I’d always heard that having a coach makes a huge difference in how well you can train and what results you can expect.  There’s certainly a hierarchy when it comes to the levels of training one might go through before getting to the point where you hire someone to write out your plans, give you specific workouts to your history and your goals and is there to help you improve your form and answer any questions you might have.   That is absolutely the case with my running.

Doing it on my own was Layer 1; the Base.

My first level – the introductory level – was getting an app on my phone to help me train for a 5k; a Couch-to-5k (C25k) app!   I was able to use that same app to train for my first 10k, half-marathon and even the marathon.   But that’s where I balked.   I didn’t know enough about running to realize my marathon training was supposed to end with a target marathon.  I was brand new to all of this after-all.  I got to that last day where I was actually supposed to run a marathon and I decided that maybe instead of doing that, I should join a group.

Joining a training group was Layer 2; the full experience.

We had structured workouts which were within my fitness range, we had coaches and we had a plan.  There was always a friendly person there to help us out and answer our questions for us, there was a weekly plan that was mostly standard across the group, and there were pre-made routes for us to follow as we got to know the streets of Tucson.  The training worked and I ran my first marathon with a 3:55:00 time.   I continued working with the group but my interests meandered into ultra-running and eventually, I began training specifically with friends I had made in the group, writing our own plans, achieving our own goals.

But now, I have another monumental task ahead of me and getting the best result will require that I stack any and all advantages in my favor so that I can reach my goal; The Boston Marathon.

Hiring a Coach is the last Layer – 3.  This step includes putting the finishing touches on the cake.

Robert Scribner is pretty fast, he’s a professional runner and he’s a co-worker.  Most recently, he agreed to coach me to my first BQ – my “Super Bowl” goal from four years ago.  That’s pretty flattering.   He knows what he’s talking about, he’s been doing this a lot longer than me and at a much higher level, he’s seen many more styles of running and training than I have and he’s learned as much about what to do from watching others, as he’s learned what not to do, for the same reason.

Since hiring a coach and since I have begun following his plan to the letter, I actually do feel I’m making improvements and getting better.   I’m committed to working really hard and I’m trying to avoid temptations to over-train, go too fast on easy days, etc., and I think it’s paying off.  I’m seeing my times going down as I get a tiny bit faster.   On the last half of the week, when I expect I’ll be most exhausted and not able to run as “fresh”, I’m still pounding out solid time improvements at good distances with similar effort.

So that’s what the cake looks like.  Up to layer three, it definitely looked like a work in progress, but now that we have the bulk of the form in place, and as we get ready to start to put on the icing and add the finishing touches, it’s really starting to look like something good.

Hiring a coach is probably the smartest thing I’ve done as a runner with goals.

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