Working with a coach

I’ve only been serious about running for just over two years now, which to me means more than a run every couple of weeks. I got into running after being inspired by the atmosphere surrounding the One Run For Boston, and then took it to the next level when I began running with November Project.

Since then, I’ve had two stress fractures and some severe hip, knee and ankle pains. After I failed to make it to the starting line of my first half marathon due to a stress fracture from over training, I decided it was time to start working with a coach.

I had considered using one of the traditional marathon training plans but decided with my injury history, that might still be taking a risk that could potentially cause me to miss another couple of months. Working with a coach allows for changes to happen to account for how you feel on a specific day or week, which is a flexibility a traditional running program does not allow for. This was probably the best part of working with a coach. If I was feeling particularly sore or in a little more pain than expected, Steven would adjust accordingly and give me tips on how to recover.

My coach says that his job is “to take the thinking out of running.” He tells me what to do, and I do it. I had never been too serious about running, yet I was still over training and hurting myself as a result. I didn’t know how to run intelligently, which was the main issue.

After recovering from my stress fracture, I began working with Steven Stam on building back up a base level. We eased into it to avoid re-injury. At times, I wanted to push myself further and run longer, but I had instructions on what exact distance to run from someone who was much more knowledgeable about what could happen.

For my marathon, Steven wrote me 3 different phases plus a base phase prior to getting started. This was about 20 weeks in total. Once we got a few weeks into it, training included a couple days of speed work, recovery runs, a hill repeat day (45 minutes worth) and a long run.

Like Jana, I don’t know that I would’ve pushed myself this hard (certainly not as intelligently) without Steven. I would often have questions about specific workouts/recovery time/interval times during the workout, and I would message Steven and he would respond quickly with exactly what I needed to know.

In April 2013 I ran 13.1 miles in exactly 2 hours. This was also the day I got my first stress fracture due to over training. 11 months later, I ran my first official half marathon (race) in 1:37. I had been working with Steven for a little over 3 months at this point, and there’s no doubt in my mind that the speed work he had me doing (plus the hills with NP… it was a VERY hilly course) attributed to a 23 minute PR.

I had another major PR as a result of the speed work/training with Steven. Last fall I ran a 23 minute 5k, which was my current PR. One day I had a 3 mile tempo run scheduled that I was feeling particularly good during, so I decided to extend it an additional .1 miles. I ended up with a 19:12 5k, nearly 3 minutes faster than just a few months earlier, which was before I started doing speed work.

July 2014 update: I ran the same race as the time I ran another 19:12 5k, and hit 18:55.

September 2014 update: ran the same race, hit 18:42.

October 2014 update: new half marathon PR by 9 minutes, 1:28:43

November 2014 update: PR’d 5k 3 times, at 18:12, 17:56 and then finally 17:42.

There’s absolutely no better feeling than seeing results from the hard work you put in.

Bottom line, if you’re looking to hit a specific time goal/qualify for Boston/stop getting injured (if that is a problem for you) I would 100% recommend working with a coach.

Interested in working with Steven? Tweet at him or message me and I’d be happy to make an intro.

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