It’s not because I am crazy fast, or trying to break any records, or win any races, or qualify for Boston, or any of that jazz. So why then does a normal, average runner like me need a run coach? Because I have been going about it all wrong. Turns out I have been making some pretty bad decisions and my body has been paying for them. Funny thing is, I didn’t even realize the error in my logic until numerous people started pointing it out to me.
Here is the brutally honest truth of what happened:
From 2007 – 2010 I exercised rarely (that is putting it nicely) and never really fell in love with running.
In October of 2010 I decided it was time to make a change. I was gaining weight, felt out of shape, couldn’t keep up with my friends, and was not happy with my health overall. I decided to really train for the first time (I had run a half years before, but had not really trained for it), and picked the Charleston Half Marathon. I even convinced a friend to train with me. It was probably the smoothest training cycle I have ever had. I was very motivated and did not have any nagging injury issues. We had trained at right about a 10 minute/mile pace and expected to finish between 2:10 – 2:15. Then something happened on race day (January 2011) – I had that amazing race – The one all runners dream about where you are suddenly faster than you ever though you could be and don’t know why. Mile after mile after mile kept ticking by at an even 9 min/mile pace and before I knew it I had run my half marathon under two hours. Now a sub 2 half is pretty serious for someone my speed (and I haven’t gotten close to that in the 3 years since), and in that moment I felt like I was capable of anything, like I could take on the world, and I began to dream about the full.
In April of 2011 I ran my next race. The Cooper River Bridge Run is a local 10K that draws almost 40,000 people (making it the 3rd largest in the USA). It is a tough race! 40,000 people crammed into 6.2 miles means the crowd never really thins out and you spend the whole time weaving between other runners. On top of that, the race includes a 2.5 mile killer hill, the Ravenel Bridge. I pushed hard, this is before the Garmin days so I had no idea how fast I was going, and managed to hit an even 9 minute mile pace even through the crowds and up hill, I finished in 55 minutes and felt like the Queen of the World. It was official, I was ready to take on the marathon. Or so I thought.
For almost 3 years now I have had one focus – 26.2.
Sept. 2011 – Jan 2012 I had a great training cycle for my first marathon at Disney and then crashed and burned the second half. It was ugly. I was sure it was a crazy fluke.
Then in February of 2012 I sustained both a rugby injury and a cross fit injury that knocked me off running for a few months (I have since retired from rugby and stopped cross fit).
I came back from my time off and went directly back to running and training for the Marine Corp Marathon, but my body was fighting me and I had a lot of leg pain. I couldn’t make it through my training runs and in Sept. 2012 I made the tough decision to defer the Marine Corp Marathon.
I stopped running and went to a physical therapist for two months, but did not feel I was getting much from her. I quit in November 2012 and, of course, went right back to running and training, this time with my eyes on the Country Music Marathon in Nashville.
My training cycle was much better this time, yes there was pain (I cannot tell you the last time I ran pain free), but I was able to push through it and have some decent runs. In April 2013 I tackled the Country Music Marathon, in the pouring rain, with strep throat (which I had gotten a few days before) and set a PR breaking 5 hours. However, I knew there was so much more in me. I couldn’t stop, I had to find another marathon, had to keep working to get better.
I found a new sports med chiropractor who I really love, and still work with, and he forced me to take May and June off post Nashville to let me body heal. However, I didn’t ease back into things well because come July I dove back into training for another full. I had guaranteed entry into the Marine Corp Marathon after my deferral the previous year. I ended up walking Marine Corp with a friend who needed me (I don’t regret that decision at all) so I have no idea how I actually would have done.
Luckily for me, I had another marathon already scheduled. I was looking forward to a fast, flat course in New Orleans and a new PR. I jumped right back into training as there were only 3 months between Marine Corp and New Orleans and things did not go well. I had some amazing training runs, but then I also had some terrible ones. I never knew what to expect from my body and how much pain I would be feeling. In the end, New Orleans was my worst marathon to date.
While telling my sports med chiro about my injuries and explaining everything to my new running coach a few things kept popping back up:
– I trained for one half marathon. Then, after just that one half, decided my body was ready to tackle the full. The truth is I was not in the physical shape I needed to be to make this jump. Training for and running a few halves first would have been much smarter.
– I never gave myself time off. If it wasn’t doctor-ordered, injury-related time off, I didn’t take it. Plus I never eased back in well, always jumping straight back to marathon training.
– I wasn’t cross training. I did no strength training, which left many of my muscles weak and unable to bear all the impact I was putting on them. Plus when I started full marathon training, I started skipping my spin classes in favor of runs, so my cross training and body suffered.
Writing it all down it is obvious I made bad decisions because I wanted that dream marathon so badly. (I still dream of breaking 4:45 and then 4:30, but that is on hold indefinitely.) Just looking at my 10K and half times from the past 3 years proves my body is not in the shape it used to be. I am running in pain, and running MUCH slower.
It is time to call in an expert, someone who will protect me from my own wild decisions.
I am happy to say that I will be working with Laura of Mommy Run Fast. I picked Laura not only because she is an amazing runner (the type of fast I don’t even dream of), but because she seems like a great coach. I get the feeling that she really cares about her clients, what is best for them, and helping them to achieve their goals. I signed up for a 20-week program in which we will focus on making sure I am healthy and able to run injury free, that is goal number one! This means way less running mileage and more strength training and cross training (spin).
*I’ll do another post on exactly what Laura and I do together next week in case you are curious about what exactly Laura does for me as my run coach, and what affect it is having on me as a runner.*
Have you ever worked with a running coach?
Would you consider it?
What questions do you have about run coaching?