Friends, it has been a long time since I have written a blog post! After Boston, I took a break from stepping on a starting line after running several races in a short amount of time. I knew in May, I would start another marathon training cycle, and finally worked on my FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), which is NOT easy. This July, a new 8 hour endurance run directed by 2 local fabulous females was created and as much as I wanted to enter, I knew jumping on the start line was a bad idea for several reasons based on my goals. I’ve enjoyed the races from the perspective of a volunteer this summer and I believe this has helped me stay focused on race day (and healthy!).
A year ago, I ran the Erie Marathon as an attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon. A few years ago, running a marathon alone was a dream, and not until I met my tribe did I even feel Boston was a possibility. 2017 Erie will always hold a special place in my heart for so many reasons – it’s the first marathon I asked someone to coach me, I was blessed to train with several running friends over a hot summer, Mario traveled to run with me and friends drove 5 hours one way just to surprise me on the course. And, in the end, I got my BQ: 3:25:24!
Here I am, 1 year later, headed north to run the Erie Marathon once again. This time, we have a small group (including my husband!) striving for PRs, trying to improve their Boston qualifying times or chasing the unicorn for the first time. Race day isn’t quite here yet, but the 2018 Erie Marathon experience has already proved to be just as memorable for me. Jeremy gave me the opportunity to help create the group training plan and a number of us have been able to meet before dawn at least twice a week to train together. Through social events as well as our runs, we have grown closer as friends. The positive attitudes are contagious and being part of a group training for a common goal is inspiring and motivating. We’ve shared both successes and struggles with one another since we began this journey in May. I am very excited to see how race day goes for each of us! Sad to tell you no runner tracking is available, so you’ll need to wait until we have reception to post results. Although it is sad to see our training cycle come to an end, I feel once we cross the finish line this bunch will not dissolve – I see many more early morning runs from Dunkin Donuts in the future!
Since I already acquired a BQ time earlier this year (Shamrock and Boston), I am chasing my marathon PR which was set at Erie last year. I feel I’ve learned something new each time I’ve run a marathon and I’m hoping I can pull it all together for #5 and execute better. Let’s see what happens! 🙂
What comes next is still mulling around in my mind. After doing a little bit of everything since I returned to the racing scene, I feel my heart is calling me in a certain direction. I have some big decisions to make in the near future and I can’t wait to share what’s next!
“You must go on adventures to find where you truly belong.”
Like any other distance, 50 miles begins with a single step. You put one foot in front of the other, mile after mile. Just as I imagined, the JFK 50 was an amazing adventure full of many steps.
Where to begin? Even on Friday night, I was in disbelief I’d be attempting to run 50 miles the next day. Mario planned on sleeping at our house and riding with us to the race, so I made a pasta dinner for all of us. I set out my race outfit, a couple pairs of shoes, change of clothes and fuel yet still felt I wasn’t prepared. Falling asleep took awhile as I was anticipating the 3:30 a.m. wake up call.
We left our house at 4:15 a.m. for the trek to Boonsboro, MD. Packet pickup was quick and easy and a small group of runners were already scattered across the gym. Soon after, we found Jeremy then Josh and Sara. After a couple last minute trips to the port-a-potties, it was time for pre-race instructions. The director asked runners who had run multiple JFKs at certain finishing times to stand up. Seeing the JFK 50 veterans was inspiring – especially those with bib numbers less than 100 (meaning elite athletes or multiple JFK50 finishes). As soon as instructions were complete, everyone headed outside for the 5-10 minute walk to the starting line.
Walking to the start, everyone enjoyed light conversation and seemed very calm. I had just a few minutes to take off my warm ups, then the 4 of us headed to join the runners – Mario and Jeremy went up near the front and Sara and I hung back. I began retying one of my trail shoes and then BANG! It was time to go. We started running through downtown Boonsboro for the 2.5 mile uphill journey to the Appalachian Trail.
Sara and I ran for about 1.5 miles before we hit the long, winding uphill where we decided to power walk. We climbed and climbed until we saw familiar territory, the parking lot where we began several training runs. We were happy to hit the first timing checkpoint and start on the trail. Right away, we were laughing. If you read our training post, you’ll remember the numerous times we thought we were off course. The 2nd training run we thought we went the wrong way to “tent city”. As soon as we were directed on the trail, guess where we were headed? Right towards the tents! We were right all along and had no idea. Quickly, we accessed the actual trails and started the AT section.
