When is it time to hire a coach? Answer: NOW!

So I did a thing a few weeks ago. I hired a coach. WHHHAAATTT??? I know.  I don’t even know who I am anymore. What prompted this very Adult-Runner decision was running yet another marathon –  and missing my mark. I ran Sugarloaf Marathon in Maine several weeks ago and while I didn’t have a horrible race, I did fall short of my goal. As per recent years, I trained using my beloved Hanson’s Marathon Method which kicks your ass, then hands it to you in a fatigued, sweaty heap.  You’re exhausted, but you are ready. Hanson’s is tough. As I know from experience, it’s quasi-unorthodox method works for me. At least it had until it didn’t. My training block went well this time around with Hanson’s.  I believe I only missed 2 runs due to minor injury,  but after reflecting on Sugarloaf, I felt like my training was missing something.  I ran the miles. I hit the paces. I checked off the boxes as I had in the past. I even had some really excellent tempo runs. But, it seemed like something was off. Did I have Hanson’s Fatigue? Was my body getting too used to this type of training?  Did I need something different to mix it up? My running needed SOMETHING more. *cue hiring Coach*

There are a million reasons why you fall short of reaching your goal. Physical, psychological, mother nature, the course, your stomach, your ankle, the stars not aligning properly, not wearing you’re lucky ponytail holder…..the list goes on, real or perceived. No matter how many marathons you’ve run, there is ALWAYS room for improvement. For me, after many cycles with Hanson’s, religiously following their sadistic program,  I felt like it was time for a change. Don’t get me wrong, Hanson’s got me all the way to Boston. It works, but now I feel like I’ve plateaued. It’s not you Hanson’s, it’s me.

its not you its me

Here’s the short list of why I hired a coach. Again, in the interest of full disclosure. I’m not some super-certified running guru. I’m just a girl with a blog who loves lobster rolls, IPAs and running. (A lot.) I’m also a girl who has goals. It’s been almost 2 weeks with my new coach and here’s why I’m loving my decision already.

  • Accountability. I never really had a tough time being held accountable. I documented my running exploits often on this little blog.  I put it out there. But something about having a Running Table for Two makes the accountability even more real. It’s keeping me honest and completely on-task. My Garmin uploads directly to the training app we use the moment I hit save. I can count on feedback within the hour. It’s magical.
  • Interaction. This is key. Having someone to really talk to about your runs, how you’re feeling and where you’re at is something I am finding invaluable. For instance, I had a horrible cold last week. Previously I would have just plowed on through. It’s on the schedule, therefore I must run in spite of this hacking cough! Let’s be honest, we runners are terrible patients. With my coach, he adjusted my workout based on my need. As a result, I had a much better speed workout because I was rested. Who knew? (I’m laughing. We all know. We just don’t do it. Until someone we respect tells us to. Directly.)
  • Fit. If you are going to choose a coach, make sure it’s the right coach for you. I spoke with several of of my coach’s clients – super fast, fast and downright normal runners – and got feedback from each one. Pluses, minuses, likes, dislikes, whether or not they improved- anything I could think of.  Usually coaches have options available.  Whether they put together an individual plan for you or have one on one coaching with feedback – there are usually multiple plans to choose from ranging in  the amount of interaction and cost to fit your budget.
  • Variability. I am digging the variability in the workouts! I mean, it’s running. You run. How fun can it be? OH BUT WAIT, POODLE! It really can be fun!  Mixing up speeds, times, distances, surges, intervals- it’s not just the same old same old. In order to get fast, you need to run fast. And I ‘m learning that there are MANY ways to do so. It’s like a breath of fresh air.
  • Permission. Here’s a surprising one. Like I mentioned before, I was sick all week. I had a full running week as well as a 50 mile bike ride on Saturday and a long run on Sunday. My coach messaged me and wished me luck for Saturday’s ride then added – let’s see how you feel for Sunday. I’d rather have you get some extra rest. I don’t want this cough to linger. So instead of running long, I ran easy and short, just enough to shake out the legs. It may sound silly, but if I’m going to follow a plan, I FOLLOW THE PLAN. I spent 13 years in Catholic school. Discipline and guilt run strong up in here. I wasn’t slacking. I was sick and resting. I’m sure we can do a full on psychoanalysis of this another time,  but being given permission to sit on the couch and catch up on Real Housewives instead of slogging through a run just to get the miles in, meant an awful lot to me. It was a stress lifted. Permission granted and accepted.
  • Motivation. I have been more inspired to run in the past several weeks than I have in a very long time. I attribute that to the decision to hire a coach. It’s new. It’s fresh. And I am excited! Running was starting to feel like a chore for me. It was sapping the fun out of it. Even though you have big goals and are serious about what you’re doing, doesn’t mean that you have to be miserable doing it. Just keep that in mind. 🙂

Have you thought about hiring a coach? Do you have one? Are you one?! What would you look for in hiring a coach? Do you love lobster rolls as much as I do? 

