Now that I have a running coach…

By , January 18, 2012 5:02 am

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?

23 Responses to “Now that I have a running coach…”

  1. Losing Lindy says:

    I know you prefer not doing downtown races, but I have heard great things about the Solider Field 10.

  2. shelley says:

    Compatibility..I like that! I’ve had many triathlon coaches over the years, but never a running coach. I’m excited to read how you make out with this!!

  3. Over the years my best (skating) coaches were ones that pushed me hard. So that is something I would look for. Also, someone to help me learn to work running into my daily life and schedule! That’s a challenge for me and it would be nice to have someone do it for me.

  4. Kelly says:

    That’s funny that you mention this because I was JUST thinking how I should look into a coach. I’m going to do some investigating and maybe talk to Britt too! 🙂 Thanks for the great post!

    • kilax says:

      Definitely talk to her! We mesh really well. I love having her as my coach!

      • Kelly says:

        I’ve seen her blog before but never seriously thought about getting a coach. I shall have to do some research and think about it. Thanks again for the suggestion!

  5. Kandi says:

    I’m not sure I’ll ever want a running coach. Of course, you said the same thing and then got one so I guess I can’t say never. haha. I think my times just aren’t very important to me even though I do try to improve and have some goals.
    I’m glad your coaching is going so well. I’m interested to see how it pans out on race day. It sounds like you’ve been doing some good speed workouts (which is what I always lack in my training).

  6. Michel says:

    This is interesting. One of my friends well my former coach has struck a deal with me. We switch roles and she buys me shoes. I won’t be really coaching but more like motivating her to get her runs in and then we’ll start training for races.

  7. Jen says:

    You know that Jen Harrison that you mention at the beginning is the coach for the Ironman blog I told you about, right? She’s the one who is giving my friend the free Ironman training…

    • kilax says:

      Ha ha ha ha ha! I did not realize that! I liked the article she wrote. What did you think?

      I left a comment on your friend’s blog. Will she be there on Sat?

  8. bobbi says:

    I actually entered a contest Jen had back in December for free coaching for 2012. I didn’t win, but thought the experience would be SO FREAKING COOL.

    My concerns about having a coach are very similar to your initial reservations (with flexibility). I am so glad it is working out so well and I can’t wait to see how you do at the Frosty Footrace!

    • kilax says:

      My friend Jen (not the trainer) friend’s won the training with her! She started a blog about it 🙂

  9. Erin says:

    I do love that Britt takes your “life” schedule into account when working out your running schedule. I think that’s what I would definitely need if I had a running coach.

  10. gina says:

    I think I would do well with a coach for may reasons. Motivation, having a plan of action, and most important, having someone know what they are talking about, because I surely don’t!

    So happy to hear that you are meshing well with your coach and really having a great time with the training!

  11. Glad to hear how the training is going! For the workouts, how challenging have you been finding them? Is it something that you’re able to accomplish (but hadn’t been pushing yourself), or are they at that point where you almost can’t make the pace/distance/interval?

    • kilax says:

      The workouts are very well tailored to where I am at right now, with my speed/endurance. I can make the pace for my intervals and I can keep up with the distance throughout the week. I could do speedwork on my own, but didn’t! 😉 And I like having someone else tell me what to do 🙂

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