Hey Guys! It’s Erin over at the Little Runner Girl and I am so excited to talk to you guys about why I made the leap and decided to get a coach.   I have no plans to be an elite runner (even if I did have plans, I’m not sure they would come to fruition, I am just being honest here!)  So why would I hire a coach?  Running coaches aren’t just for experienced or elite runners.  They are for everyone!  Whatever level of runner you are, whatever you are hoping to achieve (losing weight, running any distance from 5k-marathon, Boston qualifying), everybody can gain something from hiring a good  coach.  I already had this post in my head and when my coach asked if I’d want to guest post on his blog I knew this was the perfect post.  He gave me free rein to blog about whatever I wanted, but with fall marathon training about to start, this seemed like as good of a time as any.

Finishing the OK 5k 2 weeks ago with a :40 second PR-- 3 weeks after I started with Nark Running Strategies

When I started running about 2 years ago, I didn’t know many runners and I didn’t know anything about running. I immersed myself into learning anything and everything I could.  I read every article, reached out to people via social media to ask questions and searched tons of blogs.  I ran every training run solo.  I got injured and still ran #runnerprobs.  It was mentally draining training through the summer for a fall marathon and not having anyone to keep me accountable or anyone to share in my whining and complaining on 20 mile runs in 90 degree heat. If my plan called for a certain track workout, I had no idea how to execute it properly.  I didn’t know what a tempo run was, what a fartlek was or even just how to properly train for the goals I hoped to accomplish. Google was my friend ( ie: how to run yasso 800’s). I joined a local running club for a few track workouts and runs, but it just didn’t seem for me.  I still had no idea what I was doing and I felt dumb asking how to do the workouts (Don’t feel dumb, please ask.  You’ll save yourself lots of time and frustration).   I would attempt them on my own and give up because they were hard.

 After training for my 2nd marathon this past winter, I knew I wanted and needed more out of myself and my running.  I reached out to a runner friend, Allison, who had joined Plaza Fitness/ Nark Running Strategies back in January (she finished her 3rd Boston Marathon in 3:17:31 this year).  She had NOTHING but great things to say about the group and about her coach, Mat, and it sounded exactly what I was looking for.  When I checked out the Facebook group, I noticed how they really motivated and encouraged each other (I also saw how many PR’s were being achieved.)  Falling just short of my BQ in April and already looking ahead to Chicago in the fall, I knew this was the time to get some help.

Allison and Deanne at mile 17.5 of this years Boston Marathon.

There are tons and tons of different training plans out there and I know a lot of people who have had success doing it that way.  I find it more difficult because the training plan is generic.  It’s not tailored to my needs and goals.  Using a training plan that had no speed-work while training for the NJ marathon this year probably wasn’t the best choice for me when I was trying to earn a BQ.  And like I mentioned above, I didn’t meet that goal.  I had reached the point in my running where I did everything I knew how to do and couldn’t figure out how to push past the barrier.  I needed guidance and so after a few back forth emails and meeting Mat, I hired him to help me reach my goals.

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 A running coach designs your training plan to optimize your performance and simultaneously minimize your injury risk.  I told Mat about my past training and what my goals were for the summer and for my fall marathon.  One thing I never made a priority was strength training so, in addition to coaching, I also signed on for two strength training classes a week.   I ran my first 5k 3 weeks after joining and had a 40 second PR.  My previous 5k time was from April at the peak of marathon training when I was in fantastic(ish) running shape.  This 5k PR was just 2 weeks ago and coming off of marathon recovery.  I could already see a HUGE difference.  I felt ready.  My body felt stronger and my running seemed to flow easier.  Even my form was improving.  That weekend there were 23 PERSONAL RECORDS achieved by Nark Running Strategies runners.  I don’t think I have to make a convincing argument that the training I/we are receiving helps us in every aspect of our running.

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Before I would just follow whatever plan I had chosen (loosely) and sometimes would just completely change a workout.  With my training plan done for me every Sunday, I don’t need to question why I’m doing a specific workout or run because my coach knows what my goals are and what I need to be doing to achieve them.  Instead of going out racing every weekend like I used to, I did one 5k this month to see where I was fitness wise and my next race won’t be until mid-July.

Coaches are the voice of reason and seem to be the only people on planet earth that can rein a runner in  and explain why recovery and rest are important parts of training.  And surprisingly, I listen.   My goals for this training cycle are a sub-21 5k and a sub 3:30 marathon in Chicago.  More than anything though(okay, equal to wanting a BQ), I’d like to go through this training cycle injury free.  Something I NEVER(this is not an exaggeration) included in workouts was a warm-up and cool-down.  A good coach will make that a priority and every speed-workout I do, Mat includes both.   When you are injured less often, you can train more consistently.   Coaches keep you accountable and consistent. I believe that what sets apart good training versus great training is consistency.  When you train more consistent, you become a better runner and ultimately your coach can help you become faster and more fit than you ever thought possible.  Staying consistent means staying motivated and a coach keeps you on your toes and reminds you why you are working so hard.

Hill repeat recovery

Long story long, if you’re having trouble figuring out your next step in your running, it’s probably time to hire a coach.  The great thing about hiring a coach is that they are accessible ANYWHERE.  Maybe you travel a lot or you like to get your run done in the mornings, you don’t need to have a coach physically by your side every moment of your training.  Your plan will be there for you, you fill out your log for them to review and they will be there for you with any questions or concerns you may have.  I have texted my coach at 6am (sorry) and at 10pm (sorry again) whenever I have a question about a workout or to see if I could possibly maybe run a race next weekend (the answer was no.) If you are dedicated about reaching a goal and willing to go the extra mile in your training then investing in a running coach is 100% worth it.  Do the research, ask questions and run fearless.

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If you’re interested about learning more about my work with Nark Running Strategies, visit my blog over at The little runner girl and I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have!  If you’re even more interested about joining us for group runs and training, check out the website or facebook for more info!

Happy running!!

 

 

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