At the end of 2022, I’ve hired a Ultra Running coach to guide me with my 2023 season and I wanted to talk about the things I’ve learned since it’s been four months.
There are many reasons to hire a coach. Currently my main focus is to help me with my downhill running technique, not for a training plan or accountability. I am going to determine the success of my experience based on my comfort level of running downhill, speed changes on various hills I have run up and down to relative to my effort and how I complete in my 7th Red Top Rumble, 11.5 mile trail event.
Since her coaching involves a training plan, I am doing my best to stick with the plan, because I know how frustrating it can be as a coach when athletes deviate. “If you deviate significantly from the plan your coach gives you, the second something goes wrong, you’re in trouble. There’s no roadmap to look back on, no way to find where the wrong turn occurred. If you stick to the plan and it fails, course correction is much easier.”-Steve Magness
First Month (November 2022)
It’s important to discuss your expectations and find out if coaching is a good fit based on what the coach offers, what you are needing and communication style. Before I committed, we chatted on zoom, so she could learn more about what I was looking for and she could communicate what she offered. So far, lets give it a go.
A week later we met her at Kennesaw Mountain so she would watch me running downhill and create a week worth of workouts. So far, success! I understood what I was doing wrong and the skills she suggested I was able to implement and was excited to focus on those the next few runs.
Second Month (December)
It’s important to me when I start to coach a new athlete to gather more background information with regards to previous training, current training, time available to train, and just a little bit more about expectations with regards to the training plan. Her plan was very low running volume, she never inquired what my current volume was, I reminded myself, the training plan was not the reason I hired her. When we ran again, we discussed my intention for my event in February. I have run this event for 6 years and want to set a Personal Record. I needed to not deviate from the plan!
Third Month (January)
We met again the first week of the month at the location for my race and it proved to be another success. I am getting out of the relationship as I intended, to help with running downhill and managing courses. Plus, the camaraderie that comes along with a running partner and now friend. Then again, the week before my race, ehe complimented me on how much I have improved.
February- Race Recap
Overall, all the training on the course with my coach and following her tips was great. While racing, mentally recognizing what we worked on at sections was so helpful and overall the 11 miles went by fast. Goal achieved, I finished with a personal best time and Overall Female Winner.
I will continue to build this coaching relationship and see what the future training looks like.
My coach does not provide much feedback in my training log like I do. Her mode of communication is during our runs together. It’s important before you hire a coach to meet with you, to know if your schedules are compatible to make that happen. As a coach my communication is mainly online in the training peaks training log as well as email and text. So we do vary in that and that wasn’t clear when I hired her.
Training plan details
By the end of December, the details of the plan were the same and it just felt generic. I prefer variety and more details and she does not provide feedback in my training log, which is disappointing. Some changes in January on the weekly intense workout changed, everything else, recovery and long runs stayed the same.
And, I had to keep telling myself that I hired her to meet me in person, not for the training plan so just need to commit until after my first event to decide if the relationship will workout
Deviating from the Plan
This quote from Steve Magness “If you deviate significantly from the plan your coach gives you, the second something goes wrong, you’re in trouble. There’s no roadmap to look back on, no way to find where the wrong turn occurred. If you stick to the plan and it fails, course correction is much easier.” This also holds true if you have success. I did not deviate significantly, I did add some running volume and have been into endurance sports for 30 years, so my success is based on many factors.
Accountability: Share in the joy
I was thrilled mid December when I ran super fast, with not much effort on a technical downhill. It was just great to be able to text my coach and share my excitement. So there’s something to be said about doing the same workouts week after week after week. It’s just an adjustment and an adaptation that I have to have and give it some time to see if it’s gonna work.
“Success is not about knowing a bunch of great workouts or theories, or prescribing workouts, coaches master the theoretical side, effectively deliver, implement, and install confidence in each athlete. They should also Establish positive accountability and just in time feedback and appreciate the patterns and responses of different athletes, understand personalities and profiles. A great teacher will realize how little they know and how much they can still learn. A great coach does not evolve behind a keyboard, they listen and share and are always learning with the athlete”
Success is the desired outcome, however you define success. The training plan should help you meet your goals and you should commit to follow it . As long as you follow the prescribed plan the program should work for you. If it doesn’t, sit down with the coach and ask questions, lots of them. You are paying for his or her help, so you should get answers.
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