that the type of performance I want might require me to "take it to the next level" and will require a more rigorous training plan.

And... I am now in Week 2 of being coached. I'll be honest when I say that first week was kind of rough, but in a very good way. He noted right off that I lack a lot of flexibility in my hip area. He gave me several videos to do before and after runs/workouts to address this weekend. I'm quite pleased with this approach b/c 1) it's something that addresses ME specifically and 2) it showed me right off that he was paying attention to me and 3) I hired him b/c I'm looking for NEW ideas and ways to improve. This was something VERY new to me. My workouts for last week (aside from the drills) we tough, but typical- a track workout, a tempo, and a decent LR.

School-wise... I AM SO READY TO BE DONE!!!!! This class has nearly put me over the edge. I mean, really, out.of.control.

Run Happy, friends!


  1. Oooh- so exciting! I really hope this coach can tailor a program just to your needs. When you're at your level, it's difficult to pinpoint exactly what needs to be done. Please keep us posted!

  2. How awesome that you are willing to take this step. You really researched this thing well, and so smart for you to list WHY you want a coach. Getting a second perspective (That is honest) is enough reason for a coach.

    I need a link to the hip flexibility video! Starting to think I just need a new right leg actually. ha.

  3. Hope the coach works out for you. I found that the difference in behavior from 4th-5th grade is huge. I sure hope that you will be allowed to go down a grade. No way you should have to put up with that crap.

  4. I am excited for you!!! And I really like who you picked. He was one that I almost went with. You are so fast already and I am sure that having a new coach, new workouts, new perspective, new support, etc. will lead to big progress! I have only been working with my coach since the end of March but I have really loved it and there are many benefits, especially when you find the perfect fit. Congrats!!!! Can't wait to see all that you accomplish. :)

  5. This just may be one of my fave posts or yours! Your reasons for making the next step are valid and your honesty about it can help other runners who read this.

    What's scary is that you are already so fast and have an unbelievable work ethic-I can only imagine what you can do with some guidance, and ahem, flexibility!! LOL Perhaps you can teach me some of those drills in a couple weeks:)

    Seriously though, he's lucky to coach you-and I can't wait to hear about YOUR progress in the upcoming races!

  6. Anonymous5/24/2012

    So happy for you! I look forward to hearing more about your training and what you will accomplish.

  7. Very happy for you! A good coach is so valuable!

  8. I'm so behind in my reading, what a pleasure to find this gem! Girlfriend, this is the best thing you could do for yourself, hands down. You have reached such a high level by doing it on your own that I truly believe this is the one thing that will take you over the line and into a constant state of sub3s. Honestly. Because once you do that one thing, I'm quite positive it'll be second nature. There's no question in my mind that you have the goods, you just need some fine-tuned steering now. Congratulations, sweetie, can't wait to see the good that comes from this, of which there will be tons!

  9. The possibility of getting one has crossed my mind a couple times this past year. I hope it works out for you and you can smash a couple of those big numbers you've been chasing. :)

  10. Anonymous6/11/2012

    I really like your approach to mapping out your coach expectations prior to assessing actual coaches. And it looks like you selected the right type of coach for you. I'm interested in how your workouts progress and what you feel about it from an interpersonal level. Good luck with your work on the next level!!