21 thoughts on “When is it time to hire a coach? Answer: NOW!

  1. I never had a coach, but my running mates used to push me all the way. We probably over-trained, but that was in the (good?) old days. It must have worked for us as our times would stand up pretty well today. Good luck with your training, it sounds like fun, and don’t forget to keep us updated on progress.

    • Having running mates is clutch! You’re like a badass team! I’m very much a lone wolf runner. My other half runs and is super fast so “running” with him is not really a thing. And thank you! I’m super excited about it. It was time for something new!

  2. I think it is awesome that you hired a coach! Switches things up. Breathes new life into your training. But I’m even happier that you made that decision that YOU ARE WORTH IT! It’s our year, after all! You got this! xxoooT

  3. Congrats on taking the coaching plunge. Sometimes it’s easier to train when someone says go do this and you have to go do that or this or whatever the coach said instead of talking yourself out of doing what you are supposed to be doing. Been there and done that many times.
    On another topic and I know that you may not know this and certainly have no control over the ads on your site but on Safari your site displays an ad from America’s #1 Gut Doctor begging me to throw out this one vegetable. There is a picture that looks fairly disgusting like a snake chopped in half and million little snakes trying to escape. I actually followed that link once and after 20 minutes of nonsense I gave up because the #1 Gut Doctor in America was talking in circles, maybe he had snakes in his #1 brain, he made absolutely no sense and I never did find out which vegetable Dr. Uno wants me to toss. Does anyone know what the hell he’s talking about? I find it pretty incomprehensible that any vegetable can be bad for you even if it’s not endorsed by The Primo MD in the US of A.
    I know that if I hired a coach it sure wouldn’t be the #1 Gut Doctor in America. I’d like to know who else is in the top ten. Who is the worst Gut Doctor in America? I don’t recall seeing a listing in the yellow pages for Gut Doctors. I got your Lawn Doctor, The Rug Doctor, The Clock Doctor, The I’m in Hock Doctor, Dr. Oz, Dr. No, Doctor My Eyes and there’s even an ad for a lawyer who is also an MD so he can ostensibly sue himself and take the stand on his own behalf. Thank you. I’m done.

    • Maybe I should have followed up with the No. 1 Gut Doctor as the 10th mile of my coach prescribed run was something straight out of her textbook. Is running dysentery a thing? I’m messaging her now.

  4. Oh wow… yeah, this is a neat post to get me thinking about my own choices. You’re actually the one who got me into Hansons’ and while it was awesome the first cycle, something was off the second. I kept trying to go faster than the recommended paces and ended up anaerobically on fire, but with less aerobic strength. I’m thinking of doing something differently for the next marathon. Is your coach purely online, or do you also meet? I may start looking around… what are the pluses and minuses if your coach (assuming they don’t read this 😉

    • I did?!? I’m glad it worked for you! It definitely worked for me. I think one of the big things that I know I wasn’t doing properly was running my easy runs- EASY. Even now with a coach I have trouble doing that and he lets me know to slow the eff down. It’s funny because I’m not a naturally super speedy gal. Doing something different is a good thing. Keeping in mind you can always go back to a program that was successful for you. He and I have never met! We have an exclusive on line “relationship” – and then I swiped right. 😉 He’s in Mass and I’m in CT. All of our interaction is online/text/email/app based. He uses an app – Final Surge that syncs with my Garmin. And I provide feedback and he comments and adjusts. We “speak” daily. He’s great. Pluses- super motivating, super attentive and also gives me a variety of work outs. Negatives? I’d say they’re more on me – I get frustrated if I don’t “nail” his paces but it’s not that I think they’re too fast. I think I have work to do. I don’t really have a negative yet! Time will tell. I mean, the cost? But I think it’s worth it and within my budget. I’ll let you know how it goes! Give it some thought. It’s really breathed new life into my running. The motivation factor is super high! 😊

  5. Pingback: Today’s Lesson: You gotta run fast, to get fast. | It's A Marathon AND A Sprint

  6. Love it!!! I used a coach and she was instrumental in me getting my Boston Qualifier. But I found that when I wasn’t training for a big goal, the coaching wasn’t as helpful to me….long story, lol!

    • Funny you should say that. And I thought of you when I hired mine. I’m just going to stick with him through this marathon. Then I’ll regroup and probably hire him for whatever I decide is next. I’m still loving marathons. But I also would love to work on my half marathon a bit. And trails running – which i suck at but love!

  7. Pingback: Lessons in Running: I am invincible! Until I’m not. | It's A Marathon AND A Sprint

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