All of our training runs, we were pretty much the only humans on the trails. Race day was a little different – was a little tougher to plan foot placement when someone was running right in front of you. We chatted about our week as we fell into line with the others. Soon, another laughing moment. I believe I mentioned in our training blog post about our first time trying to run the course and running up the long road; trying to access directions via Facebook and finding the trail by the communication tower. On our next attempt, we thought we found the actual trail/course. Well, Saturday we found out we were supposed to go up the road! The road seems very long and is quite an incline so we ended up speed walking for most of the climb. Much more boring than the trail close by, but definitely easier to traverse than the steep, rocky path.
Once we reached the fenced area, we were back on the Appalachian Trail and on a familiar route. The path becomes rockier and some runners were having a little trouble with this more technical part of the course. We enjoyed running the trail until…BOOM! One rock reached up, grabbed Sara and down she went with a spectacular roll! Thankfully no injuries, right back up, walked it off and we continued along the way.
Soon we were at the 1st aid station at Gathland State Park. A girl commented on my pink hair as we ran through the tunnel of volunteers. We took a quick walk up the pavement before getting back on the trail. About ¾ of the way through the 2nd part of the trail, a light rain began to fall. We navigated the trail chitchatting with other runners and began the descent to Weverton Cliffs. 15 miles down! As we came off the trail, we quickly spotted John and Josh, changed out of our trail shoes, refilled our water bottles and hopped back on course. John and Josh told us we were only 20 minutes behind Jeremy and Mario. Wow! About .5 mile away, we were able to see Vern and Lisa as well as visit the 2nd aid station. I grabbed PB&J and a banana before we began the 2nd section of the day – 26 miles on the C&O.
Going from climbing on trails to running on a flat surface was a big change. Immediately, Sara and I started to keep each other in check when we saw our splits in the 8s. On this part of the course, we created a comfortable pattern. Thank goodness for aid stations every 2-5 miles; otherwise the towpath would have seemed a lot longer! As we reached each aid station, we would grab whatever fuel we needed and then walk a bit to eat and drink. Then, we’d start up the engine again which at times was difficult. I joked I needed an oil can to get the joints moving again. After a few minutes of running, it always felt much easier and we would be plugging away at 9-9:30 pace. Usually when we were in need of a break, another aid station would appear and we would start the cycle all over again.
We leapfrogged the same runners over and over again on the towpath. We met Justin from NC who is being deployed to Iraq in December, Andrew from NOVA and Geoffrey from Albuquerque. We would chat about where we were all from, our families, our jobs and offer words of encouragement. Everyone was so friendly cheering us on. Andrew told us we were doing great for our first 50 and mentioned if we kept up the pace, we’d be around 8:45. WHAT! I hadn’t even tried to calculate what our finishing time would be – we were just focusing on finishing and not being out on the course in the dark. A 9 hour finish? Wow.
The rain continued which made the path muddy and slick, especially with the leaf cover. I knew we both began to feel a little tired but mentally, we never wavered. Often, we’d run a few steps apart, always within talking distance. Although the majority of the time we were not talking, knowing a friend was near you was always comforting. We were able to see our crew again before 30 miles. Just refills on water, a few words and an update on our teammates – again, just about 30 minutes ahead. Glad to hear they were doing well. I think around this time, Sara mentioned one of the runners ahead was one of the JFK 50 veterans who usually finishes in 9:30. Soon after, we caught up and passed him.
We’d chat and joke with the volunteers at the aid stations, thanking them for their help. Usually, I am a sweet tooth kind of a girl, but this time I craved the salty items. Chips and pretzels were my go-to although I did grab a pretty cookie and M&Ms. Having warm soup or broth at several stops was wonderful since the rain did make us a little chilly.
Just before mile 40, we were able to see our crew one last time. We were still smiling and in good spirits although the miles were starting to take their toll. I commented to Sara how amazing it was to still be dropping low 9 minute miles. Only 10 more to go! We were so ready to get to the road portion, and just had a couple more miles on the towpath. One of the last stations was Christmas-themed, complete with Santa Claus and Christmas cookies, yum! Not much longer and we were onto the 3rd part, road for about 8.5 miles.
At this point, we realized our watches were off the official race miles which was frustrating since my watch said we were 1 mile further. I had stopped awhile back looking at the total miles and just focusing on our per mile pace. We ate our fuel and started on the pavement. As soon as we came off the C&O, a hill awaited. One resident was kind enough to be offering beer to help dull the pain of the incline. A few runners veered over to join him; we did not. As we reached the crest, we decided to try to run again. A little rusty, but soon we were moving. Although it was nice to be out of the muddy path, running on hard asphalt was a bit jarring.
