Showing posts with label coach. Show all posts
Showing posts with label coach. Show all posts

Friday, July 7, 2017

Saying Goodbye to My Coach

You're probably reading the title of this post and saying WHAT? Actually, I'm saying that. I'm still in shock. But it's true. My training sessions with Becky are coming to an end.

About 6 weeks ago, Becky told Steph and me that she was moving to Las Vegas to join the circus. Seriously. She is taking a job with Cirque du Soleil as part of their medical team. It's an amazing opportunity for her. I'm so proud of her for going out of her comfort zone and trying something new! After all, isn't that what she's been pushing me to do for the last 3 years?

Becky asked us not to share this information until the CrossFit box had a chance to let everyone know. I put it in the vault and there it has remained until today. This was a post I did not want to write. I've been struggling to put my thoughts into words. It's so hard for me to say goodbye to someone who has completely transformed my life.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Trust and the coach

For the past week, I have been harboring a little secret. Today I shared it with Becky. After I told her, she shrugged her shoulders, which I took to mean it was ok. In Becky, I trust. Coach Extraordinaire. Super Woman. Wise Sage.

I knew my coach was a superhero, but it was confirmed today!
photo by Buckshot Images
I've been off the road for almost a week now, letting my foot rest so the devil in my plantar fascia can chill out. I've been pedalling away on my bike trainer, posting yoga poses for the Sweatpink #flexandflow challenge, and lifting all the weights with Becky. I can clean and I can squat. I've been wearing my deadlift shoes. I've been diligently stretching and rolling my foot.

By the way, Becky confirmed what I already suspected: yes, cycling does aggravate the plantar fascia. Certainly not as much as running, but yes, there is some aggravating going on. Damn it.

The one thing I'm not doing this week is running. And to tell you the truth, I'm not missing running right now. At all.

There it is. And it isn't even Runfessions...

It's no wonder I'm having night sweats...

I haven't told anyone this until today. I feel a little funny saying it here. After all, I'm a runner. I do all things running. I write about it. I talk about it. I love it.

But let's stop and think about it. To meet my mileage goal at the end of the year, I did run a lot more running than when I would normally be winding down. Becky told me today that I ran way more last year than she would have liked. She said she understood my need to meet the goal. But it was a lot of miles.

While I'm on this little break, I'm kind of enjoying pedalling in the comfort of my family room. I'm having fun picking out cycling videos on YouTube. So far I've ridden in Italy, France, and Australia. It's not all fun and games and pretty scenery, though. When I climb off the bike, I'm sweating profusely. And it wasn't because of that guy in the France video who was wearing white bike shorts. White shorts and endurance sports should never happen. Just sayin'. No, I know I'm working hard because I've been wearing my heart rate monitor, and I've been riding in my target HR zone--between 140-160 BPM.

And because my foot is still bothering me, I'll take one more week before I head back out to the road. No one even had to twist my arm. It's supposed to be brutally cold this weekend anyways. Icy. Snowy. Cold. Brrr.

What? The cold never bothered me before. Am I getting soft?

Nah. Just a little burned out. Wrecked. 

No worry, I'll be out there soon enough. I've got a spring marathon to train for! Oh, that. Today, I asked Becky about a training plan. Her response?

"This isn't like your last one. You're supposed to just enjoy this one!" training plan? Yes, Becky's right, Big Sur is all about the experience, but it is still 26.2 freaking miles! With a few hills. 2000 feet of them. Says the flatlander. 

Becky is hoping that a lot of the weight training I'm doing will prepare me for the hills. After this strength cycle is complete, there's going to be more plyometrics and HIIT again. But mentally, I do need to do some hill training. Some speed work too. And some long runs. I'm going to piecework some kind of plan together. Experience will pay off here. I wouldn't recommend this approach if you haven't run a marathon before.

While I have 100% trust in my coach, I plan on working on that training plan this weekend. 

Today while I was at CrossFit, a woman from Becky's class introduced herself to me. She told me she reads my blog. She also told me she loves my pictures. Living in the area, she says can usually figure out where I take them, but she told me that they always look like some exotic locale. Well, how fun was hearing that? I always try to find beauty even in an area that isn't known for its ambiance. It's there. It all depends on your perspective.

