Health & fitness

Why I use a running coach

I’m a pretty average runner. It’s not my job. I don’t win races (actually, I did win one once, but it’s certainly not a regular occurrence). I’m not setting the running world alight with my times. But I’ve got a running coach. Something which two years ago, I probably would have scoffed at. And which people probably still do, behind my back.

My coach sets my training plans for me – I use plans for target races and am probably following a plan for at least 6 months of the year – and is there for advice throughout.

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But why does a ‘hobby runner’ need a coach? I know of many ‘better’ (faster) runners than me who go it alone, but here’s why it works for me.

The plan

I used to devise my own training plans, based on what I’d read online and in magazines. And there was nothing wrong with that. I knew to include a long run, a tempo run and a speed session each week and I did get faster. The thing is, when I was deciding what paces to run at, I would stick well and truly in my comfort zone. There’s no way I pushing myself to hit those scary paces if I didn’t need to.

But a coach doesn’t have the same biased opinion of your limitations. They know what you can achieve with the correct training and mindset so set the plan accordingly, including those scary paces. Tip: don’t look too far ahead in the plan – it’ll scare the bejeezus out of you.

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No excuses

When I was planning my own training, a small voice in the back of my head knew that this gave me a get-out. An excuse. If I didn’t perform well, then who could expect anything more – I’m self-coached, no experts in my corner. It’s taken a while to see this as a negative rather than a positive. I don’t want any excuses anymore. I want to give myself the best shot and see what I’m truly capable of.

Accountability

If I don’t complete a session or cut it short, it’s not just me who will know about it. Your coach knows what you’re supposed to be doing and Strava is more than ready to show you up if you don’t. There are of course sessions that I can’t help but miss – through injury (looking at you Hip of Doom) or illness, but it helps avoid those cases of can’t-be-arsed-itis.

Linford Wood 1

A sensible head

This post was inspired by the situation I find myself in currently. I’ve got a hi[ injury that I’m continuing to run through. I’ve had treatment but continued to run straight after. My osteopath has now recommended (somewhat sensibly) that I have some more treatment but actually REST afterwards this time. My first thought was, nope. I’m not resting. I’ve got a race this weekend and a half marathon in a month. Injury aside I’m feeling fit and I don’t want to lose that.

Enter coach. He looked at my plan, tweaked it and scheduled in a week of rest. There’s still enough running in there to leave me confident of achieving my race goals, but without his input I would have just kept running through the pain and inevitably made it worse.

So thanks coach, here’s to you.

Linford Wood 4

(If you’re in the market for a coach I can highly recommend mine.Β GreenlightPT)

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