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.
I 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.
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.
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.
Even 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.
Anyways, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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! 🙂