>> Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Sunday is the TC 10 Miler. It's the reason Jen took me on as a client. After Sunday, I'm no longer going to be working with Jen. I thought I'd take this taper time to put together a list of Pros and Cons of the different things I've come to realize over the last 8 weeks of being coached.
Pro: You don't have to think about your workouts; you just DO them. Julia (and other friends who are coached) have been telling me about this "pro" for years. Normally, when I'm not being coached, I try to plan out my weeks well ahead of time. "OK, this is a 'build' week, this is a 'run heavy' week, and this week I'll scale back a little because I'm racing on the weekend." Then I'll fill in the days of the week. Monday: this. Tuesday: this: Wednesday: this. Etc. But since I've been working with Jen, I just check my training schedule at night, wake up in the morning, and do what she's said. No fuss.
Con: You might want to NOT swim / bike / run today. When I agreed to have Jen coach me for 8 weeks, I agreed to follow her orders to the T. It's NOT like that for her "normal" clients; she's cutting me a SUPER deal, and I wanted to make sure that I lived up to my end of the bargain. So I did NOT SHIFT A THING. (I only missed 2 workouts over these entire 8 weeks, and that was an easy[ish] swim and a super easy spin on the bike that were scheduled for the weekend Pharmie and I were out at Rev3 Cedar Point. I let Jen know about this ahead of time, and she said they weren't vital workouts, so it wasn't a big deal. I DID make sure to fit in my long run that weekend.) I think my point here is you CAN miss or shift around workouts, but you might start to feel a little guilty about it. "Oh, it was raining today, so I didn't want to bike, so I did tomorrow's run workout instead." Sure, that's fine, but I feel like Jen had SUCH a plan for me, that I didn't want to shift a single thing around. I think I'm making this a bigger deal than it really is...
Pro: Your "old routine" will be nicely broken up. I was a runner for 2 years in high school, but then I didn't do much for 8 years. And I've only been doing this swim, bike, run thing since 2006, so it hasn't been THAT long. But I'm already deep into my own routine. A coach can break you of that and show you some new ways of training. I'm not saying your old routine is wrong, but I DO think that everyone's routine could use a nice "stir" now and then. Being coached is a GREAT way to break through a plateau.
Con: You might like your old routine. I've missed running intervals (on the track) while working with Jen. (But I haven't mentioned this to her - if I REALLY missed intervals, I bet she could have worked more into the plan.) I planned on doing intervals the Friday before starting with Jen (see below), and in the 8 weeks we've worked together, I think I've done them once. (BUT she had me not do as many because I could benefit more from tempo runs instead.) I also haven't done long, hard efforts the way I usually do. And I DO kind of miss some of that.
Pro: You'll learn a lot more about your training / body / pace. I have 2 examples for this:
Example #1: Usually, after HARD workouts or races, I take a day (or 2) off. I don't really know why - it's just felt right. Jen has had me do easy spinning or easy running after HARD days. I'd never do that on my own. A few weeks ago, my heel really flared up on one of those easy days. (I never injured myself working with Jen, but we flirted with that "line" for most of the 8 weeks to push myself as much as possible.) I realized that I usually don't hurt myself on long runs, but instead it's AFTER those long / hard efforts when my body isn't fully recovered that I hurt myself. This might sound dumb to you, but it was a pretty great revelation to me. I thought back, and it all made sense: when I first injured my heel 2.5 years ago, it was on a short run that SHOULDN'T have hurt it. But that short run was 2 days after a hard 18 miler. I would have never discovered this about my body had Jen not been telling me what to do.
Example #2: The Friday before I started being "officially" coached by Jen, she told me to run 4x1600 on the track with descending times with more rest than I was used to in between intervals (4:00). She said to start around 5:40, and drop to under 5:20. She noted: "...IF doable..that may be a tad of a stretch, but probably not." I'd NEVER had an interval under 5:20, let alone my FOURTH interval (I usually just do 3x1600). Well, I did 5:40, 5:34, 5:25, and 5:18. How was I able to get that 4th interval under 5:20? I hit 5:18 because I was told to. Simple. As. That. No one ever TOLD me to go run a 5:20 interval before, so I never considered it an option.
