Why I Became a Running Coach

For a while now I’ve been trying to decide what I want to do with my life. While I’m a marketer by education and trade, it is not something I’m necessarily passionate about. It is fun and I enjoy it but maybe there is something more for me. Make sense? Staying at home with the kids has given me the opportunity to think about other options. I considered looking into becoming a nutritionist or dietitian, but it always came back to running.

What made me decide running coach certification was for me? A few reasons.

  1. I remember well my first marathon. I was injured because I had no idea what I was doing. Even with the training plan provided to me, as a novice I was running too much, cross-training too little and adding mileage way too quickly. Not to throw my coach under the bus, but as an Ironman and a very seasoned endurance athlete, I think he forgot that newbies need hand holding. I certainly did. I want to help people feel confident and make it to the starting line (and hopefully the finish line) healthy.
  2. As I’ve made progress over the past eight years, I’ve had a lot of people ask me for advice, from training plans and paces to stretching and fueling. While I always offered up what works or has worked for me, I always felt slightly uncomfortable because what works for one runner, definitely does not work for all runners.
  3. Achieving a goal feels incredible. I want to help other people feel that satisfaction, that joy, of meeting or beating a goal.

My journey actually began last spring when I started looking into coaching certifications. For months I stocked the RRCA website looking for classes that were nearby and not sold out. After months of anxiously waiting, a class finally opened up for registration near me. I was so happy that I wasn’t going to have to fly across country or drive hours and hours.

I spent a weekend in August with about 20 other runners learning the ins and outs of how to coach. We covered topics from types of runners and their needs to nutrition and psychology of running, focusing primarily on distance runners. It was interesting and while some was a review for me, there was also a lot of new information. I took a ton of notes and a pretty substantial guide book. After the conclusion of class, we were sent a link to a 100 question online test.

The test took me a while because I wanted to make sure I was not just half-assing it and 100 questions is quite a few. If I was going to become a coach, I was going to do it well. After successfully passing my test and retaking First Aid/CPR certification classes, I’m was officially certified as a Level One RRCA Running Coach.

It’s taken me a while to put this out there. As excited as I am to help others, I’m also a little bit intimidated. Runners put a lot of trust in their coaches to get them to their goals and I certainly don’t want to let my runners down. Over the past several months I’ve been working with three runners behind the scenes. My first three clients were all very different which was fun and challenging. From wanting to get to the finish line to wanting to speed up and everything in between. So far they have had great success, which is exciting for them and for me!  In a post to follow I’ll share some information about them and what their coaching involved, what I’ve learned and hopefully include testimonials from each of them.

Eventually I’d like to offer a couple of standard half and full marathon training plans for both novice and experienced runners, in addition to working with clients for personalized plans depending on goals, fitness, etc. I have to figure out pricing and what each pricing level will include as far as in-person workouts, online/over the phone coaching or just here’s a plan, let me know how it goes. There is a lot to consider and figure out, but for now, here I am, open for business and ready to coach!

 

Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon {Race Recap}

It was 2 am. In a fog of Advil PM, I wasn’t sure if I had actually slept yet or just shut my eyes willing my body to go to sleep. For the second night in a row it looked as though I wasn’t going to be sleeping. I did know that the Wild Beaver Saloon was really loud outside of our hotel room window. I got up, closed the blinds and tried to get some rest. Still no luck by three when I turned down the temperature in our room. Finally sleep came for a whole two hours before my alarm went off at 5:30 am.

My mom, Rachel and I got up, ate and lounged around our room until around 7:25 when we met Kelly (my mom’s friend and one of my trainees) in the lobby. I was so tired and trying just to put on my tough runner face. We made our way to the starting line where we huddled together outside my corral to keep warm. With about 10 minutes to go until the start we all wished each other luck and parted ways.

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I found myself in a crowd of anxious runners. I chatted with a marathoner coming back from injury and was trying to qualify for Boston again. A few minutes later, our entire herd started walking to the starting line as we began our journey.

The first mile was a bit rough. I was happy that it forced me to start slowly, but it was frustrating just how packed it was. I saw the 3:20 marathon pacer, but decided I was not going to follow a pace group. I was going to run purely on feel. It was a good thing because he flew by me with a pretty good size group by the second mile. By the 5k point I had pretty much settled in.

Splits: 8:18, 7:40, 7:44

After the 5k mark, I was feeling pretty good. My lungs weren’t burning as expected due to that darn cold and though my legs felt really heavy, I was easily keeping a sub-8 pace. I was pretty surprised it was feeling so easy. That might be why the second three miles leading to the 10k point were some of my fastest during the entire race.

Splits: 7:38, 7:39, 7:38.

10k Official Time: 48:19

I was starting to think about taking a gel. I was watching people around me, including one man who flipped off house after house that had political signs he disagreed with. Classy. There were pockets of cheering squads and many beautiful homes. I knew the split for the marathon was coming up, so just past mile 7, I awkwardly fumbled with my fuel belt to get out a gel and water bottle. Not going to lie, because I hadn’t been taking gels during training (they are too dang expensive) I was a bit nervous my stomach would revolt. Luckily as I turned away from the full marathoners and finished my gel, there was no GDF rumbling in my stomach. Miles eight and nine are total blurs.

Splits: 7:40, 7:45, 7:43

The home stretch. I only had four miles left. I ran by a group offering Pabst Blue Ribbon and immediately thought that I would definitely vomit if I attempted to drink one. I wasn’t sure where the family was going to be, so I was scanning the increasing crowds for a friendly face. By mile 11 my legs felt like bricks. I was calculating in my head how much I could slow down and still PR. I figured I could slow down to a 9-10 min/mile and still be ok. If it wasn’t for a guy right at mile 12, yelling at me that he could tell I was contemplating slowing down, and not to do it, I probably would have slowed just because I was feeling lazy. I was mentally tired and the lack of sleep wasn’t helping either.

As we turned the final two corners of the race, I picked it up. When I saw the finish line, I did my best to sprint, to empty my tank as my Orangetheory coach would say. I crossed the finish line, feeling good, great actually. I had surprised myself once again.

Final Splits: 7:37, 7:43, 7:40, 7:29, and 6:25 for the last 0.2

Official time: 1:41:10          Average Pace: 7:44 min/mile

I did pretty well working my tangents, running only about a tenth of a mile longer than 13.1. I think my new post-Boston goal will be to run a sub-1:40 half marathon.

I was shocked at my overall results for the race. I finished in 698 out of 8116 finishers, 33 out of 732 in my division, and 178 out of 4796 in my gender. That put me in the top 8-9% of all the half marathon finishers and the top 3-5% of finishers in both my division and gender. Never thought that would happen.

My stepsister Rachel killed her first half coming in just under two hours. My mom did amazing coming in at 2:16 and Kelly set a new PR! I’m so proud of all of us.

This race was nice, well organized and a pretty flat one at that. I would consider doing the full at some point, but we will see. I have others on my bucket list when I’m ready.

 

Prepping for Boston Training

After years of hard work, this past year in particular, I’m on my way to Boston. I’m excited, nervous and every emotion in between. With about five weeks to go before training starts, it’s time to get my head and body back in the game. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do to make this training cycle really work for me.

  1. Step back from weekly mileage just enough not to be fatigued when training officially starts. I’m going to basically reverse taper from the half, slowly building so that my first week of training isn’t more than a 10% jump in weekly mileage.
  2. Finalize my training plan. There is always flexibility with my plans, but I want to at least have a good grasp on my what my training will look like and take into account any travel we might have planned.
  3. Get my diet in check. With no specific goals since my marathon back in May, my diet has been bad. Atrocious really. Burgers, yes. Desserts…you better believe it. Booze..why not? To run well, I need to fuel well.
  4. Kick up strength. I say this all the time but now I will have a breather with time to do it. Even if I only manage do to the 30 Day Shred, it’s something.
  5. Drop a few pounds. Refer to #2. While I’m still well within the healthy range for my height and age, I’m about 8-10 lbs heavier than my average adult weight. I’d like to get back down there and just see how it affects my running. I’d also be nice to fit back into some of my older clothes that are a big snug and not cringe when I see full body shots of myself.
  6. Hydrate. I’ve been so so bad about drinking enough fluids. I feel it.
  7. Get some sleep. My internal clock has been totally off. I’m not only staying up late, but waking up early, like 4 am early, for no reason. That, and the germs the kids bring home from school, may be why my immune system isn’t quite up to snuff.
  8. Enjoy the downtime. I’m planning on Boston being my last marathon for a little while. How long is a little while? I don’t know. These five weeks will be a nice time to breathe a little before training takes priority again.

 

Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon Training {Um what?}

I was pumped, half marathon training was going well. I looked forward to my shorter runs and was hitting my goal pace ranges. I was killing it. WAS being the key. From my previous post you’ve seen we’ve been busy. Life and fun have gotten in the way. All the sudden it is race week. I’m feeling under-trained, over tired and surprise, surprise, sick with a nasty cold that just won’t quit.

Lately my training has consisted of one speed workout, Orangetheory and then my long run. I tried to catch-up on missed workouts, which I would never recommend because yikes, my body was not happy with me. I just decided to do what I had time for and leave it at that. Because I’ve been consistently running double digit long runs for about a year, I know that I can cover the distance. It is highly unlikely it will be my best performance.

This race is more about time with my mom. We have been planning on doing this race for about a year now. To get my mom ready, I wrote her a training plan several months ago and she’s been training hard to do her first half marathon in more than a decade. I’m really proud of her and excited to cheer her through the finish shoot! I also wrote a training plan for one of her friends, who happens to make the best almond cake I’ve ever had, who will be running too. I’m accepting payment in the form of cake, because yum. Also because they are two of my first clients as an officially certified running coach. I’m really excited to see how they both do. I’ll report back on how we all do as part of my running coach posts I have in my drafts.

The kids and I are flying to Indy at the end of next week. While I was not originally intending on bringing them, they are really excited to see their Nana, Papa, Uncle Riley and Aunt Emma. It should be a fun weekend with way too much food and a little running mixed in.

 

Fall Friends and Family Fest

Spending time with old friends and family do wonders for the soul. We’ve been lucky enough to host and visit a slew of friends and family in the past month. We reminisced, laughed at how ‘old’ we’ve gotten and had fun just hanging around in sweats having a cocktail or two.

Our first guests of the fall were our friends Ryan and Claire. They’ve been friends of ours for about a decade now (what?!) and currently live in Rhode Island. Huge Colorado State fans, we planned their trip for a visit two years ago when the 2016 CSU football team announced a game at Minnesota. Needless to say we’d been looking forward to it for some time.

While not all of the fun things I had planned came to fruition thanks to crummy weather and most of us coming down with bad colds, we had a great time! Here are a few highlights.

 


A few days after they left, we drove to Omaha to celebrate my Great Uncle Dan’s 75th birthday. It was a mini-family reunion of sorts. Unfortunately my dad and stepmom were out of the country and my Walker siblings away at school, but it was so much fun having almost the entire family together. It was fun introducing my kids to extended family and just celebrating as we used to on holidays when I was growing up.

Once back home, we only had to wait a few more days for my sorority sister Kirsten and her husband Brandon to arrive. Kirsten rocked the Medtronic Twin Cities 10 Miler! It was definitely fun to be a spectator for once. Ella and I also ran the Family Mile. She finished it in 12 minutes which I’m pretty sure is faster than I ran my first mile!

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We had better luck with babysitters and were out and about all weekend.

Ah, it was a like a breathe of fresh air being with them. I definitely ate and drank too much and ran too little, but I wouldn’t trade a moment of it.

Just this past weekend we also were treated to a visit from Josh’s parents. We enjoyed a nice dinner, took in a show at the Guthrie Theater and went on a train ride with the entire family. It was another great weekend.

Next weekend, it’s off to Indianapolis for the Monumental Half. I’ll have to write a little update on how training has shaped up. It’s been quite a ride these past several weeks. Can’t wait for more visitors, even if it isn’t until we thaw in the spring!