We continued along the country road, stopping a few times when we’d reach inclines for a short walk. Then, we’d start it up again. Seeing the mile markers alongside the road was very exciting – 8, 7, 6…. We were so close! I looked at my watch to see what our overall time was and was surprised to see we had been out for 8 hours and 11 minutes. Really? It didn’t seem like that long. Is it crazy to say I started to feel a little sad the end was near?
Honestly, my muscles didn’t feel that awful until mile 45. My calves were feeling a little tight and my upper back was aching a bit but I kept trying to drop my shoulders to stay loose. I certainly felt like I had been running for hours, but not as bad as I expected.
Just before the mile 4-to-go marker, we ran into a woman we had met in the beginning of the race. My eyes went wide as I saw trails of blood running down both legs. Beast! She must have taken a spill back along the trails.
A couple more twists and turns and we approached the last aid station. 1.5 MILES TO GO! Wow! It was hard to believe our adventure was nearly over. We kept moving forward, knowing with each step we’d be seeing our family, friends and teammates soon. As we ran up one last hill, I heard a crowd ahead. I lifted up my eyes and saw the finish line! Since we didn’t see a 1 mile to go marker, this was an exciting and unexpected sight. I turned around and said, “Sara!?” She said, “Is that the finish?!” YES!!
We were so excited – we both threw our water bottles to Mario (thank you!) and with BIG smiles, we crossed that finish line (with a cartwheel and raised arms) in 9:09:57! Our primary goal was to finish and the expected finish time we had registered with: 10 hours. We were in disbelief we finished just over 9 hours for our first 50 miler. We were reunited with our group with hugs and all immediately headed inside to warm up. A smorgasbord of food awaited us and we noshed while chatting with the guys about their race.
I am an ultramarathoner!
A couple days have passed and we are still on cloud 9. My body had a couple aches and pains, but nothing near what I imagined. I think the year of training, both running and strength workouts completely prepared my body for the challenge. It will take awhile to fully sink in what we accomplished.
Thank you to John, Josh, Vern, Lisa, Laura and Andrew for being at the aid stations to give us whatever was needed – water, fuel and most importantly, words of encouragement. Seeing friendly faces at those points really kept us moving. Thanks to Mario and Jeremy for the votes of confidence and for believing in us. Thanks to all of you for following us and cheering us on! Last, but certainly not least, thank you to Sara. Thank you for agreeing to tackle this challenge, being beside me during training runs and my partner for 50 miles of fun. I’ll never forget my first ultra. Love ya girl!
Finishing the JFK 50 means I have now checked all the boxes for my 2017 goals. What’s next? Stay tuned…
“Believe in yourself, push your limits, experience life, conquer your goals and be happy.”
One more race recap and then we will get back to our regular programming!
Two weeks post Shamrock Half and I was ready to rock again. On my radar this time was the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in Washington, DC.
The entire weekend was quite an adventure! Before we get to starting line, let’s start on the day prior when I headed to the nation’s capital with several members of Team Running Dad.
We traveled down Rt 66 to catch the metro to pick up our packets at the race expo at the National Building Museum. The trip wasn’t too bad – as a bunch of folks from the mountains, we didn’t have too much trouble trying to navigate our way through public transportation. Upon our arrival, we decided to get our packets first then find lunch (although we had a few hangry guys!).
Packet pickup was very easy and we browsed the expo booths. Vendors were most we
see often at other races, but we saw our fearless SVR leader Vernon at the Ragnar tent. After a quick spin through the booths, we headed towards Gallery Place in search of nourishment.
Eventually, we found our way to food but unfortunately, we waited FOREVER for our orders. As we sat at the bar, we pilfered celery meant for Bloody Marys to satisfy our appetites. After what seemed like a very long time, we finally received (almost) all of our food (poor Josh). On the ride home, we acted a little less mature than our age – but some funny memories were definitely made.
We finalized our plans for race day, which included a VERY early a.m. departure (next year, not so early). As is common for me these days, I woke before my alarm and started to get ready. Today, I was racing for the first time in a Team Running Dad race kit. Prior
to the race, the team as a whole decided to wear pink shorts (yes, even the guys) in honor of NICU babies and for Alohi, the recent preemie granddaughter of teammate Mario. To complete the outfit, I also slapped on a RunningDad.com temporary tattoo once again.