Con: If you're aiming for a big goal, you WILL be pushed. Is this really a con? Of course you will be pushed, but this is the closest to a con I can think of to counteract the pro of learning more about your body / training.
Pro: I find myself pushing myself harder on my coached workouts. When I build my OWN workout plan, I catch myself always thinking about the next day. "Oh, don't overdo it on the bike today because you're planning that HARD run for tomorrow." I always end up with a lot of 85%-90% efforts when I'm hoping for an "all out" workout. But for some reason, when doing Jen's workouts, I'm ONLY thinking about this workout. If she says "HARD" or "ALL OUT" or "FINISH CRAWLING" (which she has said before), that's what I do. I can't explain this one, but I KNOW it's happening like this.
Con: There's no con for the pro above. If you stick to the plan and don't over-extend yourself and get injured, then there is no con to pushing hard. If you follow the plan from a coach that knows what he/she is talking about, you'll be golden.
Pro: I love Jen.
Con: Coaching costs money, even if you've professed your love to your coach. Because I'm
Pro: You'll get workout ideas for AFTER your time being coached is over. I mean, of course. I'll probably be training for a half marathon this winter or spring, and I KNOW I'll think back to some of the longer, harder workouts Jen has had me do. I'll add a few miles on, and suddenly I have a workout plan that might help me out for that race. She's given me lots of great ideas for how to "mix up" my training even though I've only been with her for 8 weeks.
Con: You can't workout "blind." You need to try to understand why your coach is having you do the things that you're doing. This really isn't a "con," but more of a "warning." Doing the workouts as prescribed is one thing, but (for me at least) UNDERSTANDING them makes a big difference. I always tried to figure out "why" as I was doing it. I feel like if I didn't, I'd be done with Jen this next week and I'd have no idea where to go from here.
- Jen was ALWAYS open for questions or clarification. I've been working with her for 8 weeks, and I have nearly 150 emails in my "Jen Harrison" folder in my inbox. Most of those didn't start from her - most of those were HER answers to MY questions OR her e-mails with feedback after I had logged my workouts.
- Before being coached, I always leaned towards "over-training." Every workout was usually 85% effort or harder. With Jen, she's got me running FASTER than I ever have been, but she's also got me running SLOWER than I usually train. (And I've heard a TON of people mention this when they first start working with a coach.) Normally, I'm at 7s or faster ALL THE TIME. Some of Jen's warm-ups or cool-downs have been 8-9 minute miles. Proper training involves some slower running (or so I'm learning).
- After working with Jen, I'll go back to SOME of my old ways of training, but I know I'll shift a lot of what I've done in the past to match with what Jen had me doing. I think I'll (dare I say it) WARM UP MORE in my regular workouts once I'm not one of Jen's babies anymore. ;)
DID I MISS ANYTHING? Do you work with a coach? Is there a PRO or CON that you can think of that's not on this list? Comment and let me know! You can check out more on Jen by going to her site, and if you missed it a few weeks ago, click here to see a "guest post" that Jen wrote about finding a good coach.
p.s. I sent this to Jen yesterday as I was working on it. I wanted to get her input (to add to this post if she wanted to) before I published it. Here's part of what she said: "...I think the only thing I would mention is that communication is key - that you MADE SURE you were on the same page with me and I was on the same page with your heel, with your travel - etc.....and a good coach (Not just me) will be responsive to that and adapt and be quick about it."
p.p.s. As Coach Jen told me to do in the last post Here's today's "reason I will PR" for the 10 miler: "You are a MUCH smarter racer than you were last year." Last year, when you ran it in 1:02:43, that was your FIRST 10 mile race. And you had only done 2 half marathons at that point as well. Since then, you've done 2 more 10 milers and 2 more half marathons. You're not the same person.