Hot damn, why did I wait so long to get a coach?! It’s like the first time you got a smartphone or got a decent pair of binoculars or finally saw the Jinx! Yeah, you heard the rave reviews by others and you saw their successes, and yet you still thought, “Somehow, someway I am surviving ok without it” (/sarcasm). But I am here to tell you, my friends, that it is indeed a worthwhile experience!
At just 4 weeks in, it is hard to say exactly what the ultimate payoff will be (will I get faster? Race smarter?) but I sure can tell you this — I have finally cracked the code on how to do all the running stuff that isn’t running. I’ve never had a problem with the actual running or motivation to run but the cross-training? The yoga? The core workouts, for the love of God?? Consistency-wise, those have been a big nope, nope, nope. And I don’t want to get too cocky, since there is plenty of time for me to falter on those, but I am pretty psyched about the direction (with a major assist from Coach Martha) I have finally managed to set sail in.
The Workouts: I won’t divulge my specific workouts since it seems unfair to pass along free something that Coach has provided as a professional service so I will just tell you about the general structure. In the past I have ran five x/week where 2 runs would be easy, 1 tempo, 1 interval/track and 1 long. I don’t think there is anything necessarily wrong with this tactic, except that I plateaued on it. For this plan, Coach has me running 4 x/week, yoga 1 x/week, cross-training 1 x/week (for me, that means swimming) and doing a core workout 1 x/week. I thought I would really miss that 5th day of running but that has not been the case at all! Plus Coach changes up the order and types of running workouts so it always feels like something new. It actually reminds me a lot of when I was doing triathlons, when each day brought a new workout/discipline. Same thing here, except it is all variations on the theme of running. Considering how much I detest biking, this feels like I am getting my cake and eating it too!
I am happy to report I did not have to skip any workouts in the first block. I was worried about that, especially with the on-coming field season (busy bees at work) and having to rely on a pool schedule (that can change unexpectedly). The most I had to do were some modifications — I was out of town one week for my beloved yoga class and class was also cancelled once. In both cases, I was able to practice on my own (though I infinitely prefer the class setting). There was also one morning where the lifeguard did not show up and the pool was closed. Drats! But I just improvised and swapped into the next day’s easy run (in my bathing suit and sweatpants/hoodie – not recommended, lol) and swam the following morning. Key for me has been getting my workout done in the early morning, before anything that day can derail it. This has meant some dark starts (including one morning where a skunk chased me?! WTF was up with that?!) but the sweet reward of beautiful sunrises.
Nutrition: Coach has identified nutrition as a place that I can improve upon. My sensitive stomach, combined with some eating issues that are sadly commonplace among endurance athletes, means that I have some work to do. To that end, one thing she has me working on is recovery drinks right after running. This is something I have traditionally eschewed — my stomach revolts against anything entering it right after running. On an hard efforts, the grouchiness can last up to as many as 2 hours until I can eat without cramping. Coach convinced me, though, that I should try and retrain myself to get cracking on recovery almost as soon as the run ends. For me, that means drinking Hammer Recoverite within 15 minutes post run. I have followed this advice and am rewarded with nausea, lol. BUT, I can’t deny that I have actually felt better (in terms of tiredness/soreness) as the day goes on than I have in the past without it. Annnd, I am starting to crave the taste! I have a hard effort tomorrow and am already looking forward to my drink after. I’m calling that success!
General Notes on Being Coached: What can I say, I love it! Actually, you all know me better than that and that I can say way more, lol. The best part, thus far, has been the accountability. In the past, it was very easy to blow off a core workout or yoga, etc. Now I find myself thinking, “But what will I tell Coach? That I just didn’t feel like it?” By and large, the workouts bring me great joy and once I am downward dogging or swimming, I am really so pleased to be there. The one exception to that “by and large” is core workouts. Holy hell, do I hate them! The only think I like about them is crossing them off the list (and recently, that I feel like I can do some of the exercises slightly better than when I started). But again, knowing that Coach will ask about them and that I am just cheating myself really helps. It is sort of like a baking recipe — you can’t do everything right but purposely change one ingredient and then expect a delicious cookie. To ever be able to fairly assess what having a coach is like, I need to do everything she prescribes. So far, so good!
Another thing I love about coaching is the coach herself. Martha has done a great job of drilling into understanding who I am and to what I respond best (CliffsNotes version – positive reinforcement). Sample lines from emails from her:
“You just need to hone on on what half marathon rocks your world and then we will rock the training … and the event! …So excited Kashi!!”
“YAY! This will be fun! Looking forward to writing your plan!”
“Awesome! Super happy that you were able to get in the weekend run and it went well… Onward!!!”
“This is great feedback and very helpful! Nice job on getting in the 2 x 2.5 mile efforts. Sounds like we dialed into the correct pace range based on the fact that you were hanging at a PE of 7 once settled in.”
It’s so great to meet someone who sees the value in an exclamation point as much as I do
Another fun thing is having someone that cares about your training as much as you do. I’m lucky to have family and friends that are super supportive and always there for me, especially come race day. But to have someone who, during the whole process, is looking closely at your paces, your heart rate (this is also new for me! More on that next time), at every workout with an eye for improvement…well, it’s not a stretch to say it makes you feel like a bit of a superstar. Like you are unstoppable because this person (this fast, professional, experienced person) thinks you are. It’s a pretty powerful elixir, I gotta admit.
That’s plenty for now, but there is still so much more! Next month I will tell you all about my adventures in heart rate training as well as what the actual process of putting together my plan looks like. Here is a little preview: