Several years ago I attended a seminar on preventing injuries. Big surprise, right? I think the biggest thing that stuck with me was when the presenter said “be your own coach”.
I know many runners who swear by their coaches. Although I’ve never hired a coach, I have thought about it and I have had some not-so-personal coaches.
This is the group I have run with during the summer for the last 4 years. There’s a head coach for the marathon and the half marathon groups. Then there are quite a few assistant coaches. Almost all of the assistant coaches are runners who have run with the group for at least a season, but most of them are not actual certified running coaches.
Don’t get me wrong: many of the assistant coaches are very knowledgeable.They are incredibly dedicated, having to get there before the group and stay until the last runner comes in. Some are very accomplished runners, too. But they’re not someone you would go out and hire to create a training plan for you.
I highly recommend USAFit to any runner, and many of the people in the group are like me, people who have been running with this group for years. They welcome fast runners and slow runners and never put anyone down.
Most of the halfs I have trained for with this group have gone well, but last year I did end up injured during my taper and that went was just okay. Even though the group tends to shrink over the course of training, there are still a lot of people under every coach.
I also worked with runner’s connect most of last year, so I was straddling 2 training plans and 2 coaches when I ended up injured last fall.
Runner’s Connect is an online community of runners, and the coaches coach multiple runners. Although I liked my experience with Runner’s Connect, I did feel that it was an overly aggressive plan for me and the time goal they picked for me seemed overly ambitious.
I ran 2 halfs with them and didn’t do well at either; I never came close to that time goal. One seemed mostly due to a freak heatwave (weeks of 50 degree weather before hand, race day dawned at 70 and went up from there). I ended that half feeling really strong, but my time definitely left something to be desired.
The second, as I mentioned, I was injured. Again, my time was disappointing and the last 4 miles were painful.
On more than one occasion I brought up the fact that the times on training runs seemed overly aggressive for me. I wasn’t hitting those times and I was frustrated. I was told it was a confidence problem, but I really don’t think it was — I think those times were simply too aggressive for me. They may have looked good on paper, but they weren’t working for me.
The coach adjusted my plan when I brought this up, but it just seemed to be a continuing problem for me and sometimes the coach wasn’t available due to travel or other obligations and I was asked to post to a forum for other coaches to help.
Many people love runner’s connect. I enjoyed many aspects of it, but in the end, it wasn’t the right fit for me.
So what about be your own coach?
I think about this a lot. There is so much conflicting advice out there. The presenter’s point was that only you know your own body and only you know how you’re feeling; both are valid points.
I continue to try out plans, and I’m getting a bit better at being my own coach — knowing when to back off, when to shift things around, when to adjust plans.
Yet I keep wondering if I could do even better with the right person to guide me. Someday, maybe, I will find the right coach and become the runner I think I can be. Not fast, just faster. Or maybe I’ll learn how to be my own coach — only better.
Are you your own coach? Or do you work with a coach?