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Posted by on Mar 12, 2014 in Running | 13 comments

My Running Coach

I’ve been running for a long time. In fact, I’m still in my running clothes from this morning’s workout (don’t judge) and my shirt is from the 2006 Disney Half Marathon. It’s an oldie, but a goodie.

Image 2I love 15Ks and half marathons. Those are my go-to race distances. I find the distance to be challenging, but it doesn’t require the devotion needed to run a full marathon so I can still enjoy other aspects of my life (read: wine and ice cream). It’s always been a good balance for me.

I ran cross country in high school, but with the exception of that period of my life I’ve never trained with a coach. I’ve had some wonderful running partners through the years and I credit them with introducing me to long distance running. I think I would have ran 5Ks forever had I not started running with the group of girls I got in with nearly 10 years ago. They made me love running before I actually loved running. I didn’t always love waking up early and putting on my running shoes, but I loved chatting with some of my best girlfriends for an hour while we tackled some miles before the sun came up. Somewhere in the midst of all that girl time I realized running gave me something I didn’t have. It gave me confidence. It gave me an outlet to release stress. It gave me time to think and figure out life. It allowed me to release endorphins and endorphins make me happy (sorry – couldn’t resist). And it gave me an hour to chat someone’s ear off when they couldn’t get away.

IMG_1010I eventually moved to a new city and by then I was in love with running enough to do it on my own. Running by myself was therapeutic in a whole new way.

It wasn’t until I got Ob and began running with her that I noticed my times improving. She brought back some life to the sport for me. She made it fun and of course, she pulled me which really helped cut down those splits.

IMG_1035Fast forward 3 years and I’m ready to take my running to a new level again. Spice things up a bit, you know? So I hired a running coach.

I mentioned to Dave on several occasions that I would love to work with a running coach. Then we both signed up for the NYC half marathon, only Dave got in and I didn’t (that race is a lottery system). And I wasn’t even that sad about it because my heart wasn’t really in the race. I knew I needed a different goal. I have so little free time because of Atlas and I don’t want to spend 2 hours running on a Saturday. I’ve been there, done that and while I certainly hope to do it again, this just isn’t the season of life for that right now.

IMG_0967Even though I didn’t want to train for 13.1 miles, I still had a strong desire to run. I talked to Dave again about working with a running coach to improve my 10K time. It just made more sense for this stage of my life. I could run a 10k, but my goal was to run it faster. And not just a minute or 2 faster –  I wanted to make the most of my runs in the morning and shave some serious time off my splits. But I’m not a professional runner so I’m pretty clueless on how to do that effectively and safely. I have always enjoyed running intervals, but they never had any real rhyme or reason to them. I just ran until I felt like I was going to have a heart attack.

A few weeks ago Dave and I were at a local NYC running store when we ran into Shannon, a girl who used to work with Dave. She is now training for the 2016 Olympic Marathon team (so yeah, she’s crazy fast) and through our conversation she mentioned that she coaches running and she was taking on clients. I jumped on the opportunity and within a week Shannon and I were working out the details of my training. She’s an elite runner – as in, she actually runs races to win them. That blows my mind. I have never set out for a race (with the exception of high school cross country) and thought, “I hope I win this.” I stand at the start line and think things like, “I hope I don’t have to stop running” and “I hope I don’t die. I wonder how many miles I have to run before they hand out water?” I did win for my age group at 1 half marathon and I was so proud. I won big – I won a mug. We sold 75% of our stuff before our move to NYC, but you better believe that mug made it to the Big Apple. It has sentimental value…like my 2006 Disney running shirt…I just can’t part with it.

IMG_0985Anyways, in addition to being super fast, Shannon is spunky, motivating and encouraging! She sends me my workouts for the week (usually includes 4-5 runs) and she makes them flexible since I have to be flexible right now due to a little thang called motherhood. We’ve come up with an end goal for me to run the Central Park loop (it comes out to a 10K distance) at a specific pace by June. Central Park is a tough run (so.many.hills) and I’ve got a lofty goal (for me). However, I figure if I “shoot for the moon and miss, I’ll still land among the stars.” ← There’s your cheesy sentiment for the day.

I’m by no means a competitive runner. I don’t even consider myself fast. My goal 10K time is a pace that is fast for me. I didn’t hire a running coach because I want to win races or break any world records. I just want a personal challenge – something to work towards. I want to see what my body is capable of over the next few months. And that’s the great thing about running. It is so personal. You decide if you want to focus on going farther or faster…or both. You control how hard you train and you dictate what you get out of it by what you put into it. There have been seasons of life where I was perfectly content just running for the heck of it with no real end goal in mind. There were seasons of life where it was just all about the next half marathon. But I’ve come to a place where I want to push myself to new limits…at least for the few hours a week that Atlas allows it. So for now, I’m putting those long distances on the back burner and focusing on getting faster. It is new, exciting and fun, which in my opinion is exactly what running should be. And when speed work  isn’t fun anymore, I’ll spice it all up again and hopefully go back to training for those long races…you know, when Atlas is in kindergarten and I get some free time back. 😉

I think the point I’m trying (and maybe failing) to make is that we evolve as runners. We go through phases. We make progress. And progress looks different for every runner.