Let's see if she can figure out where I took this one for SweatPink's #flexandflow challenge. Taking this picture was a mini-adventure. I was on my way home from yoga class and found the perfect spot for the pose of the day. As I was setting up to take this picture, I noticed a small dog running through the park. I watched him run, I realized it wasn't a small dog at all. It was a coyote! Luckily, he wasn't interested in me--they never are, I'm all gristle--and kept on going. Crisis averted. I set the timer on my phone and started to back up, getting myself in position to take the picture. I didn't realize I was standing on the edge of a hill, which was coated with an icy crust. My tree started to slide down the hill and I couldn't stop! I fell forward, put my hands down on the crusty surface, and clawed my way to the top of the slope. Just like a mountain climber, right? I looked around to make sure no one saw me, resumed the pose, and snapped the picture.

Completly unintentional.


Do you ever get burnt out on running or any other activity? What do you do to get your head back in the game? Any funny selfie stories?

Today I'm linking up this post with the DC Trifecta: Courtney, Cynthia, and Mar!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The perfect fit

Sorry about the swear...
Sorry if you thought this post was about shoes.

Over the past year, I've gotten a lot of questions about my training plan for my last marathon and also about my coach. I write a lot about my coach, Becky, who I work with once weekly and who trained me to run a 1h 10min PR at my last marathon. How did I end up with a CrossFit coach instead of a running coach? How does a runner find the right coach?

A couple of years ago, frustrated with slowing mile splits and nagging injuries, I decided to look into hiring a running coach. This seemed so self-indulgent to me--after all, only celebrities and elite runners have coaches, right? First world problems....But I wasn't ready to accept my slowing down as an inevitable part of the aging process. I figured that it would be worth it to see what a coach might have to offer. After ruminating out loud about this one day at my yoga class, a fellow student mentioned that a new coaching business opened around the corner from the studio.

How great! It was meant to be, right? Impulsively, because that's how I roll, I headed over there right after yoga class. The storefront was closed, but I knocked on the door, and the coach let me in. I told her what I was thinking about and she gave me her spiel. She was a former collegiate athlete, she told me. Talked about what she would do for me. I'd have to stop running. There would be "lots of drills". She'd rework my running form. She talked a lot. I couldn't get a word in. Wasn't this all about me? How does she know what I want and what I need if she's doing all of the talking? Doubt began to form in my mind, but I signed up for an evaluation the following week.

I left, feeling unsettled about my conversation with her. The evaluation was really expensive. And her philosophy, to have me stop running while she reworked my form? Do I really need to change my form? I've resisted all the fads: Chi Running, Barefoot Running, Changing from heel striking to forefoot striking, Running in costumes--ok, that last one doesn't have anything to do with form. I'm in my 50s, and the idea of reworking my running form just didn't feel right to me. I've been sidelined for injury and illness a few times in my 20+ years of running, and coming back is always hard. When I first was put in orthotics, it took my 8 weeks to get used to them. I didn't want to stop running. I didn't want to do anything drastic. I was looking for a way to run healthy.

You know how they say go with your gut? Well, mine was working overtime. Red flags were everywhere. I couldn't ignore this uneasy feeling I was having, so I called my friend Karen, who, with her husband, owns the local CrossFit box, to discuss this with her. Karen agreed with me that she didn't like what she was hearing. She talked to me about Becky, who along with being a CrossFit coach, is also a Corrective Exercise Specialist. Karen suggested that I meet with Becky, free of charge, for an evaluation. We also talked a lot about her husband Jim, who is former Ironman and marathoner, and who has been doing CF endurance workouts with a great deal of success. While I wasn't sure that working with a non-runner was the way to go, my gut liked what it was hearing, and so I cancelled my appointment with the running coach and met with Becky.

What a relief! To be done with my sweaty run? Or to have dodged a bullet in the form of an overzealous running coach?
At that first session, there was no running, no gait evaluation. Instead, Becky had me do some squats and lunges, while she photographed me. When we met again, a few days later, she talked about what I needed to work on. My hips, particularly my left hip, were weak. She wanted me to bag my orthotics, which I was still using at the time (they're gone now). Her other big concern? My posterior chain aka my glutes, which were not firing. I know what you're thinking. But that isn't the kind of firing she was talking about. I thought all this sounded reasonable. I figured I'd give it a go and see what happens. We began to work together, doing basic rehabilitation exercises weekly, with homework.

