A few months ago a friend asked me about my training and how I was able to meet (and exceed) race goals and if I had any help from a coach. After thinking about it, I decided that I had many thoughts around the topic and wanted to share it in a post.
First off, I have never used a running coach, it is just not for me but I have nothing against them. At one point in time, I looked into the certification but again realized it was not something for me. But what I can share is how I have been able to train to meet my own running goals mainly on my own.
1- Be your own biggest fan. Have confidence! Running is SO mental you guys. If you do not have the confidence that you can meet your goal you probably will not meet it. Blunt but true. Be positive, but realistic at the same time. Do not go into your first half marathon thinking you can run it in 90 minutes 😉 I cannot stress this enough. I have never gone into a training plan (or race) thinking I MIGHT meet my goal. I go in knowing I will crush it.
2 – Set realistic goals. Like I said above goals are only attainable if they are realistic. You can also be more confident with realistic goals. This is not to say you should not push yourself but instead just have realistic goals and over a period of time work to improve and do better.
My first half marathon I went in with a fairly conservative goal of a sub 2-hour race since it was my first race over 10km and I had really just started to run. I came in 2 minutes under my goal time and was thrilled. My next half marathon that was 3 months later I had a goal of 1:55, so only 3 minutes off of my previous time. I was being realistic, but still confident that I COULD do better. I came in at 1:48 for that race.
Giving myself realistic goals that I am confident in has taken me a long way in my running experience, much more than anything physical that I could have done.
3 – Use your FREE resources. The Internet can be a magical thing! From other blogs to online sites there are so many resources you can access at no charge. I have a few favourites that I frequently use.
Runner’s World – some training plans do cost, but for a minimal fee
Hal Higdon – I have used these plans a few times!
4 – Join a running/training group. This does not need to be a formal group, it could be a group of people who like to run. Having a training group for my first half and first full was very beneficial and for a minimal fee. I think I paid $50 for 4.5 months and they provided us with a training plan. But more than the training plan it was the group of people that made benefited me. The support, the accountability and the sense of community all benefited me.
5 – Schedule in non-running and rest days. First of all, can we just agree that our bodies need 1-2 days of rest a week. These can be active rest days, but they are days where your body and mind recover. Second, running is not all about just getting in “x” of kms a week. It is about preparing your body for the race. This involved improving your cardio, strength, and flexibility. Be a well rounded runner!
From experience I can say running 6 days a week did me NO good. It was the only time I had a running injury and was drained mentally and physically.
In your training plan run 3-4 days a week and then add in other cardio, strength training and I always recommend yoga now too. I prefer 3 days of running, one long run, one speed run (fairly short) and one other run. On the speed run day I would do strength exercises, have another day of other cardio and strength and then yoga. Not to say this is for everyone but that is my general rule when it comes to a training plan.
Everyone is different, and everyone’s needs are different so at the end of the day you do what is right for YOU. If that is hiring a coach, great, if not, great too 🙂 Like anything there is never a one size fits all solution.