time for a coach

It’s been a little more than three weeks since Boston and in some ways it feels like the race was just yesterday, while in other ways it feels like it is eons behind me.  I think this happens with a lot of life’s most amazing moments that you work towards or wait for.  The emotions and energy are so enormous, the meaning behind everything so rich and yet so simple … it’s a lot to take in and then it flashes by you in what feels like an instant and I wonder how SO MUCH was able to happen and fit into this little blip of a weekend.  I felt that way last year, too – I feel that way on some level after all of my marathons – and I’m left feeling emotionally wiped out, yet filled up at the same time.  I poured my heart into that race, into the experience of being with loved ones all weekend (people who mean so much to me but who I rarely get to spend in-person time with), into being present for new connections and opportunities and into just letting it all happen as it was meant to and savoring it all.

Processing it all has been just that – a process.  I spent a lot of time thinking about how incredible the weekend and race was.  It felt like a dream, and honestly it still does feel that way.  I will cherish my Boston 2014 memories forever.

I thought too about my race – the nitty gritty details – what happened with my stomach was, as my friends and I say, NO BUENO.  I’m really proud of my execution of the race, but what happened those last 4 miles just wasn’t right.  It was more than just my typical “GI issues.”  After talking with friends who are experienced runners and coaches, I believe it was my body shutting down due to an electrolyte imbalance.  It was a warm and sunny day and I was pushing myself hard – my usual water and Honey Stinger gels just weren’t enough for me.  Racing at the level I am capable of is going to require better attention to my fueling and hydration plan and I am ready to buckle down and figure this out.

And I’m not going to do it with guesswork or so much trial and error (and error, and more error) anymore.

One thing that has been on my mind for the last year or so has been the idea of working with a coach.  I looked into it at one point and then decided to just continue to “coach” myself because I still had a lot of things to try each cycle and I knew that disciplining myself wasn’t an issue because I’m a pretty self-motivated runner at this point.  Boston told me it’s time for a coach though.  I am ready.  I believe if I want to reach my full potential I need help with the science of my running, especially when it comes to optimal nutrition and hydration.  When I explored my options for a coach I thought long and hard about it.  There are really some incredible coaches out there who I admire and respect and feel would give me great guidance.  When it came down to it though I realized it was important to me to work with someone local, someone I would really connect with and who I could see and meet with on a regular basis throughout my training cycle.

So last week I began working with Coach Brian Crow.  Brian is a running and triathlon coach and a personal trainer at my gym, Lifetime Fitness in Reston.  He and I met over the winter and he did my VO2 Max test for me for the first time in January.  The test intrigued me and also intimidated me.  Brian gave me some advice on training zones and paces for Boston – basically telling me I could and should be running faster than I was – and I took all of that into consideration as I trained for Boston but didn’t necessarily follow all of his advice.  Over the course of my Boston training cycle I would see him practically every week in passing and he would ask about my training and racing, how I was feeling and doing, etc.  He always made me feel like he genuinely took interest in and cared about my running.

About a week after I returned from Boston, I asked Brian if we could sit down and talk and he was more than happy to.  We went over what happened in Boston and leading up to it, we talked about my goals and dreams and plans for the future in my running.  He was very thoughtful about the approach we would take and believed that he can not only help me learn and grow as a runner but also get down to the bottom of my fueling issues and make it work for me instead of against me.  I am really excited, and really scared.

I have been working with Brian for about 2 weeks now.  He has me run a lot less than I was planning to run, telling me to remember that I am still recovering from Boston (not just the race but the whole training cycle) and that with big plans ahead I need to give my body and mind a chance to reset and rejuvenate for what’s next.  It made me squirm a little at first but I also really know he is right.  I have been resting more and running less and I believe it is making a difference.  Working with Brian is going to require a whole new level of trust and bravery for me.  I’m going to be training in a very different way for me – based on heart rate zones that we determine with regular (monthly) VO2 and metabolic testing.  I will continue with my strength, core and foam rolling routines.  Brian will also do some tests to figure out my nutrition and hydration needs so we know exactly the right combination for my runs and races.

It is time for this for me, and I am so excited about the possibilities that are ahead.

11 thoughts on “time for a coach

  1. I'm interested to read more about the process. I've never been coached, but it seems the way to go these days. I've seen lots of ladies make the change to a coach from self-coaching, and most benefit by the next training cycle.

  2. I am thrilled to hear you are getting a coach. I brought on a coach this year as well and it has really transformed my running. I didn't realize my potential and although I have tons of work ahead of me I know I couldn't have done it on my own. You will do great and I think this will open up another side of your running. Good Luck!!

  3. My only coach is the Couch to 5K right now. I'm proud to be ripping through week 3. I can't imagine being so finely tuned that I'd want a coach to boost my performance. Hats off to you, at the front of the field. Save me some snacks at the table after the finish line!

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