Rock My {Running} World ~ Meet Coach Adam

A good coach is someone who believes in you and encourages you to follow your dreams, no matter how big they may be or how long it may take you to get there.  A good coach is someone who not only pushes you to be your best, but who also advises you to listen to your body and to honor the rest and recovery that is essential before and after hard efforts.  A good coach is someone who has been there – who knows what it feels like to have a bad day, or a bad week or even a bad year.  A good coach listens to you and really hears you – and sincerely wants to help you.  A good coach celebrates your victories as though they were his own, and then inspires you to work even harder to surpass your personal best.  And when you fall short of your goal, he will help pick you up and will remind you that it will make you stronger, so that you have the confidence to keep going and never give up.

Part of the reason I joined the =PR= Distance Training Program in Reston last year was because I wanted to know what it felt like to be coached as a runner.  As a coach myself, I felt this was an important perspective to have.  I also had big dreams and huge goals that I wanted to accomplish, and I hoped that the coaching staff at =PR= would help me work towards achieving them.  That they would believe in me and push me.  I could not have been happier with my experience.  After two seasons with this group of stellar coaches, I have improved my marathon PR by more than an hour (from a 4:35:09 to a 3:34:46) and also set new personal records in every other distance.  I have had a ton of fun being a part of this group.  I’ve learned so much about myself as a runner and as a person and have made wonderful new friends along the way.  And you better bet I have already signed up for the next session!!

The coaches at =PR= are top notch.  I am truly honored and grateful to introduce you to one of the very best – my friend and coach, Adam Lesser.  He rocks my running world!!

Adam – looking strong at the Finish!
Name: Adam Lesser

Age: 32

Location: Fairfax, VA


Twitter: @ajlesser

What do you do in “real” life?
Telecom/IT Consultant 

How long have you been running? 18+ years

Why did you start running? I started running because I thought running would be a good way to stay in shape during/between soccer seasons.  After discovering that I was better at running than soccer, I ran all three seasons throughout high school (cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track), primarily as a sprinter, running everything from 55m to 400m.  Since then, running has been a part of what I do.

Personal Records:

Marathon: 3:20:16

Half Marathon: 1:29:34

10 Miler: 1:07:10
10K: 40:19

5K: 19:05

What is your proudest running moment: Completing my first marathon.  I approached my training in such the wrong way and fought through nagging knee pain until it got to the point where I couldn’t run anymore.  I had run 18 miles once about 5 weeks out from the race.  After seeing a doctor and giving me advice, I cross trained, but never ran a step for 5 weeks until race day.  Probably not the smartest thing to do, but I still lined up, made the typical rookie mistake of running the first half too fast, only to hit the wall at mile 20 and spend the next 6 miles doing the marathon shuffle of walk, run, cramp, stretch, repeat.  But like any runner, my determination to finish carried me through and I’ve never looked back since.

Pick one of your favorite parts of the lululemon manifesto and tell me why it speaks to you:

A daily hit of athletic-induced endorphins gives you the power to make better decisions, helps you be at peace with yourself, and offsets stress.  There is something about the feeling after you’ve finished a workout that gives you greater clarity on everything surrounding you.  I find that I think faster, am able to manage life better, and am always in a better mood following a workout.

Do you have any favorite running mantras?
  The mantra that stuck with me most during my most recent marathon buildup was No excuses.  Simply put – I wanted to be able to say that I had no excuses for my lack of preparation leading up to this race.  If I don’t have the race I want, I have no excuses, because I prepared myself as best I could.  I executed every workout as planned, hit my paces, and did all the little things to ensure a good race.  At the end of that, that means that I just have to execute on race day based on my abilities and the conditions of the day and the rest will fall into place.  Great races don’t just appear out of thin air – you have to work hard to achieve your goal if you want to see it become reality. 

Tell us a little about what you do to strengthen your running (core training, yoga, Pilates, etc) and what do you do to protect yourself from injury?  
I have been a huge advocate for general strength and mobility exercises, which incorporate many of the principles from yoga, Pilates, and the common core training exercises most are familiar with.  These include dynamic flexibility work, planks, lunges, and squats to develop a strong and balanced foundation to handle the different stresses of running.  I also try to add cycling as a low impact, aerobic workout to help flush the legs after long runs.  Building a strong foundation allows you to focus on being a runner when running, instead of aches and pains that can crop up from weaknesses and imbalances that can easily develop without it. 

What is your favorite pre-race meal?  
Strange as it may sound – 2 cups unsweetened apple sauce, 1 sliced up banana, 1 scoop protein powder.  Goes down easy and doesn’t sit heavy in the stomach by the time you are ready to race.  I usually have this 2-3 hours before the race and then top off with a gel about 15 minutes before the race starts.

What is your favorite workout to do at the track and why?
  Although I don’t do it frequently because of the more long distance focus of my workouts, I always enjoy running 400s.  In reality though, any track workout brings me back to my high school days of being a sprinter.  We typically ran repeats of anything from 100m to 800m in those days, but I always enjoyed 400s the most.

What is your next race?  What is your goal for that race?
  My next race is the Ukrop’s Monument Ave 10k – a race I’ve run for the past 4-5 years.  Because of the timing of the race (typically only a few weeks after a Spring marathon I run), my goals are usually limited to how my legs feel on race day at about the Mile 1 marker of the race.  By then, you can usually tell how much residual fatigue is still in your legs.  This year I have a little more recovery time, so I’d like to be able to break 40 minutes if all goes well.

What are your long term running goals?  I’d like to continue chipping away at my PRs.  Though I’ve been running for a relatively long time, I have a lot of ground to make up to become the runner I know I am capable of being.  I still feel like I have a lot of room for improvement, so I’d like to continue racing for time.  As I become a smarter runner and improve my approach, I know I can do better.  The drive of continual improvement is what motivates my long term running goals.

What advice do you have for other runners out there?  Consistency is the most important aspect to becoming a better runner.  Consistency means being able to put together training over a long period time, not just for the race you are training for, but also looking at running from a macro or long-term perspective.   Far too often we get wrapped up in the details of our training – what pace was the last mile, how many miles do I need to run this week, etc.  Looking at things from the macro perspective in the context of building consistency allows runners to see their own successes and realistically plan for becoming a better runner in the long term.  Getting caught in the weeds of short term thinking is what can make running seem like a chore, to create stress when we miss a workout goal, or get anxious when things don’t feel as they should.  And this type of reaction is what turns us away from being consistent with our training, whether on a day to day basis or longer.  The goal is to have fun running so it never seems like a chore, but to also build fitness over the long term in the process.

Jodi & me with Coach Adam!

Who rocks YOUR running world? – Tell us a little about someone who inspires you to be a better runner.  I constantly am inspired by all the dedicated runners that make up the various running programs at the =PR= Reston store.  Over these past few seasons of serving as a coach for the Distance Training Program and running together with the constantly growing group, we’ve all become such close friends, offering encouragement to one another week in and week out.  This is the same dedicated group that shows up to the track in the middle of winter when it is dark, cold, dumping rain, and windy and doesn’t think twice about coming, because they all know each other will be there, no questions asked.  If I ever need motivation or inspiration, I think about all the great runners that make up our program.  I feel honored to be a part of such a great group of people.

1 thought on “Rock My {Running} World ~ Meet Coach Adam

  1. This post has been so timely. I am so grateful to have been coached by Adam, and believe he is an amazing person and coach. Thank you for the comment about consistency and getting wrapped up in our short term goals. Love you guys!

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