What I Learned Working with a Running Coach

Happy Friday all and welcome April! This year seems to be flying by. For this first Friday of the month Cynthia, Courtney and I are talking fitness. I’ve got a race coming up this weekend, the April Fools Half in Atlantic City. If you’ve been following me you know I worked with a running coach (Hi, Suz!) the past 10+ weeks to train for this race. I was in a major running rut in 2015 and felt I needed something that I just wasn’t providing for myself. Here are 5 lessons I learned working with a running coach: Lessons Learned working with Running Coach marontherun.com

Accountability is a big motivator. Sure I’ve run 28 half marathons (whoa) and countless other races. Some with training plans, some without; some with big goals and others not. But even during the best of times if there was a run on my schedule and I wasn’t in the mood – I could easily talk myself out of it or switch up the mileage. Having Suz’s plan on my computer, staring me in the face every day, knowing that someone out there wrote this for me with my goals and best interests in mind and I had to record what I did was motivation enough to get that workout in. Of the 40ish runs on my schedule this cycle – I only missed one easy run (due to travel) and DNF one (due to illness). All in all I was excited every day to tackle that workout and that is huge! 

Easy runs are important. The last couple of training cycles I had been running 3 days a week without much regard to my pace (except speed work) yet not seeing much change. This cycle had me running 4 days a week. At first I was worried about upping that number but incorporating easy runs was great in terms of keeping my body from overdoing it and tackling those miles. My body adjusted pretty quickly. Besides, making it through this cycle with no pains or injury is reason enough to celebrate. πŸ˜‰ 

Hills stink, but running them works. I cringed every time I saw hill repeats on my schedule. They are without a doubt hard. But they’re also effective. During the Rock n’ Roll DC half I tackled the steep hill (mini mountain) at mile 6, surprising myself by running up it the entire way. Then a couple weeks ago I ran a 12 miler and managed the hills in Rock Creek Park with ease. While Jake’s heavy weighted squats also had an impact I wouldn’t have accomplished either of those hill runs without the hill repeat work I’ve done.  Do something today marontherun.com

Goals can be adjusted. While I went into this arrangement with sub-2 in mind time isn’t everything. Coach said pretty much from the beginning that her goal for me was to enjoy the process and come out stronger. That’s not to say that I’m not gunning for a time, sub-2 included, this weekend (and we’ve discussed my approach to the race itself) but my mindset when this all started was not in a good place. Comparison is the thief of joy and I couldn’t stop comparing the 2016 me to the 2013 me. A lot has changed in 3 years but with Suz’s help I was able to meet me where I was and start anew. Through this I’ve learned to love the process again and I’m SO EXCITED for the weekend (40 degrees, wind and all – boo!)   

Most importantly, I still love running. As I mentioned above, there was a period of time where I was just not in love with this sport but I kept forcing it because – it’s running! For a long time running had been the one thing I could always count on to make me feel good. The mental game became a huge challenge – never mind any of the physical issues I was having. Working with Suz (and Jake) in a more focused way helped me get stronger, appreciate what my body can do, and appreciate running itself. 

No matter what happens this weekend the journey I’ve been on the past few months has been great. I feel accomplished, stronger, have a renewed sense of self and confidence in my abilities and passion for running (and fitness overall). If any one were to ask me if hiring a running coach was worth it – my answer would be a thousand times yes.  

What’s on tap for the weekend? Do you incorporate easy runs into training? Have you ever worked with or considered working with a running coach? 

DC Trifecta Friday Five linkup

70 thoughts on “What I Learned Working with a Running Coach

  1. I have never worked w a running coach but I can see where they would hold you accountable. If they post a workout to do you want to fulfill your assignment. This wkend I am heading down to AC for the 11k race. Goodluck in your half this wkend!

  2. Love to read the positivity in your post Mar ! Have a great race and I am sure you will rock it !
    A 3 to 4 runs / week schedule has worked well for me.

  3. Good luck with your race! I’m sure you’ll crush it! Sounds like a fun one. I used to have a coach in a group, more than anything being part of a group with a scheduled workout was helpful to see that I that I had to be consistent to get back in shape and that I could push myself at this age and improve.

  4. I’ve definitely considered working with my coach — just see my blog, LOL!

    Accountability is why WW meetings work with me. I don’t need it with running — having that goal to run a half in every state still really motivates me, and unless I’m sick or injured, I never miss a run & I never cut them short.

    I do like having someone else do my plan so I don’t have to think about it!

    Good luck this weekend. Wind, 20s, & snow is forecast for my race/long run Sunday!

  5. I absolutely love having a coach and she has certainly helped me in more ways than I could imagine. Having a training plan and doing it on my own worked, but having a coach has been helpful for all the little things that I either did not know about or considered unimportant, i.e. rest recovery and others. Just yesterday, she called me after track practice because the usual group of runners I run with was not there due to recent races. I was out of my comfort zone with a faster group and she wanted me to know she was really excited about my effort and performance. Day made! πŸ™‚

  6. As a running coach myself, I can’t help but love this post πŸ™‚ I am so happy to hear you’ve gotten so much out of working with one. Good luck this weekend!! Sounds like you’re stronger and ready for it!!

