The benefits of a coach – I’m back on board!

At the risk of aging myself, I will reveal that I’ve been a competitive runner for 23 years.  Throughout most of those years I’ve had a coach who has guided my training and prescribed workouts which would lead me to my goals.  There are many benefits to having a coach, which I will get to in a minute.  However, I’d moved away from formal coaching over the past few years because it represented a commitment and structure which I did not want to maintain.  When I have a prescribed schedule, I can become compulsive in doing what is written.   I can recall cottage “party” weekends with friends to which I would lug along my bike, go to bed early and wake up early to get my prescribed workouts in on the prescribed days.  I’m sure I was a bundle of fun to party with.

Since having my first child six years ago and my second two years later, I knew my family would be my top priority and I never wanted to feel conflicted.  I couldn’t have TWO priorities at once, right?  So I moved into training whenever my schedule would allow.  I  know how to prescribe and perform my own workouts as well as the formulas for training and getting fit.  The flexibility of working hard in micro-cycles when I had time for it it suited me well for a few years.

HOWEVER… I’ve found recently that there is room to add ME to the top of my priority list without jeopardizing any quality time with my family.  (Another stage in life thing I’m sure – when they’re teenagers and want nothing to do with me I may have to take up Ultrarunning to occupy my time!)  I’ve also found that without a plan to guide me, I tend to overdo it when I shouldn’t.  (I always like to put big efforts in the bank “just in case” I can’t get a run in over the next little while … not a great long-term, thoughtful training philosophy)

SO… I’ve enlisted my good friend and mentor  Nicole Stevenson to coach me and I am super excited.  Here are some of the things I’m looking forward to in having a coach:

  1. A shared commitment to a goal.  There is a feeling of being in it together which takes a bit of the individual pressure off in a very individual sport
  2. A training plan which looks ahead and acts as a map, rather than a log which always looks back.
  3. Confidence in knowing I have planned effort days so I can focus on relaxing and recovering on my non-effort days.
  4. A wise voice to help to guide me over trouble spots rather than always relying on the one in my head (that voice has been relegated to the back seat)
  5. An alibi for the time I’m committing to training.  I’m not running for an hour and a half to escape dishes and laundry — my coach TOLD me to!
  6. Shared joy and credit in the victories – and I’m sure there will be many 😉

I can’t wait to get going, although my first hiccup has already arisen.  Day 1 of the training plan is tomorrow and my husband is away which means I can’t fit in my run before or after work (and likely not at all).  I will try my hardest not to develop a nervous tick all day for not being able to complete what is written down, and will instead roll with it and focus on  the big picture.  Deep breath … here we go!!!!

Le Slump

I am aware of the fact that I haven’t posted in a while.  The truth is that I have nothing great to write about.  I now realize that I’ve overdone it and am in a bit of an over-training slump.  How did this happen???  I’ve been able to handle this volume and intensity before.  The answer, I now realize reluctantly, is that I am under-recovering.

I need to do a bit less of this:

And a bit more of this:

(yes, he’s mine – and he never feels guilty about sleeping in)

This is a difficult concept to fully embrace when you want results and you’re motivated to work hard.  I realize that I should have planned way more of a recovery block after my marathon in March and my attempted double-peak with the 30K two weeks later.  Instead I just kept pushing and trying to build on my fitness.  What manifested was weeks of so-so training with some days of great runs or workouts which would fool me into believing I was recovered with many days of fatigue and lack-luster workouts in between.  Oh hindsight!

Here is a sample of some of the pages in my training log from the past month:

… you get the idea – there is a definite trend here.

I am obviously not to be trusted to be in charge of my own training schedule.  Oh, I know completely the concept of rest and recovery, and always build it in to training plans I write for others.  I, however, have not been working on a training cycle, rather the concept that I should run as hard and for as long as I can whenever I have the opportunity because my opportunities are so rare.  Clearly this plan is not working.

My planned solution is to hire a coach who can oversee my training cycles and phases.  One thing I do know about myself is that I’m very coach-able.  If it’s written down I tend to do it.    This is what was discouraging me from adhering to a formal plan, as I get very stressed if I can’t fit in something that has been planned.  Running whenever it suits me works for me psychologically, but maybe not as well physically.  So here we go … let’s hope for a more successful fall of racing!