How Hiring a Running Coach Improved my Love for Running
When I first started running about 5 years ago, it was mostly a “let’s see if I can do X-distance” kind of a challenge for me. I thrive off challenge.
It started out with a 5k, which I swore I’d never run again. Then, it turned into a 10k. (Still hated it). Then I got roped into my first half marathon out in California. This was the first race I followed (to the T) a real training plan to prepare me. It was a Hal Higdon Novice Half Marathon training plan.
Moving to the Marathon
After a few half marathons, I decided to venture into marathon territory. Again, following a Hal Higdon Novice Marathon plan. But more like a… ‘adapt-it-to-my-life‘ training.
I ran about 3-4 days a week. Most of the time, solely for distance. Why? Because I didn’t really know any better, or what I was doing. I didn’t know how to do sprints, at what pace, or how many. I didn’t know what was too much, and what was not doing enough.
So, I did what was safe and I knew would get me across the finish line and just built up my distance. This method did it’s job, but it slowly killed my soul in the process.
After training and completing my 3rd marathon last October. I was pretty burned out. Running more than 3 miles sounded more like a nightmare and a chore. I didn’t really know why, but I thought maybe I was just ready to move on to something else.
A new challenge. After all, I had already proved myself that I could do those distances.
A New Challenge
At the end of last year, Minneapolis Running crowd-sourced some runners who were interested in joining up with a coach for an 8 week pilot program. No strings attached, if I hated it, couldn’t do it… I could just jump ship.
With a little coercion/encouragement from Nathan, I agreed to try it out. After all, I hadn’t been running much post-Chicago marathon and needed some winter motivation. Badly.
My Unwarranted Fear of Coaching
I will admit, I went into this with a lot of irrational fears. Most of these fears completely unwarranted, since I had no previous experience with a running coach.
To me, I thought a running coach would always be like that Big Brother ready to lecture you on missing a workout, not doing a run well, or just someone holding me accountable for an unrealistic training plan for my taste.
I went into my initial meeting with my soon-to-be-coach, Antonio Vega, very nervous and not entirely sure what to expect. We sat down for a short appointment to discuss my running history, my goals, and past trainings. I clearly remember stating to him “I’m not a 6-7 day a week runner…and probably won’t ever be… so just so you know that.” I think he just smiled and nodded. Because that changed pretty fast.
After only a couple weeks into this group training program, I noticed something; I wasn’t feeling the same burnout and boredom I was previously experiencing. I actually had structured workouts.
There was a method to the madness.
I wasn’t just running to run anymore. I was paying attention to pace somedays, time other days, and even taking it easier on other days. It wasn’t the same thing over and over again.
The Difference in Training
Throughout my first 8 weeks, I realized that this training program was not only more than “tolerable”, but I also was sort of enjoying the new challenge. After all, the distance itself was no longer the challenge for me, but now I had a new challenge: I can actually become a better runner! (Imagine that!).
The sense of accomplishment I got after finishing workouts at paces I had never attempted (nor thought I could ever do) was almost that same sense of accomplishment I’d get from crossing that finish line. So I knew I was hooked.
After the 8 weeks of the pilot program, I decided to continue on training with Antonio. I had already felt like I made good progress in 2 months, so I had to see what more Antonio could help me do!
I ran my first race under his guidance in March. I knew I had been working hard, but I’ll admit, I was terrified of the goal pace he told me to shoot for. I had never done a pace like this in a race before. This was uncharted territory for me. However, he instilled confidence in me that I could do this.
So, I went for it, and to my surprise was pretty darn close. I told Antonio after the race, I fully acknowledged I may not have tusted him with what he thought I could do. He sarcastically joked back at me saying,
It’s almost as if I know what I’m talking about!
(He SERIOUSLY knows what he’s talking about.)
Why I had a Wrong assumptions on Hiring a coach
Clearly, my initial assumptions of what having a coach would be like were very skewed. Antonio is one of the most humble, encouraging, and knowledgeable people in the sport of running. As a former elite runner, he really does know his stuff and I feel very privileged to have his experience to teach me. I have completely grown to trust his expertise and guidance. He is now known in our coaching group as ‘The Voice of Reason‘.
Antonio (like any good coach), can usually pinpoint why a workout didn’t go well, then help me get back on track after. Instead of allowing me to get frustrated or upset about a workout/race that didn’t go how I wanted it to go, he’s usually the first to spin the positive and encourage me in the things that went well. (Or just remind me that somedays might just suck. Because: There is always that.)
One of the biggest benefits for me, is Antonio helps me figure out a realistic, but challenging pace to do my workouts and races at. Previously, I lived in my comfort zone. If it didn’t feel comfortable, I didn’t want any of it. Now, I’m used to living outside that. No, it hasn’t been easy. It’s been hard work. But that’s where the magic happens.
Never would I have ever thought I’d hire a running coach. But I can honestly say, I know I wouldn’t be going after the goals I have set now, had I never taken on this challenge.
Do you Need a Coach?
If you’re interested in hiring a coach, let us know and we can help get you connected with Antonio, or others who will help you reach your goals.