Working with a Running Coach

I have mentioned a couple times on my blog that this year I started working with a running coach to help me reach my running goals. And since mentioning that, I have received some questions about what that’s like and how to find a coach.

The first thing I would say about having a running coach does not mean you now suddenly have some magical power to PR or BQ. That being said, since working with a coach I think I have become a stronger and smarter runner (and at times a faster one too!). For example, while I didn’t reach my time goal at my last marathon, I did run a strong race that I’m really proud of and before that I PR’ed at a local race (shaving 3 minutes off a 6 mile distance).

Happy & with friends after a big PR at Wharf to Wharf this year
Happy & with friends after a big PR at Wharf to Wharf this year

There are several reasons why I would recommend working with a coach. The first (and most important for me) is you have someone who will tell you no. I personally have the problem of doing too much. I will run fast everyday or run long distances everyday. My coach tells me no, don’t do that (so does my husband but I apparently don’t listen to him about running, sorry babe!).

Another reason a coach can be a benefit is that you will have training personalized to you. I let my coach know weekly how much workouts went, when I felt good, when I didn’t. He can then modify the next week’s workouts to reflect my current fitness levels. The online training plans you can download give you great plans and workouts. I used them for years and likely will again sometime in the future. But they cannot know exactly where you are as a runner and you might not know how to modify them to help you reach your goals.

October Workouts (so far)
October Workouts (so far)

Of course, having a coach costs money. So you have to decide if these benefits are worth that cost. If you decide to go this route, the next step is finding a coach.
Finding my coach was easy – he’s the coach of our running team. But I did talk to friends who had worked with him as individual coach to see what they thought of working with him. I also met with him to discuss my goals, how we would communicate, etc. For example, we both agreed that weekly emails where I give him a kind of report of my runs worked best for us. But others contact him more often. So other than cost, one thing you want to think about is how & when you will communicate with your coach.

Convinced that it’s time to start training with a coach? Remember you have lots of options and you don’t have to work with someone in your community. My training is pretty much all through email communication and long-distance training can work. But also if you need face-to-face training, take that into consideration. Make a list of what you want from a coach (goals, cost, communication). Then I recommend touching base with your local running community, who uses a coach and who do they work with will help you find the right person. But don’t be afraid to stop working with someone. If you don’t click, you don’t click and that could end up harming your running and reaching your goals.

Do you work with a running coach? What do you like about it? What do you not like about it?

So Cal Time!

This week, the hubs and I drove down to Southern California to celebrate his birthday and the 4th of July with my family before flying out to Maui. We haven’t been in So Cal as often this year as we usually have been in the past. And while this trip is short (just 4 full days) it has been so much fun!

Making the drive (Gus didn't make it into this photo but Sam made sure she was in it!)

Making the drive (Gus didn’t make it into this photo but Sam made sure she was in it!)

We got into town late Sunday night. But we were up and ready to go on Monday to celebrate Kevin’s birthday. I headed over to the gym to get in some Body Pump time. The 24 Hour Fitness by my parents’ house is SUPER nice! I love when I get to use their gym (but I was glad I wasn’t swimming when I saw the naked lady kicking it in there! Uh, excuse me public pool = WEAR A BATHING SUIT!). That night we went to one of our favorite old spots, Pizza Port. We had some tasty beer and pizza, you know just carbing it up! Then we played darts at Tom Giblins (ok it’s called O’Sullivans now, but it will always be Giblins to me!).

photo 2-1Tuesday Kevin had to work but I had fun. I ran one of my old routes near the coast (also part of the Carlsbad Marathon) and had coffee with Dad after. Tuesday was also a day for seeing old friends. I met up with Sharla and her new little boy for some more carbs at Panera. So much fun. Then FINALLY got my nails done (the last time I did my nails was before SFM! Wowzers!). Thanks Mom for the mani and pedi! Then off to see Amy. I haven’t seen Amy in FOREVER so this was really nice. Her hubs and two girls were also hanging out. (Her youngest is only 2 weeks old, insert mandatory “awe” here). Her older daughter is so awesome. We had a great time and I even left with some treasure as a gift from her daughter. The day ended with some good grilled food and family time.

With Sharla's son - he was quickly disappointed to find my thumb didn't have any milk.

With Sharla’s son – he was quickly disappointed to find my thumb didn’t have any milk.

Summer nails!

Summer nails!

Wednesday started with an early morning run with Nicole (aka HauteRunningMama). So much fun to finally meet her in person and get in a good run! And then a lazy day…

This morning, I finally ran the 5k at Coronado. This is a race I have wanted to run for a couple years but hadn’t had the opportunity before.

