The other day I ran across this blog post on criteria for hiring a running coach. The post was written by Jennifer Harrison, a Chicagoland triathlete coach. The article mentions a lot of good things to consider, among them: credentials, communication, goals, likability, balance… basically, find a coach who knows what they are doing, listens to you, understands your goals, helps you fit your training in to your life, and communicates with you the way you prefer.
I’ve actually been working with a running coach – Britt from Chicago Runner Girl – since December 5, 2011. I was going to write that I’ve always thought it would be fun to work with a running coach, but never had, but… I actually found this not so old blog post of mine where I said I wouldn’t be any good at working with a coach – because I like my schedule to be flexible, and I wouldn’t do the workout if they weren’t there! Ha! How untrue that has turned out to be. Anyway, more on that in a bit.
That short article on what to look for in a coach got me thinking about why I asked Britt to work with me. I didn’t actually look at any lists or suggestions for how to hire a coach. I had been reading Britt’s blog for awhile and had a feeling we would be compatible – she lives in Chicago (proximity), she’s married without children and has fur babies (understands my similar lifestyle), she’s very optimistic (I can use some encouragement) she really pushes herself (runs high mileage weeks/5+ runs a week) and she encourages strength training (knows I want to fit that in to my schedule). Oh! And she has a rockin’ runner’s bod… which lets me fantasize that I could look like that someday if I workout like her (ha ha).
We met in late November to chat about my goals and how we would structure the communication. We discussed a few options, and I ultimately decided I would like a customized running schedule each week (instead of all of the program up front). I give her my schedule for each week a few days in advance of the week starting, and she develops a running schedule based on my availability. We talk on the phone once a week to touch base, and we email a few times a week too.
So far, it’s worked out wonderfully! It’s funny – I was chatting with Britt on Saturday and telling her how much I liked working with her, when she said how fun it is for her to create a schedule then not have to run it! Ha! I have been thinking the exact opposite – how nice it is to have someone give me a schedule so I don’t have to think about what I am doing, but just get out there and do it. See? Compatibility!
I love being coached. When I finish a challenging workout it makes me feel strong and confident. And Britt is extremely supportive and encouraging too, which I now realize is beneficial to my running.
It’s really funny to me to look at that old blog post where I said I like my running to be sporadic, so I am not stressing about fitting things in. That was so true for me at the time! But now, it’s working so well – I get my schedule on the weekend, put it on a special exercise calendar in google (which I share with Steven) and I plan my week out. It’s less stress because Britt knows what I have going on, and made sure the workouts fit my schedule.
Trying to beat my PR from this race!
Right now, we are working on a 5K PR on February 26. We are also maintaining my endurance base too (that was a request of mine). I suppose the real test will be if I make the 5K PR! I think I will be able to unless we have some crazy freak snowstorm.
After the 5K, we’ll see what I tackle next, hopefully with Britt’s coaching again!
What would you look for in a running coach?