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What I’ve learned after having a running coach for a month

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I’ve had a running coach for a month and even though I consider myself pretty experienced and well informed on running, I have already learned SO much. (And if you missed my post about why I hired a running coach, read that here! And to get all of my personal top running advice in one handy place, go here.) Here’s my top 5 lessons since hiring a coach thus far!

1. I do nearly every recovery run too hard.

I don’t usually mind running slow but when I’m running with friends, I want to run their pace because I don’t want to slow them down. But, a lot of times the pace my body is craving is significantly slower than what my group runs. My group is very consistent which is one of the things I love about them. They run usually an 8:00 – 8:15 pace. But some days my body just can’t do that, especially at the beginning of a run. My recovery runs start at an 8:45 or 9:00 minute pace and I gradually increase my speed — if my body feels like it.

Even on days where I feel better, I often push the pace too hard because it feels good — and it’s fun to run fast when it feels good, right?? I have to remember to rein it in and keep it it easy. EASY on the easy days and HARD on the hard days. I knew this in theory… but having a coach to keep me accountable helps a lot!

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Photo cred: Wake Forest Innovation Quarter

2. My strength training has not necessarily been specific to improve in my running.

I love strength training – always have! While I’m no longer doing Crossfit (a post is coming on that soon), I’ve still been hitting the gym 2x a week to lift. But, I’ve realized I was doing what I enjoy (deadlifts, squats, shoulder work) and ignoring some accessory and stabilization work. I really like the strength exercises Enoch, my coach, has assigned, including:

  • Hip and glute exercises
  • Foot strengthening exercises
  • Single leg work
  • Plyometrics

AND, he’s still supportive of lifting heavy for deadlifts and squats. Love that. Now, I won’t say I’m super consistent with some of the accessory work but I’m working on it!

3. It’s reduced the mental brain drain.

The mental strain of not having to rearrange my training plan around my schedule is really nice. I have a lot of travel early in the year and it’s nice to know that I won’t have to try to figure out what to do with my training. My coach will just adjust it for me. (More on that here!)

The biggest difference I’ve noticed in my training plan vs. previous plans is having most workouts assigned by time rather than miles. And I really love that. It’s nice to just have an hour or so on my schedule and not need to hit a specific mileage. I thought that would drive me crazy, but it’s the opposite – I LOVE it and it feels like less pressure striving for mileage. And that reduces stress, which I need!

4. Turns out I really like foam rolling.

I used to NEVER foam roll but now that it’s on my daily schedule as part of my workout, I’ve been really consistent with it. And I actually really look forward to doing it. I’m also finding that even if I only spend five minutes a day that really adds up. Literally. I’m now doing 25- 30 minutes of foam rolling a week which makes a big difference in how my muscles feel.

5. Fresh perspective really helps.

My coach made a few small tweaks that have made such a big difference, things that I may have thought about but never changed or wasn’t sure if I should. For example:

  • Ditching my inserts. I’ve still been struggling a little bit with plantar fasciitis. I’ve been able to run through it, but the pain is definitely still there. Enoch had me take out my inserts, gradually reducing their use. And my plantar feels the best it has in six months.
  • Shoe adjustments. I also had some pain on the top of my foot from some boots I wore and he provided all sorts of different options to try to relieve the pressure so that I could still run through it.
  • Accountability. He’s also been really good at encouraging me to take recovery when I need it and complete rest days every week are seriously so helpful. (I mean, I KNOW that but looking back at my Strava training log, I was taking them only about once every two weeks!)
  • Fueling. He’s also provided a new fueling options to try out since I’m burned out on GUs and Skratch (I used those training for the 2018 Boston Marathon). I’m going to try Honey Stingers and Maurten next! And for pre-run, I want these Honey Stinger Waffles. 😉
  • Encouragement. He reaches out via text to see how I’m feeling and gives me encouragement, kudos and constructive feedback on my runs after they load to TrainingPeaks (the software he uses for training plans). He’s given me tough love when I went too hard on a long run and kudos when I hit my progression. I’m a creature who likes feedback! 🙂

It’s just nice to have a go-to resource who has so much experience! And I can’t wait to see how it pays off at the 2019 Boston Marathon. Hopefully we have better weather than last year! 😉

2018 boston marathon weather

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    5 responses to “What I’ve learned after having a running coach for a month”

    1. Im training for Boston too. And my “coach” (my best running friend) isn’t around right now to force me to slow down. I’ve finally gotten away from constantly looking at my Garmin to see my pace and just run by feel, but that’s not good enough. I really need to start slowly down…I’ve been good about stabililty/hip/glute stuff 2x/week. Also need to try new fuel. I used Honey Stinger gels training for NYC, and even though they worked in training, I had majot GI issues during the race 🙁 I do want tot try thew waffles. Need to find non-gel (can’t even think about gels after what happened in NYC lol) vegan fuel……

    2. Since you are enjoying having a coach, I have a question. Do you think you would ever want to be a coach? Just curious!

    3. I love that you said your previous strength training wasn’t “specific to improve in your running”! I think that’s so important and something I am mindful of in my own training and for the runners I coach! All of these points sound like valuable lessons! So glad you found a good coach to help you continue to crush your goals!

    4. If you want a change from gels, Untapped makes some tasty maple syrup packets. It looks like a Gu packet but it’s filled with pure maple syrup! The best on a run! They also make delicious maple wafers but they’re not gluten-free 🙁 Here’s their link: I buy their products at the local bike shop.

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