I’m not going to post all my workouts/runs on the blog because it is a service I pay Shannon for. However, I will be talking about some of my runs in detail from time to time. Like yesterday, I did a Fartlek run. It was almost as much fun to run as it is to say. During a Fartlek run, you basically run sprints whenever you get the urge and you go more off perceived exertion than the time on your watch. Today I did a set of hill sprints in combination with an easy 3 mile run and the lactic acid coursing through my legs from those sprints made me want to cry. It was great!

If you’re interested in hiring Shannon as a running coach, you can reach out to her at She does virtual training and the more info you give her about your goals/training the more she can tailor your workouts to help you accomplish your goals (i.e. running at this pace I can talk vs. running at this pace I sound like a birthing water buffalo). She’s been great at answering my questions via text (it is the only way I can communicate these days) & altering my training to better meet my needs.

And in other running news, this little guy went for a short run with me for the first time.

ImageIt was a short 2 miles, but he did great! Pushing that stroller was work though! Phew!

And all you runners out there be sure to send lots of happy running thoughts Dave’s way this week! The NYC Half Marathon is this weekend and he’s ready to rock it! 🙂


  1. Working with a running coach sounds like such a fun idea (and it seems all the bloggers are doing it these days ;)) I’m looking forward to seeing your progress!

    Sidenote – how did Atlas do in the BOB? Did it seem like he was pretty secure in there to you? I plan on getting one also and love hearing other moms review their experience.

    Good luck to Dave this weekend!

    • Much to my surprise, Atlas did great in the BOB! I think he liked looking out at all the other runners and seeing what was going on around him. He wasn’t shaking around and he was very secure. He just chilled in there and kicked his feet the whole time. My pediatrician advised that I not run with him until he was 5 or 6 months old because she said the constant vibration isn’t good for an infant’s neck/head. When I took Atlas to the doctor last week for his 5 month check up, she said he was good to go for runs now though because he has good neck control. The BOB is fairly light and super easy to collapse and store – it is a great stroller! I think Atlas will enjoy riding along for my runs even more when he can actually hold onto a toy or an iPad for the duration of the run. 🙂

      • I love hearing good reviews on the BOB – thank you!! It makes it so much easier for me to commit to the investment when I know it will be well worth it!

    • Thanks, Heather! I’ll be sure to keep you guys in the loop with my progress just in case anyone else is considering taking the plunge and working with a coach! 🙂

  2. I think it is awesome that you hired a running coach! It seems like Shannon is the perfect fit for your life right now! I’m excited to follow this journey with you. You go, girl! 🙂
    Kate @ Quarter Century Southern Living recently posted..A Letter To MeMy Profile

    • THanks, Kate! I’m excited to document different aspects of my new training plan! For now, I’m chowing down on homemade cookies though…haha – hopefully these sweet treats won’t impact my run too much tomorrow

  3. I like stroller running and can’t wait until the snow melts here to take it out.

    Atlas looks just charming in that photo – although he made it through the run his facial expression looks like “Man mom, more photos?” Too cute!
    Jade recently posted..Embracing Spring!My Profile

    • Jade, I think stroller running makes mama’s faster! Running while pushing a baby adds an element of difficulty. I love getting to do something I enjoy so much while Atlas rides along though, so I don’t mind the added challenge.

      We are getting a major cold front in NYC tomorrow though so the stroller will get put back up for a while…yesterday was just a teaser for Spring!

  4. I love everything about this post. First of all, did you know you are a good writer? Because you are! You are captivating!

    Second, that is SO cool you hired a running coach. You’re going to get even crazy fast(er)!! And you won for your age group at a race? Holy smokes.

    I love that you said that you want to train faster/harder –that is such a great feeling, huh?

    Reaching for the moon, falling among stars brought tears to my eyes (oh hormones)….but legit, I love that. And you will reach your goals!! You’ve got this.

    p.s. Legally Blonde is my all-time favorite movie-hands down. And it was the first movie Jared watched with me (long story….but basically I practically knew he was the one b/c he would watch it with me!)
    Annette@FitnessPerks recently posted..WIAW-Hungry OftenMy Profile

    • Annette, what a sweet comment! This made me smile from ear to ear when I read it. Thank you so much for the sweet compliment.

      And you and Jared are too cute! Love that he will watch Legally Blonde with you. Dave will watch Sweet Home Alabama and Serendipity with me (2 of my favorite chick flicks) – definitely a sign we found good men, right? Dave even pretends to enjoy the Bachelor with me from time to time. lol

  5. I think that everything happens for a reason and that is so true with you and your new running coach!! And I am so glad you got a BOB – I love taking Luke running. He has put in so many miles in that thing. . . I am looking forward to nicer weather to put in a few more. 🙂
    Katie @ running4cupcakes recently posted..My new favorite gym bag {Apera review + giveaway}My Profile

    • Katie – you are a machine! Running while pushing a stroller is no joke! But a hard and challenging run is better than no run at all! 😉 The BOB is great!

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