Back in February I was perusing the interwebs looking for info on ultra running and trail running in San Antonio when I found UltraRunning Mom, Liza Howard’s blog. I’d heard of Liza and knew she was a freaking incredible ultra runner. After reading a few posts, giggling several times, checking out her pretty remarkable results on Ultrasignup and thinking that she seemed to be a really cool, speedy gal, I noticed her “Coaching” tab. I clicked on it. I was just getting going with my training for Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 (MMT) and had been considering hiring a coach. I needed guidance in my training. My declaration of “embracing my inner crazy” and all the fear and excitement that followed got me through my first hundred but I knew MMT was different. It is possibly the most technical 100 miler on the East coast–basically the polar-opposite of Ghost Train Rail Trails Race that was my first 100 back in October of 2012. That one was flat (it is a race run on rail trails after all). MMT, however, is a race that begins with gnarly, single track going up, and up, and up. As the race progresses, that theme continues. Even when the trail isn’t steadily climbing, one has to deal with rocks and creeks and treacherous downhills. I needed guidance cause even though I’ve given my “inner crazy” a big ‘ol bear hug and am not planning to let go, I didn’t know if that would be enough to get me to the finish line.
So, back to Liza. I clicked the tab and read about her coaching and decided to reach out. At the very least I’d get to talk with Liza Howard and if everything went well maybe I’d hire her. So, I sent her a message and wham-bam, within just a few hours I was on the phone with her. I have to admit I was starstruck on the phone. All I could think was – This chic WON Leadville, came in second at Western States and has won lots of other races! Soon though, I calmed down a bit and once I was off the phone, I knew I wanted her to be my coach. That was the first week of February and I haven’t for a second regretted my decision to hire her as my coach.
Here’s a breakdown of why I hired a coach and why I decided that Liza was the right fit for the job:
*EXPERIENCE. Liza has multiple 100 milers under her belt and has done well in nearly all of them. So she knows how to train, how to attack different obstacles that come up along the way, and because she has been running long for awhile, she has a lot of resources on top of her knowledge base.
*ACCOUNTABILITY. I needed an accountability partner on my training and Liza is that. She makes sure that I’m doing my workouts by checking our shared Google doc and asks questions that get to the point of how my training is going when we talk on the phone 1-2 times a week.
*TRACK RECORD.She has a proven coaching track record. On her coaching page there are testimonials of past clients. They had gotten the results they had hoped for and more. Everywhere I looked, I only read positive things about her.
*LIKABILITY. Maybe not important for everyone, but I wanted a coach who I liked, respected and enjoyed talking with. I look forward to calling Liza and talking to her about my training and our lives because she is upbeat, fun and funny.
*PUSH ME HARDER. REGIN ME IN. I needed someone to push me harder. Maybe give me that speed workout that I wouldn’t normally do because I don’t like them. At the same time, I needed someone who would say, “Whoa, now.” if I wasn’t feeling well or if I was achey and still wanted to give it my 110%. Someone to say, sometimes the best thing to do is rest. I definitely needed this as I developed IT band trouble the first week of March. Liza was smart and encouraging, and after a week and a half of only a bit of training, I was back and slowly ramping up mileage again. Without her, I may not have been so smart.
*BELIEF. She believes in me. Not because I pay her too, but because she sees that I’m doing the work and she is a positive person. She has helped me set reasonable goals for Massanutten and we both believe I can accomplish them.
*LOCATION. This may or may not be important to you. For me, it’s a bonus. I am getting to know Liza over the phone and email, and then, when I relocate to San Antonio next month, I get to meet her! I’ll also get to meet all of her running buddies and get started discovering my favorite trails there.
I know my craziness and my desire to run “crazy” distances will help substantially come race day, but knowing that I had the expert guidance of Liza will help more, I’m sure!
I would love to know if you have ever hired a coach or trainer for an athletic/fitness/health endeavor and if so, how the experience was for you? Would you do it again? Why did you decide to hire a coach?