What got me off the fence to hire a running coach for marathon training this year? Work, travel and injuries. Oh, and chasing that shiny PR.
As I’ve started ramping up my mileage for the 2019 Boston Marathon, I’ve gotten a lot of questions on Instagram about my marathon training plan and my thoughts on having a running coach. I did a Q&A with my best running friend about her experience with a running coach here, but today I’m sharing my thoughts on why I finally got off the fence and hired a coach myself.
Marathon training plans I’ve used
While I’ve always trained myself for races, this is the first time I’ve hired a running a coach. (I’ve run over 45 races that I can remember… 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, marathons, 24 hour relay races, you name it!)
Over the 13+ years that I’ve been racing, I’ve written my own training plans, followed someone else’s training schedule or used training plans out of Runner’s World Magazine. Or – not really had a plan!
- For my first marathon, a friend wrote me a training plan.
- In the last three years, I started using the Strava Summit for half marathon training.
- I used a Strava training plan for the Wrightsville Beach Marathon, where I got my first Boston Marathon qualifying time.
- For the 2018 Boston Marathon, I used a marathon training plan out of Advanced Marathon, which I reviewed here.
This year, as I’m gearing up for the 2019 Boston Marathon, I hired Enoch Nadler from Team Florida Track Club, who does e-coaching for people not located in Gainesville, FL. Enoch develops a personalized marathon training plan for me and adjusts as necessary. There are three main reasons I hired a running coach — reasons you may want to consider hiring a coach as well, regardless of your experience level.
Note: this is NOT sponsored by Enoch in any capacity. I pay him for his coaching and he doesn’t even know I’m writing this. 🙂 So, whether you use Enoch or someone else, trust these are my honest thoughts!
Three Reasons to Consider Hiring a Running Coach for Your Next Marathon
1. Managing a difficult schedule
TRAVEL: I have a LOT of travel coming up leading up to the Boston Marathon, including two trips in January, one in February, and one (possibly two) in March. That means multiple schedule shifts with my long runs, which is something I always stress over. I love putting the reins in someone else’s hands to manage all of the logistics of rearranging long runs.
WORK: Besides travel, I work a lot – usually 70-80 hours a week – and I often feel incredibly stressed out. While I love all the work I do and I obviously love running, directing my own training can be mentally draining. I don’t mean it in a negative way, but managing the logistics of my marathon training is one more project to manage. And that’s a project that I feel totally comfortable handing off to someone else to manage! It’s so nice to just look at the workouts Enoch assigns and do it. I don’t have to overthink it – I just have to go run it.
Even if you don’t work lots of hours, an unusual schedule may make it worth it to have a coach for marathon training. I have a friend who is a doctor who also recently hired a coach because his schedule is so unpredictable and has to adjusted and readjusted often. Between being on call, working nights and many weekends, it became cumbersome to manage his training plan.
2. Looking to PR
I mean, let’s be honest – I always want a PR. While that’s not entirely reasonable forever, I do think it’s reasonable for me to still PR in the marathon. Even though I was really happy with my time and experience at the 2018 Boston Marathon last year considering the conditions, I felt like I was trained to run it faster. And, I still feel relatively new at the marathon distance and want to test my potential. I’ve run four marathons compared to 20+ half marathons so I like the extra guidance on the marathon. And I do plan to use Enoch on for a half marathon training cycle since I really want to break 1:30!
3. Coming back from an injury (or two)
If you’ve had a running injury, you know it can hard to be to be smart about jumping back into training. A coach keeps you honest and calls you out on dumb moves. (Enoch has already done this for me, ha!) He stresses the importance of recovery days, rest days and cross-training when necessary.
PLANTAR FASCIITIS: I struggled with plantar fasciitis for more than half of 2018. The onset came right after I ran the Boston Marathon and there were entire months last summer that I couldn’t run more than 5 miles a week. I finally got to a point where it was manageable (here’s what I did to get to the point where I could run with plantar fasciitis), but I still have to be careful since certain things cause it to flare. Enoch is good to check in to see how things are feeling and adjust my schedule as necessary. He’s also had suggestions to further improve my plantar fasciitis, including a few things I hadn’t tried.
BACK INJURY: I had a pretty rapidly onset back issue last fall, right before we flew to Dublin. The day before our trip, I was laying on the floor in pain. Thankfully, it didn’t bother me on our flight and I only ran once during our trip so I wasn’t aggravating it. Once I got back, I got x-rays and found out my sacrum was extremely out of place. I’ve been working with a physical therapist, chiropractor and massage therapist to sort things out, and while things have dramatically improved, I still want to be cautious.
I have another post in the works about what I’ve learned after having a coach for a month. Keep an eye out for that next week!
If you’ve ever had a coach, I’d love to hear about your experience. And if you never have, why not? I’m curious! (I shared some of my own skepticism in this post!)
Are you a beginning/intermediate runner? Check out my Running 101 guide!