I like to think I'm an independent person. There is a definite satisfaction that comes from being able to tackle tasks on my own without needing to ask for help from others. When I started running, I did a lot of reading and research about the sport. Occasionally, I asked questions of some friends who also run, but for the most part, I jumped into the sport on my own. I train and race on my own, despite reading about all the benefits of finding my "running tribe" and engaging in the running community. I even travel to races by myself when my family is unable to go with me. I enjoy the independence and the gratification of picking a plan, working toward a goal, and seeing the process through to the finish line.
So what would drive me to hire a running coach?
1. Prior to running the Marine Corps Marathon, I spent a lot of time selecting what I thought was the "right" training plan for me. I didn't just want to participate in my first marathon, I wanted to compete. Not against other racers, but against the clock. I did my homework and selected a Hal Higdon, 18-week training plan that included speedwork. I followed the plan faithfully for the majority of the summer. I even ran while on vacation in Punta Cana. However, when I hit September, instead of feeling like I was in great shape, I felt tired and broken down. My body ached and my desire to run started to dissipate once I headed back to work. Looking back, I realize that the plan was not a good fit for me. There were too many days of hard running. I wasn't taking the time to recover and so ultimately, I feel like the end of the training cycle did more harm than good.
2. When I think about the successes I've experienced as an athlete, specifically as a collegiate field hockey player, those successes didn't happen because of my independence. As a matter of fact, the great success of my teams came from the collaborative efforts of so many. Coaches, teammates, parents, fans. And while there is great satisfaction in being successful, the process of reaching that success is even more gratifying. An entire community of people could enjoy the fruits of our efforts. The conference championships, the big wins, the record setting seasons. And while all of these successes are amazing, when I look back on my college playing days, my fondest memories are of the sweltering summer preseason camp practices, locker room hype sessions, competitive drills, team meals etc. Success comes in all forms and for me, the greatest successes are found in the collective effort of many, not each individual player.
3. I'm not done being competitive. I started participating in sports when I was 7 years old. For the next 26 years, I either competed as an athlete or a coach. When I gave up my coaching career to focus on my family, I didn't realize how much I would miss having competition in my life. Running has reminded me that being a competitor is part of who I am. I don't run in races just to participate. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a contender for age group wins or top 10 performances. My competition is that steady foe... time. I want to improve my racing times. I want to push myself to move faster longer. These desires fuel my competitive spirit. Reaching faster time goals has given back to me a part of my life that I didn't even realize I was missing.
4. I'm not an expert. Plain and simple, I started running as a means to cope with losing my mom and honor her fighting spirit. While this is still my purpose for running, I've come to understand that chasing down goals requires some logistical support! I have all the motivation I need, but not enough knowledge about strategy, pacing, and training. I can spend (and have) hours trying to figure it all out, but why, when others are much more equipped to help me with these elements of running? It has been wonderful to let go of all of the planning and worrying about whether I'm doing the right workout or running the correct paces. All I have to do is W.O.R.K!
5. A B.Q. Yep... I've put it out there. I've made it real by sharing it. I'm not hiding behind the fear of not achieving it. I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon. This means cutting at least 35-40 minutes off my marathon time. When I think about that fact, I know I can't do it on my own. At first, I thought utilizing the expertise of a running coach would somehow diminish the achievement when it happens. Then I realized how ridiculous this line of thinking is. Didn't I just get done saying that my greatest successes haven't been independent from the help of others? Why is a B.Q. any different? Won't the achievement be that much more special because it will be a team effort?
I started working with my running coach a few weeks ago. I can say, with absolute certainty, it was the right decision! I'm already pushing harder than I would have pushed myself. My perceived limits of my capabilities are out the window! I didn't think I had it in me to sustain certain paces, but I've been proven wrong! My mantra has changed... "WHAT LIMITS?"