Becky told me that she was not a runner and didn't know much about running. She also told me that my running would be my own. I liked that. Meanwhile, as I worked with her over time, I noticed a gradual, positive change in my running. I started having fewer aches and pains. My stride became more efficient (economy!) and my mile splits started becoming faster. Feeling encouraged, I did everything she asked me to do. Eventually, we moved on from the rehab to more CrossFit type exercises. She had me start lifting weights, doing intervals, and some plyometrics. We worked on core strengthening, which has always been my nemesis.

No longer my nemesis! :)
If you have been following me, then you know the ultimate reward was my marathon last fall. When I won the free entry to the Chicago marathon, Becky developed a training plan for me. My faith in her ability to bring me to the finish line was 100%. And for the training, I gave control of my running to her. I followed that training plan to the letter, with the exception of substituting one run for a bike ride when some mama drama at home threatened to derail my mental toughness training.  Oh, and we worked on that too...

Becky and me, pre marathon!
Not everyone can find a coach that is a perfect fit. But you don't have to pick a coach just because they're a coach. In the spirit of the Friday Five linkup, here are five things to think about when you are shopping for a coach:

Nothing like someone by your side to push you on!
1. Virtual vs live? On my FB feed are quite a few folks who are advertising themselves as coaches, developing training plans for runners. I don't think there's anything wrong with that except that there is nothing like meeting with that person and getting feedback. Not everyone has access to a gym and if you do use a virtual coach, make sure that they really know what you're looking for. And with Skype and FaceTime, there's no excuse for not having live interaction!

2. One size fits all is not the way to go. Make sure that your training plan is personalized to your abilities and needs--my biggest mistake with my first marathon was using a training plan that was one size fits all (I followed one of Hal Higdon's plans). If you find a coach, you want a coach who interviews you, gets to know you, and develops a customized plan based on your needs. In addition, your coach should be willing to modify the plan based on progress or lack thereof. Nothing should be set in stone.

3. Does the coach incorporate cross training into the mix?  I'm a huge believer in not living on miles alone. As a matter of fact, if all you do is run, you may stop seeing progress and even become injured. Unless you are an elite runner or a genetic mutant,  a lot of high mileage is going to break you down. I'm not saying you have to do CrossFit. Time in the gym, weights, intervals, cross training activities, and yoga are all important components to making you a stronger runner. And there's plenty of evidence to support this.

4. Your coach does not have to be a runner.  I know this seems counterintuitive. Having running experience certainly is a plus. But no matter what their background, make sure your coach has training, experience, and certification to back them up. They should have background in training athletes, physiology, nutrition, sports psychology, and biomechanics. Ask for references. Anyone can advertise themselves as a coach. The woman I first met with, the running coach, only had experience as a collegiate runner--no certifications, no formal training. Yet, she's got a booming coaching business. Heck, I could be a coach too!

5. If it doesn't feel right, move on--I'm a huge believer in going with your gut. If you don't like what the coach is having you do, tell them or find another coach. Don't waste time and money working with someone who isn't a good fit. It may take a few tries to find the right coach.

So where do you find a coach? I already talked about virtual coaches, and RRCA and USATF has a listing of all their certified coaches on their website. Some local high school cross country coaches will coach runners on the side. Check with a local running store for names of coaches. Running clubs are also another good resource. Talk to running friends. If you want to go an alternative route, like I did, check with the local gym or CrossFit box.

I have to say that working with Becky is the best thing I have ever done, fitness-wise. I have never refused to do anything she has asked me to do, although I came close last week when she had me carry that 50# sack on my back while doing lunges. She is tough but listens to me. We make a good team. She doesn't shower me with praise but when she tells me good job, I know she means it. I know how lucky I am.

While I at first balked at paying for a weekly coaching session, the returns in the form of strong running and self confidence have been amazing. I used justify this because I don't belong to a gym, so I don't pay monthly fees for that. I don't drink Starbucks and I pack my lunch for work. Now I figure that this is a priority for me and something I'm willing to pay for. You have to decide what's important to you. At age 52, becoming a stronger runner is a choice I made. No regrets.

Do you have a coach? Virtual or live? Runner or non-runner? Share your experience!

I'm linking this post up with the DC Trifecta: EatPrayRunDC, Mar on the Run, and You Signed Up for What? for their Friday Five link up! Be sure to head on over to their blogs and see what everyone else has to say!

I'm also linking up with Jill Conyers for Fitness Friday! It's always fun to check out the blogs on this link up too!