Working with a Running Coach: Interview with Antonio Vega
I had the benefit of starting my running career with a running coach. In both high school and college, I was privileged to work with amazing coaches who taught me how to run. From the fundamentals of running, to tricks and tactics to use during a race.
The first time I worked with a running coach as an adult 18 years later… I was not only intimidated, but also a little skeptical. How could this person who barely knew me, help me become a stronger runner? Some of the guys I was running with, (who were also working with him), kept saying, “trust him.”
As time went on, I did in fact grow to trust him. He not only helped me reach a PR in the half marathon and marathon, but I finished both of those races not crawling to the finish line.
In January of 2014, I began working with coach Antonio Vega. Below are a few insights I’ve learned from working with him. If you have ever thought about hiring a running coach, consider the following. Check out my interview with him below for more insight.
What is It Like Working with a Coach?
At first, it can be intimidating. Then you realize that regardless of how fast or experienced your coach is, they genuinely have your best interest in mind. At least, that’s the way it should be. If your coach doesn’t, find a new one.
When I started working with Antonio, I felt like I was trying to impress him. Perhaps being too generous with my times. It wasn’t until I realized he cares more about my progress than my specific times that I was able to relax.
Helping you make progress is a huge benefit of working with a coach. Angie, one of our writers who is also working with Antonio, says;
Antonio (like any good coach), can usually pinpoint why a workout didn’t go well, then help me get back on track. 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 some days might just suck. Because: There is always that.)
Benefits of Having a Running Coach
While everyone has different reasons for working with a running coach, I have found these three things to be the biggest value to me.
1. Custom Training Plan
Having someone who can adjust your plan as needed has been invaluable. Too often I find myself either ahead or behind of where a traditional plan may have me.
2. They Can hold you Back When Needed
In the same way that a coach will push you beyond what you thought you were capable of, they will also hold you back – protecting you from yourself. Easy running days exist for a reason!
3. A Coach Can Motivate and Encourage you, While Keeping you Grounded
As Angie mentioned above, I will often focus on the one or two negatives about a workout or race. A coach can help you capitalize on the positives, while working to correct the negatives (instead of just wallowing in your own self-pity).
They act as a level set for your audacious running goals. They provide perspective and help you stretch farther than you thought you could, without killing you along the way.
A Caution about Coaching
I will be the first person to say that hiring a running coach isn’t for everybody. For starters, it isn’t cheap. While it isn’t crazy expensive, I fully understand that many runners struggle to simply pay the registration fees for all the races they want (myself included).
I bring that up because I think coaching is most helpful during a specific season of your running career. If you are trying to hit a big goal, or feel stuck in your training, a coach can get you over that proverbial training plateau.
If you are brand spanking new to running, you also may just want to try it out for a bit before jumping into the world of coaching. On the other hand, maybe you want the security that comes from knowing you are doing it right.
Interview with Coach Vega
If you’re curious about what it’s like working with a coach, I interviewed coach Vega recently, both to give you some insight into what it’s like, as well as to talk (briefly) about some coaching opportunities we are going to be launching January 1.
Go here to learn more about our Grandma’s Marathon Training team. Shortly, we will be launching three different coaching options to help you hit those marathon goals.
Have you ever worked with a running coach? What are some of the pros and cons you have found. Share them below.