Patriotic Socks!

Patriotic Socks!

Start (that guy with the little pup was speedy!)

The Start (that guy with the little pup was speedy!)

The race didn’t go as well as I hoped (no PR this time!). It didn’t help that we started nearly 30 minutes late, meaning I had finished my warm up almost an hour before I actually raced. My first mile was strong, my second was ok, but my 3rd was way slow (for me). I’m not sure why I had more in me but didn’t push harder, I guess because I was passing some people. I ended up coming in 5th in my age group (of 73 runners, holy cow!) and 91st overall (men & women). I ended up with an official time of 22:10, 22:01 on my Garmin, and according to Strava mapping the course my run of the actual course was 21:43 (only 3 seconds off my PR). Garmin says I ran a little long (3.14 versus 3.1) but that’s no biggie. While I’m not thrilled with my results, it was fun to hang with the parents and to see Nicole and Monika pre-race.



Pretty nice tech tee/medal for a $35 race!

Pretty nice tech tee/medal for a $35 race!

We are finishing the day by hanging out at the Del Mar Fair (sorry it will never be the San Diego County Fair to me) to eat good fair food and watch fireworks.

Happy 4th of July!!!!

Fit Fridays: Rest Days

Happy Friday! This week has been a doozy  for me. My classes I teach are wrapping up and my work outs that were supposed to be easier have been tough! I had a short tempo run Tuesday followed by my favorite gym class, Body Pump. Lately, I have been following speed days with hill days. And this week was no exception. On Wednesday my billy goat friend, Jenn B., took me up a 1.5 mile hill climb at Wilder Ranch. Needless to say, my legs were tired Wednesday night. And that leads me to my topic for today: Rest Days.

I definitely was looking forward to my rest day, Thursday, this week. Rest days used to play an important role in my early running years. But over the past year they lost their priority. I took days off running but cycled or did another work out on those days. For the first two and half months of 2013, I didn’t even take a running rest day. And how did that work out for me? Not well! So now I value those rest days.


I usually take one full rest day a week. No running. No weights. No bike. No gym. I usually have a second day where I don’t run but might do another type of workout. I can feel the difference. I also try not to run more than 3 days in a row (if possible). I feel more rested and stronger when I come back to running. And while I can dread a rest day because I feel lazy and hyper aware of poor eating habits on those days, I have also come to look forward to them. I know my body needs to ay to recover, to heal its tired muscles so I can come back stronger and become a better runner.

It has been hard though! I see challenges like Running World’s Summer Streak. I really want to participate, but I know that if I want to meet my goals, I need to keep a rest day in my rotation. So, what are your feelings about rest days? Do you take them? Look forward to them? Dread them?

The Changing Plans Continue

The changes just keep coming in my training/running schedule.

I had originally planned to run the Big Sur Marathon on April 28. This was assuming that I did well at LA and then could run Big Sur easy (well relatively speaking of course). Big Sur holds a special place in my heart because it was my first marathon. I had been especially looking forward to running it again because the year I ran the race was the year that part of Highway 1 collapsed and so rather than being a point-to-point course it was an out and back. So I was eagerly looking to running the full, original course.

But … I had to change all of that. For the 2nd race of 2013, I have dropped out of a race. Well, unlike the Santa Cruz Half Marathon and I am changing my registration for Big Sur. I have officially downgraded from the marathon (all 26.2 miles of it) to the 5k (all 3.1 miles!). I could have run the full but I was starting to worry that would erase all of the recovery work I have been doing. As I reassess the rest of my running goals for 2013, I didn’t want to throw any possibilities away because I ran Big Sur. While it’s a bummer to not run the marathon, I am excited to run the 5k because I get to run with two of my favorite running/training partners and SCE teammates, Elise and Leslie. The full marathon will just have to wait for another year (perhaps a Boston 2 Big Sur year? A girl can dream!)

When have you had to change your running/training plans? Have you had to drop a race?

Fit Friday: Return to Running

I know, I know… lately my only posts are Fit Friday posts. Whoops!

Today’s post is short because I have a busy day ahead of me… but guess what! I’m running again today! I haven’t run since the LA Marathon and I am so excited! (Speaking of LA, did you read my post on the SF Marathon blog yesterday? You should!)

Today I’m running in one of my favorite places, the Forest of Nisene Marks. I usually run along the coast and while I love this, running in Nisene is such a nice change of pace.

Running/Volunteering at the Dirt Inspires Half Marathon 2012 at Nisene

Running/Volunteering at the Dirt Inspires Half Marathon 2012 at Nisene

So, where are your favorite places to run?