My Special Kind of Crazy Needed Some Coaching. Does yours?

I hired a coach who knows I do the work and who honestly believes in me.  Image credit: www.purlingsprite.com

I hired a coach who knows I do the work and who honestly believes in me. Image credit: http://www.purlingsprite.com

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?

 

Advertisements

Training Lemons

Image

Image credit: blog.glamourdrops.com

The past couple of weeks, I feel like I’ve been given lemons when it comes to my race training.  So, I’m trying to follow the old adage of “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, but I don’t think I like the taste, which is odd cause normally, I really like the taste of lemonade.

It all started after the 39 mile Massanutten training run a few weeks back.  I thought I was fine, but then several days later IT band and glute pain creeped up and started tormenting my every move.  I couldn’t run without pain, biking hurt, even walking and climbing down the stairs was quite uncomfortable.  Then, just as my IT band seemed to be on the mend, my left shoulder, which I have had some issues with in the past, started giving me fits.  So, now “The Burpee Queen” can’t do burpees!?

Last Friday I had a fantastic sports massage.  Immediately I felt relief in my IT band, hammies and hips. He also focused on my shoulder for a few minutes, but unfortunately, I don’t believe it helped all that much.  My IT band definitely is better now that before the massage and I think it allowed me to get in a few miles last weekend, however, Saturday’s miles may not have been the smartest ones I’ve ever logged.

So, like I was saying, Saturday I logged some miles.  Actually, 7 treachorous miles of icy hiking and running up to a peak of around 2334 ft. It was fun and all, but given the toll the few falls I took on the super icy descent had on my butt muscles (still sore), it probably wasn’t worth it. The next day I got up and ran a slow 11 miles.  It was supposed to be a 15 miler, but the IT band was starting to flare, so I cut it short.

Less than two months out from Massanutten and I’m nowhere close to where I should be physically. Admittedly, I’m bummed.  It’s not fun when things aren’t going your way and you really want to run and workout the way that you’re used to.  I keep making adjustments – more time stretching and foam rolling, more icing, more core workouts, more yoga, more short slow runs, jump squats instead of burpees, and I keep trying to smile.  While all this is good and my fitness isn’t horrible, I hope it’s enough to get me to the finish line just under two months.

All my injuries, plus the unrelenting snow, ice, cold, and rain is less than ideal.  Look, I’ve seen the memes about “real runners” getting out there no matter the weather and pushing through.  But you know what, I’m a Southerner.  I’ll take the humidity, mud, summer thunderstorms, and intense heat over this snow every weekend nonsense any day.  I’m ready to hit the trails in fewer than 3 layers.  Call me soft if you want, but I’m just telling the truth.

Alright, enough with my whining. This weekend I’ll be toeing the starting line at the TARC 6 hour race with a goal of logging as many miles as possible without pain.  If IT band pain creeps up, I’ll have to pull out, I’m afraid.  Hoping for the best.  No matter what, it will be a great day on the trails with fellow Trail Animals getting to play in the mud.

Next weekend, Ken and I are heading back down to the Massanutten course for a 26 mile night run.  Will my legs be healthy by then? I hope so.  It should be fun to log those miles with Ken and get some hiking in even if I can’t run as much of the course as I’d like.

Well, let me get back to sipping my too-tart-lemonade and looking out the window wishing for warmer weather to arrive.

Keep running!

❤ Jen