Last year August I signed up with a running coach. I secretly hoped that he would in some miraculous way make me a faster runner.
I remember that first afternoon track session well. A couple of runners gathered on the grass field, then we started with a 2.3km warm up (which almost killed me) followed by more warming up, and finally running around and around a grass track, ending off with another cool down on the same 2.3km warm up route (ok, this time I did die). After my first session, I remember asking the coach, “So this will make me fast, right?” I was so naive!
A year later, here’s what I’ve learnt about track training and coaching:
- The pace I run does not define me as a runner. *repeat*
- Even those running at 4 mins/km want to run faster. It’s a runner’s thing.
- There’s a difference between a quality run and an easy run. You need to do both.
- Nobody forces you to do anything. Progress is entirely in your hands.
- Injuries happen.
- When it comes to track, everyone is equal and gets treated the same way. Everyone does the same track session. Slow runner? Pffft, *suck it up Junkie*
- I’ve made the most incredible friends with some of the most extraordinary people from all walks of life. At track, we find that common bond.
- Track has taught me to put things into perspective. The lessons around consistency and discipline can be applied to all things in my life.
I guess the biggest thing I’ve gained is not just one coach, I’ve scored over 20 different coaches! Yes, so Dave is the main kahuna, but each person that I train with at track has made a difference to my running and taught me something in their own way.
It’s the odd word during the warm up about the best PB races; it’s the encouragement as each one of them laps me. It’s the tips offered about my running form & reminders not to slouch; it’s the books loaned to me; the caring Whatsapp messages, those that run that last lap with me and help me push my limits. It’s the LSD’s on Sunday, the jokes we share, the ones that look out for me at races and those who sacrifice their track session to pace me.
It’s been the most incredible year. I can truly say that track training with the Running Junkies has changed the way I think about running, changed the way I judge my pace and has made me understand what matters most about why I run. There’s so much more to love about running than my pace!
Since committing to training with a running coach just over a month ago, I’m already seeing certain benefits. If I promise to pitch up at training and work hard, he pretty much takes care of everything else. In a way, it’s actually a relief.
For starters, my coach decides on how much running I do in the week. It’s such a weight off my shoulders knowing that someone else is watching my mileage. For a change, I’m not stressing over not having run really long LSDs on a Sundays. And it’s okay just to do 5kms twice a week. It’s in his hands. He has a plan.
Another thing I’m learning is what he means by consistency. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality and learning to read my body.
Ironically, my coach is making sure I slow down a bit. *Wait a minute, I’m in this to speed up aren’t I?*. At the last track session, I felt strong. I’ve noticed that I’m doing a lot more running than walking. Just as he promised, I’m building that strong base foundation first. Speed work can only start once this is in place.
I must mention though that perhaps the biggest benefit is that I’ve learnt to run on grass! For me, the finish of any race is always the worst because it always feels like after running on the road, the grass on the field slows me down and sucks me in. Quite funny that where we train, the track is grass and it’s not that bad. Not that bad at all.
Whilst enjoying a breakfast with my girlfriends, I was listening how one of them explained how she goes about managing her team at work. She told us that she manages all of them very differently. Some thrive on praise, whilst others need to be pushed and challenged. She concluded that it’s about finding that ‘something’ that motivates them because not all of them respond in the same way. *good manager Mich*
The same can be said about the training techniques of running coaches. Lately, I’ve been exposed to two very different training techniques. The one coach drives me harder than I’ve ever been pushed in my life and has me setting goals that give me serious goosies. The other expresses concern about my love of running and tells me to slow down.
The training methods of these two trainers are so extreme that what it has taught me is that as in life, with running, there needs to be a balance.
You see, while I “get” what each of them is teaching me, I have settled for the middle ground. I’ve decided that while I like to be pushed hard and be motivated to believe that I am capable of so much more, I do understand that there is a time and place for everything.
Yes, so I do need to push myself and reach those running goals, but at the same time, if it causes me to stop enjoying running, those goals are empty. Pointless.
Thanks coach! Both of you….