One of my action plans for 2016 was getting a coach. I'm extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to be coached by someone that I already knew from the running community and who I consider a friend. Mark is a well known runner in the Los Angeles area and in the realms of social media, not just because he heads up United LA (a local run club), but because he is constantly holding charity fundraisers for the local community. He's got a huge heart, so I always knew I could trust his intentions and that he wanted the best for me. I wanted to share a bit about this experience and why it is something every runner who is looking to reach their potential should consider.
You Don't Have to Plan Your Workouts
This is a huge plus for me. I never realized how much of a relief it would be to not have to decide between what I should be doing and what I felt like doing. I don't have a choice anymore - in a good way. The workout for the day is the workout. Whether I feel like I want to go slow or fast doesn't matter anymore.
You're Held Accountable
This is a positive for me because I couldn't help but think that I had to report back to someone on my workout. It made me push harder or go slower even when I didn't want too. It made me show up every day for whatever I had to do. When I felt too tired to do the last 400 meter repeat, I thought about my coach. I knew he'd text me and ask for my splits and how the workout went, and I knew I didn't want to disappoint him or myself. I know this can also be a negative for some folks who just want to do their own thing, but it kept me on track.
You Become More Aware of Your Body
As runners, I think we get used to the soreness that our bodies experience on a daily basis. Having to report to someone on my workouts also meant being in tune with my body and figuring out what was preventing me from either accomplishing the workout or feeling good afterwards. Soreness is always there, but talking to Mark everyday made me more articulate when my ankles were sore, or my hips, or if the setback was just a mental one.
There is a Solution for Everything
Your hips are sore? Hip opening yoga. Ankles are hurting? Ankle rotations and calf stretches. Your cramping? What did you eat, drink and how can we fix that? Can't do the workout today? We'll adjust. And so on.... Someone is listening and genuinely interested in solving your ailments and doubts to make sure you are the best runner you can be.
Someone is Pushing You Outside Your a Comfort Zone
I'm extremely self motivated and feel that I push myself hard on my own, but let's be real. This only goes so far. I had never done a track workout in my life and had no idea where to start. I would've avoided them forever if it weren't for my coach. And after doing one, I probably would've skipped all of the other ones if I wasn't checking in with someone every day because they are SO HARD. While I dread them every week, it's clear they've helped me improve. A lot of the reason why many athletes don't get better or improve is because they are unwilling or can't figure out how to get outside their comfort zone. A coach helps you do that.
Time and Commitment
This was a struggle for me. I already don't have a ton of time with a long commute every day, family and friend obligations, and marathon training. There's no turning back when you're getting coached. You don't want to waste your time or theirs if you're not fully committed to giving it your all. Committed to making the time for the workout that calls for 9 fast miles when all you have time for is 3. To doing a tough tempo when you're burnt out from work and life and just want to stroll through an easy run or make it a rest day. You have to show up, every day, because your coach is showing up every day for you. It feels like school sometimes, but your teacher is way cooler!
Overall, being coached has been a great experience for me and I would recommend it. We'll see how much it has actually helped me improve when I take on the LA Marathon in 2 weeks. I'm hoping to make both myself, and Mark, very proud :)