Do you really need a coach?

I found a facebook exchange between Dino and I from June 16th.  Less than 3 months out from the marathon and I was still only running 20 consecutive minutes.  I was trying to bargain for more run time and here’s what he said to me:

Me: Soooo… do you think I could do more than 20 minutes tomorrow? Or should I just stick with 20?

Dino: I think you could, but probably shouldn’t since you were experiencing discomfort just from walking! Keep it shorter tomorrow and go a little longer Wednesday if it feels okay.  I’ll look at the schedule again tonight when I have a computer and will make changes if I need to. Stick with 20 for now.

Me: Okay, I will try to be obedient! Really itching to be running around Burke Lake again. Tired of getting sweaty for 20 minute runs but I know it’s just part of the process…. the hard part!

Dino: Do you want to run around Burke Lake or run around Presque Isle on Sept 12?!

Me: I hate it when you do that.

Sometimes people ask me what training plan I’m using and I tell them I have a coach that sends me a monthly schedule.  And I kind of feel silly.  Because really, I’m no Olympian.  I’m not breaking any records or winning any races.  Who am I to need a coach?  The reality is that for a recreational runner like me, there is so much information out there regarding training, from beginner to advanced.  Lots of different methods to choose from: Hal Higdon, Jeff Galloway, McMillan, Hansons method, etc. etc. etc.  And we know the basic formula to marathon training, right?  Base building through easy runs, then every week we toss in a long run, a tempo run, some speed work, maybe some hills, some recovery miles.   I could piece it together for myself and end up with a decent training plan.  In fact that’s what I did in 2012 when I set my marathon PR.  It worked… for a while.

For me, the value in having a coach isn’t necessarily the schedule he sends me.  Not to say that’s not important, obviously it is, but I think the even more important part is the accountability.  And not just that, it’s someone a little more impartial than you are about your training saying some days, “Look, based on your last race, you should be able to do 800’s at xx pace.  You need to push yourself harder, you are capable of doing it,” and other days saying, “You need to reign it in a take it easy this week.  Don’t jeopardize your long term goals for one training run.”  It was that reason that I asked Dino if he’d be willing to make my training schedule for Erie.  I have a tendency to overdo it (shocking) and knew coming off surgery that I would need help figuring out a safe level of running while still building up enough mileage to finish 26.2 miles.  While I was running, I knew I’d have to log that run, so I was more likely to push through a tough run to finish the miles assigned and also more likely to back off when I was doing too much because I’d have to answer for it later.

Basically,  I think everyone can benefit from having a coach no matter what level runner you are or what your goals are.  And I think the most important thing to consider when looking for one is: do you trust this person?  If the answer is no, there’s zero point to continue because you will find excuses to deviate from the plan.  If the answer is yes, then you’ve found someone who will likely be a good fit.  I trusted that 20 minutes was what was right for me in June.  And in September, because of that trust, I was able to achieve my goal.

Interested in learning more about my coaching or in working with my coach?  Email me!

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