  7. Reading this post, I couldn’t be happier. When you came to me, you were running, but only becaus you had to. Now, I feel with complete certainty that you are running because you want to (and yes, sometimes because I tell you, but then you finish feeling so accomplished!). You have a big month of races ahead of you, but we have prepared you well. I hope that the weather this weekend cooperates, but either way, just know how proud I am of you!

  8. I have worked with a coach before and found it to be so helpful, especially on the accountability. Good luck this weekend!

  9. If I run another full, I’ll work with a coach for sure. Jury is still out for another half…being that I still feel like running is “new” again for me, I’m just enjoying that. I love easy runs but I think I often do too many easy or not pace driven runs during marathon training because I always justify that I’m tired, training for a marathon, etc. Lame but true! Glad you are feeling strong and ready to rock this weekend!!

    1. that’s where I was – I felt the need to start over so hiring a coach helped me out a lot in that aspect. I’m probably never doing another marathon so figured let’s get this running thing figured out!

  10. I am “this close” to seeking out a coach. My problem? Giving up that control….and I”m not a type-A LOL I think having a subjective perspective would be a great twist to my training. Thanks for the great info!

  11. Yay for Suz!! She is awesome. Love this post – especially number 5. Running LA for run reminded me how much I love running. I hope your April Fool’s half isn’t 13.5 miles or some other trick πŸ˜‰

  12. I started working with a triathlon coach this year and what a game changer! I like the motivation I get and that the workouts are emailed to me everyday.

  13. I am considering a running coach if I decide to run a Fall Half. Sounds like you have a good oe. I have heard nothing but great things about Suz πŸ˜‰

    Sounds like you worked hard and are ready to run a great race this weekend!

    Good luck and have fun!

  14. Glad to hear working with Suz helped! The mental aspect is so huge. Crossing my fingers for you this weekend, weather be damned!! Go get it!

  15. I’ve never worked with a coach, but I use training plans a lot. I always make sure there’s at least one easy run each week, so I’m not pounding my legs on every run.

  16. I’ve definitely considered a coach & it’s seriously on my radar. I’m having a hard time justifying the cost for something that I consider to be just a hobby. I also want to find someone I really mesh with. Who gets me as a person & why I run & how to help me. I feel like that could be hard to just conjure up.

    1. I get that it’s a hobby but it’s also something I enjoy and wanted to get better and stronger. I just made the effort in terms of funds but you gotta do what works for you!

  17. I too find accountability to be a huge source of motivation, whether that’s reporting to somebody else or just keeping my training log up to date. Nobody likes to have to admit when they’ve missed planned workouts unless there was a valid reason for it.

  18. I haven’t worked with a running coach… but might start as I start training for my first marathon. I really want to do that one right and not be miserable. I do incorporate easy runs as part of my training… and those are usually the ones I run with my dogs.

  19. Your paragraph on adjusting goals really spoke to me! That was my biggest issue with the last race I ran and with looking ahead to future runs. I’ve had a hard time wrapping my head around the whole point of running if I’m not aiming to set a PR. What a great thing for a running coach to reset your thinking!

  20. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of working with the coach…just hasn’t really been in the budget. I’ve never really struggled to hold myself accountable with my training, although goodness knows I could be a lot better about some things. I do really like the idea of not having to think about and plan my workouts – someone has done it for me!

    Best of luck this weekend. I think you will surprise yourself and really crush your goal. I also have a half marathon tomorrow (not a goal race) and it is also supposed to be really windy (and maybe snowy too!) – not looking forward to that.

  21. I agree with easy runs being a valuable part of your training plan. Great to hear you learned a lot from your coach. I’ve never worked one on one with a coach however the San Diego Track Club training program is ran by an awesome coach, Coach Greer who is motivational and gives solid advice. Best of luck with the April Fool’s Half1

  22. never used a running coach but would def consider it and actually enjoy it!! love the Suz also, so nice that you’re working with her.

  23. I really identify with your last point about the mental challenges of running… it’s not always easy to love, but recognizing the good it does both physically and mentally makes it easier!

  24. Love this post and your passion and excitement shows! I’m so glad that you found what you might not have been looking for. Best of luck in that race! The journey may be more important than the destination this time around though!

  25. I have worked with a running coach before and had a less than amazing experience. I think I didn’t interview her enough and jumped in too soon. I didn’t know how stressful her life was and how many other athletes she had that took away from my own training. Had I known that, I probably wouldn’t have asked her, because she made me feel like a burden to her πŸ™ I’m glad you found one that works for you!

    1. Yeah, you’ve got to mesh with the person for sure. I knew Suz beforehand and have been with my personal trainer for awhile. Chemistry is half the working relationship!

  26. I haven’t worked with a running coach, for my own running, but for my first coaching job Jeff Galloway held workshops for the other coaches and me who were using his run/walk/run training method! That was really cool! Since then I’ve coached over 100 marathoners across the finish line – some using his method.

    Thanks for the linkup!

  27. i started working with a coach in Oct and have loved it so far! Basically, it is grea tot have someone do the planning out of what I need to do and also tell me my paces. I have learned that slow runs/easy runs are so crucial and the basis for so much-I have seen so much improvement from that

  28. I really enjoyed working with a running coach because of the accountability factor. Sometimes it did take a lot of effort to get myself out there. I had a coaching break but will start up again for marathon training!

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