Thursday, April 10, 2014

To Be or Not To Be Coached?

My first half marathon
Never once since I've started running has getting a coach crossed my mind.  The only reason I even started running was to get back in shape and feel better.  I just wanted to get back to feeling my normal self before I stopped swimming, went to grad school, had a baby and gained a bunch of weight in the process.  My goals were always the same from my first 5K to my first marathon, just finish. Emir is always on the computer researching everything we do in our lives, so I let him find what other runners considered to be the best training plans for beginners.  Then I had a second baby.  It was just hard to get in all the runs I wanted as a new mom of 2 vs just 1 especially since I was a nursing mom.  So I would always just run, never did any cross training or strengthening.

A recent family run. 
But even still. I did improve, a lot actually.  I managed after having baby #2 to lower my time from the

4:30 I ran at my first marathon to the 3:55 I ran at NYC this past November.  As I said last post, I had vowed after NYC to continue improving my marathon time towards hopefully ending up with a BQ.  Even though I had dropped so much time off my marathon really by only running, I knew I was going to need to do start doing more training wise for the OD marathon to continue my marathon success.  Plus I had the added twist of attempting my first 100K about a month and a half after the OD marathon.  Despite all this, it still never entered my mind "hey I should find a coach."  As you may or may have not noticed, I'm probably one of the lowest maintenance girls in the world (Emir will vouch for that!).  I hardly ever wear makeup, I never buy myself clothes, I literally wear what Emir calls pajamas to work (scrubs) and I really just never spend money on myself.  I would also much prefer Emir or my family to buy me practical presents than something that is a luxury.  For example if we are in need of something for the house or I need some new running shoes, I would much rather they get me those things.  I've also been seriously stalling on buying myself a new running watch.  It's just hard for me to justify spending $400 on something for myself when later I might want to get something for the kids and wish I hadn't spent so much on me.  I am actually going to get the watch soon since I need something longer than the 6-7 hours my nike+ gives me but it's only because I told everyone to give me gift cards towards it for Christmas and my birthday.

Time to say bye-bye
So anyway the point is, I would never have considered spending money on someone coaching me when Emir and I can find training plans online.  After NYC and Philly marathons, I actually researched a bunch of advanced marathon plans as well as 100K plans.  I knew I needed to start incorporating speedwork, hills and maybe some cross training.  Eventually I meshed together what I felt like was a descent plan.  I was actually pretty proud of myself.  Then Christmas morning, Emir hands me an envelope with a paper in it stating that Caleb Masland is now my running coach for the next three months.  What?!  We never even discussed this topic ever!  I was very surprised and actually didn't really know what to think at first.  I think I just felt bad that we were spending money on something that I felt like wasn't really necessary for me to have.  Emir on the other hand said otherwise.  He said he knows how much it means to me to eventually get that BQ and felt like now was the time that I could use that extra push to get me there.  He just really wanted me to have the opportunity to see what it's like to have a coach and see how it can benefit me. 

So that brings us to now.  Caleb has been coaching me since the beginning of the year.  As much as I hate to admit it (only because I didn't think having a coach was something you need for a sport in your 30s when it's not your job) but I am absolutely loving every mile, well maybe not every mile ;-)  There is something to having your weekly training plan just pop up in your inbox every weekend without having to second guess anything.  Of course if there is something going on that week in your life, all you have to do is email Caleb and he switches things around for you.  He also doesn't just have running on the plans.  He assigns strengthening routines, speedwork, hill work, stretching and yoga.  And he definitely tailors each runner's plan individually and does them weekly so that he can base it on how you handled the workouts the week before or if an illness or injury popped up.  But really the training plans are I feel the least of what Caleb does for his runners.  He is extremely accessible, very interactive, always supportive and positive.  He even spent time to talk to Emir about the HAT 50K even though Emir isn't training with him.  He was a great resource about what to do when I was sick, when I was going skiing (should I run that day or not), fueling, hydration, tapering, dealing with weather conditions, dealing with race nerves and basically anything that pops into my head.  I also really like the fact that he has created a team out of the runners he coaches.  When you sign up to train with Caleb, you are automatically a member of #teamwickedbonkproof and get an awesome singlet to wear too.  We have our private Facebook group where we post anything and everything running to each other.  We often ask each other running questions to get a group opinion or ideas.  Caleb often interacts as well.  We try to figure out if any of us will be at the same race and arrange a team get together.

So you might be thinking, "ok that all sounds great but has it helped?  Has it been worth it?"  And the answer is a definite YES.  It's not just that in only 3 months of working with Caleb, I was able to PR by 6 minutes in my marathon.  It's also that I can feel that I am a stronger runner and able to run more miles than ever before and feel better doing it than I ever did before.  Emir has also been making these same observations over the last few months.  So when this week Caleb emailed me letting me know that my 3 months were up and I had to decide if I was going to continue working with him, it was only a sort of difficult decision.  My only hesitation was my own hang ups about spending money on myself so once Emir got me past that, it was a no brainer.  Caleb's training is really helping me and I am really enjoying it.  He also helped me in figuring out that I have a solid chance of getting my BQ in November at the Philly Marathon as my qualifying time is actually a 3:40 for 2016 Boston Marathon. And I know my chances are much improved if I continue to work with Caleb.  So for now I will continue to be coached by Caleb and a proud member of #teamwickedbonkproof :-)
I am a very happy runner right now!


  1. This is a great post. I think it's great that Emir was able to convince you to keep the coach for something you are obviously enjoying. I understand the worry about spending money on yourself when you have a family with small children. But here's the thing (there's always a thing) you obviously love running and you say you feel better because of it. Your family - especially the children - really need you to feel good. So the investment in yourself benefits them too! Wishing you the best in your upcoming events. Keep smiling and keep moving - Paula

    1. Hi Paula! Thank you so much for your comments. I really appreciate it! And you are absolutely right. Sometimes it takes me a bit to get to that conclusion that a better me is a better everyone but eventually I get there, usually ;-) Thanks again!

  2. Indeed, coaching is incredibly important. I have even gone as far as to say that what I was doing before having a coach was not training, but simply running. Post coach is when I actually started TRAINING.