run, rest, eat, bitch, buy things, cross-train, blog, repeat.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Benefits of Having a Coach

I've had this post in my "drafts" folder for a long time. After talking to some friends this weekend about whether or not they should consider hiring a coach, I decided to to clean it up a bit and post it.

This is my story. Having a coach works for me, but it wouldn't work for everyone. The most important parts of a relationship with a coach are trust and respect. You have to be willing to throw everything that YOU think about training out the window, and willingly give a block of your training over to them. For a control freak like myself, trusting someone else to tell me what to do (and probably more importantly for me... what NOT to do) was/is the scariest part. Which is why you have to really respect your coach: as an athlete and as a person. The fact that I respect my coach, means I trust her, and that means that I willingly follow her plans. (Not without some bitching and moaning along the way, of course. Speedwork by myself???? GROAN).

Not only do I get to piss and moan over email,
but I followed that bitch out to Cali.

Looking back, the decision was easy. I had been training on my own for years and... what did I have to show for it? A bunch of races that were basically endurance/training runs. I'm not an idiot, I KINDA know what I'm supposed to do in training (although, there is always so much more to learn), but putting training weeks together, figuring out paces, following through on the training, etc... that's really hard for me.

So, here are the benefits that I get from having a coach.

1. Someone to tell you "hell no, bitch."
If I didn't have a coach, I can assure you that my 2012 would have looked MUCH different. I would have ran the full marathon in Montana, the full in Santa Rosa, I would have ran the Stumpjump 50k and I would be signed up for the Monkey Marathon in November. And for what? Just to rack up some more races, because I am unable to say no. And what would I have to show for those races? More shitty race shirts and medals and a beaten down body? No, thanks. Am I disappointed about missing any of those races? Not really. I want a marathon PR way more than I want anything else.

If only I could have Ron Swanson as my Life Coach.

People ask me, a LOT... "do you always do what your coach tells you?" and I say "Not always." But, in truth, I really try to. Otherwise I'm wasting her time and mine. TRUST and RESPECT, bitches.

2. Accountability.
Obviously. I could use any plan on the internet and it might work... but, I'm pretty sure that Hal Higdon isn't going to be checking on my log everyday. When I know I've done something bad (last week's interval workout), I can almost hear her in my head, tsk, tsking. And when I wake up on a Sunday morning and am tired as fuck and don't want to run, I get up and get my ass out there. 

3. Giving up Control and just running.
So, yeah, it's hard to give up control... but once you do... it's so freaking refreshing. All I have to do is follow the plan. I don't have to worry about whether or not I should have done a shorter tempo run last week, or how many miles my long run should be 16 weeks out from the race. I just have to run.

4. Not getting overwhelmed or ahead of yourself.
My favorite thing about my training is that I get my training schedule one week at a time. When I had followed training plans in the past, I got so wrapped up in... Ohhhh.. well what happens next week, and what about that week that I'm going to be out of town, etc. And OMG how do I incorporate this half marathon I signed up for in my training? I am easily overwhelmed and I would get freaked out and that would make me lazy and since I knew that next week I was running 16 miles, I would just run 12 miles instead and sit on my couch for those other 40 minutes eating popcorn and drinking beer. One week at a time. So much easier to handle. 

5. Knowledge.
I understand certain things about running. I do not understand certain things about running faster. I have had to ask my coach MANY times what the hell a "stride" is. 

6. PRs.
In my first go around with my coach, I PRed in the 5K, 10K, and my goal race of the Half Marathon. Uhhh... hard to argue with the numbers.

7. Fun.
I could go on and on... My coach has stepped in as a therapist, she's become a close friend, and a teammate and running partner (Run Bitches!). And honestly, it's way more fun to be training "with" someone. I always talk about how it takes a TEAM to get me PRs and it's true. I am a slow and lazy dumbfuck on my own and it takes more than just ME to get me across a finish line in goal time.

Yay for coaches!

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