Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Why I Hired a Running Coach!

    A few months back, my coach asked me if I'd be interested in writing a guest post on his blog.  ((You can read it here if you're interested in seeing the original as I've changed a few things up for this post)) He had given me free reign to talk about anything I wanted and I had lots of ideas.  I chose to post about my reasoning for hiring a running coach and more so, why I chose Mat. I thought it might be nice to share my reasoning with all of my readers!  So here it is, happy reading :) 
Finishing the OK 5k in early June with a :40 second PR-- 3 weeks after I started with Nark Running Strategies

Sooooo, why did I decide to hire a running coach?   I have no plans to be an elite runner (even if I did have plans, I'm not sure they would come to fruition, I am just being honest here!).  Running coaches aren't just for experienced or elite runners.  They are for everyone. TRUST ME.  Whatever level of runner you are, whatever you are hoping to achieve (losing weight, running anything from a 5k to a marathon or Boston qualifying), everybody can gain something from hiring a good coach.   

    When I started running about 2 years ago, I didn't know many runners.  Actually,  I didn't know anything about running. I immersed myself into learning anything and everything I could.  I read every article, reached out to people via social media to ask questions and read tons of blogs (a few of my go-to's were The Athletarian, Hungry Runner Girl, Chic Runner and Jen Chooses Joy( she had a different name and was only on Insta, but soon she got a blog and it's the best!) .  I ran every training run solo.  I would get injured and still ran.  I would skip training runs.  It was mentally draining training through the summer for a marathon and not having anyone to keep me accountable or anyone to share in my whining and complaining on 20 mile runs in 90 degree heat. I didn't know how to run track workouts. I didn't know what a tempo run was, what a fartlek was or how to properly train for the goals I hoped to accomplish. Google was my friend ( ie: how to run yasso 800’s). I joined a local running club for a few track workouts and runs, but it just didn't seem for me.  I still had no idea what I was doing and I felt dumb asking how to do the workouts (Don’t feel dumb, please ask.  You’ll save yourself lots of time and frustration and probably make some friends).   I would attempt them on my own and give up because they were hard.  
I'm pretty confident in my track workouts now and I've made some friends, guys! SEE!! 
   After training for my 2nd marathon this past winter, I knew I wanted and needed more out of myself and my running.  I had talked to a local runner who I met via social media.   Allison  had joined Plaza Fitness/ Nark Running Strategies in January (she finished her 3rd Boston Marathon in 3:17:31 this year, which was a PR).  She had NOTHING but great things to say about the group and about her coach, Mat, and it sounded exactly what I was looking for.  When I checked out the facebook group, I noticed how they really motivated and encouraged each other and, let's be honest, how many PR’s were being achieved.  Falling just short of my BQ in April, I knew this was the time to get some help.

Allison and Deanne at mile 17.5 of this years Boston Marathon.
   There are tons and tons of different training plans out there and I know a lot of people who have had success doing it that way.  I find it more difficult because the training plan is generic.  It’s not tailored to my needs and goals.  Using a training plan that had no speed-work while training for NJ this year probably wasn’t the best choice for me when I was trying to earn a BQ.  And I didn’t meet that goal.  I had reached the point in my running where I did everything I knew how to do and couldn’t figure out how to push past the barrier.  I needed guidance and so after a few back forth emails and meeting Mat, I hired him to help me reach my goals.

  A running coach designs your training plan to optimize your performance and simultaneously minimize your injury risk.  I told Mat about my past training and what my goals were for the summer and for my fall marathon.  One thing I never made a priority was strength training so, in addition to coaching, I also signed on for two strength training classes a week.   I ran my first 5k 3 weeks after joining and had a :40 second PR.  I ran my 2nd 5k of the summer 2 weeks ago and PR'd again by 12 seconds.   

Coaches are the voice of reason and seem to be the only people on planet earth that can rein a runner in  and explain why recovery and rest are important parts of training.  And surprisingly, I listen 90% of the time.   My goals for this training cycle are a sub-21 5k. a sub 1:40 half and a sub 3:30 marathon in Chicago.  More than anything though, I’d like to continue through this training cycle injury free.  Something I NEVER(this is not an exaggeration) included in workouts was a warm-up and cool-down.  A good coach will make that a priority and every speed-workout I do, Mat includes both. Thanks for that!

  When you are injured less often, you can train more consistently.   Coaches keep you accountable and consistent. I believe that what sets apart good training versus great training is consistency.  When you train more consistent, you become a better runner and ultimately your coach can help you become faster and more fit than you ever thought possible.  Staying consistent means staying motivated and a coach keeps you on your toes and reminds you why you are working so hard. 

Wednesday team workouts-- Hill Repeats, in a cemetery, very appropriate. 
Long story long, if you’re having trouble figuring out your next step in your running, it’s probably time to hire a coach.  The great thing about hiring a coach is that they are accessible ANYWHERE.  Maybe you travel a lot or you like to get your run done in the mornings, you don’t need to have a coach physically by your side every moment of your training.  I'm lucky that my coach is accessible pretty much anytime and anywhere.  He also teach my strength classes that I attend twice a week, which is great!! More time to annoy him.  He also attends every track workout we do (Wednesdays at 6am, 10am and 6pm) and attends at least one groups long run every weekend.  We're kind of spoiled. What's even better is that because we run a lot of workouts together, attend classses at the same time and spend many hours on the weekends together running, I have some pretty fun new friends! #runningfriendsarethebestfriends .

   I have texted my coach at 6am (sorry) and at 10pm (sorry again) whenever I have a question about a workout or if I could possibly maybe run a race next weekend (the answer was no.) If you are dedicated about reaching a goal, willing to go the extra mile in your training then investing in a running coach is 100% worth it.  Do the research, ask questions and run fearless.  

If you're interested about learning more about my work with Nark Running Strategies, visit my blog over at and I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have!  If you're even more interested about joining us for group runs and training, check out the website or facebook for more info! 

Happy running friends! xoxo

Do you currently train with a coach?

What made you decide it was time to hire one?

Do you train with a group or solo?

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