Having to travel so far race morning, I did have a little anxiety about traffic and other logistics, but once again, the ride was smooth sailing. We arrived early (way too early), but found our parking spot and broke bread together in the car (thanks for the bread Josh!). After eating our breakfast, we went off on foot in search for the starting line as well as port ‘o pots.
The starting line of CUCB10 is right at the Washington Monument. We waited a little while in the chilly darkness in the bag check tent (until we got kicked out). As we went on our warm-up run around the reflecting pool, the sun was rising behind the Washington Monument. Wow, what a beautiful sight.
Not too long after, we headed to our respective corrals – the guys and I hugged Sara while she went into the red corral and we entered yellow. Once we were in, it suddenly seemed like a family reunion as other runners from back home found us. After hellos, high fives and final pre-race instructions from the starter, we were off!
My goal for the race was 1:05, which would be pushing my pace a little more than I was comfortable, but I set off for a 6:30 pace with teammate Alex and another running friend Duane. First mile wasn’t as crowded as I anticipated and went by rather quick – nearly on the dot at 6:31. The race course included three out-and-back sections where we could see and cheer each other on before heading to the lonely back half of the course. I picked up the pace as we headed towards the first out-and-back where I was hoping to see Mario and Jeremy. Each time, we either sent a thumbs up, an air fist bump or shouted some encouragement – thanks guys!
In the first half, I felt like I was having a tough time settling in at my goal pace. Miles kept ticking by a little faster than I was aiming for, but I was feeling strong. Around mile 6, I heard someone say my name and pass by – fellow Terrapin XC/Track alumni Jay (who is also seeking a BQ in 2017!). I kept him in my sights and kept chugging ahead. When I felt as though I was struggling or tense, I did sneak a peek over to the water and try to take in the sights of DC.
Around mile 9, I could feel fatigue entering my leg muscles, but kept charging on. Unexpectedly, another Maryland XC/Track alumni was around this section and gave me a little boost of much-needed energy. At this point, I could see the Washington Monument and knew the finish was near. I loved the signs counting down the distance to the finish (1 mile, 1200, 800, 400…). At the end, there is a slight incline and I reminded myself to give the same effort and tackle the last challenge. Heading up the hill, I noticed an older woman running right in front of me and I thought, wow, look at her! I was so focused on getting to the line and passed her without much of a glance. I didn’t realize until after the race, it was Joan Benoit Samuelson! Wow, so cool.
Heading towards the finish, I gave whatever I had left and crossed the line in 1:03:50. Goal achieved! Now to find my teammates which didn’t take long since they were still in the chute. And once again, I was ecstatic to hear Jeremy and Mario had PRs as well. We waited near the finish for Alex and Sara who also had great races – way to kick butt
2017 marked the 45th year of CUCB10. To celebrate, anyone beating the winning male and female times from 1973 received a mug stating, “I would have won this race in 1973!”.
After everyone was reunited, we linked up with a few other running friends, went back to the car to freshen up and find food (we eat a lot!). After a scenic route to the restaurant (sorry!!), we enjoyed a great Irish brunch and drinks!
Overall, another solid weekend. What a great crew – everyone is supportive and our collective positive energy makes each of us strive to be better. We are all looking forward to the next time we race together, but for now, we are anxiously awaiting to see what Mario, Jeremy and Alex do in Boston.
Thanks to Josh and John for driving and supporting the team over the weekend. We all appreciated you being there.
One year ago today, I reached my original weight loss goal after 11 months of creating a lifestyle change.
Looking back, I wrote:
“338 days ago, the life I had been living for 15 years changed. For the better.
I can now be proud to tell you I was a competitive runner from 7th grade through college. I can tell you my career was in corporate fitness and I helped open the Valley Health Wellness & Fitness Center.
Before, I would definitely shy away from discussing my athletic accomplishments and educational background. Growing up in PA, friends in Winchester weren’t fully aware of my athletic background, and for that I was glad. I would be slightly embarrassed to tell them I once ran a 5:04 mile; that I still hold a couple district records and a state record. When the discussion would arise, I would say, “I know it’s hard to tell by the way I look now”. I was ashamed to tell people that I also had a degree in exercise science. I could just imagine them thinking, “she obviously doesn’t practice what she preaches”.
How did I go from a Division I athlete to a sedentary lifestyle? Life. A year after college graduation, I met my husband along with his two children (who lived with us) and soon after, we added a third child. My husband traveled a lot with work. My priorities shifted. I would say I didn’t have the time to exercise. With two active children and a toddler, we were always on the go and didn’t always eat the best food. The weight packed on.
During perhaps the busiest time of my life – being a wife, a mother, working full-time starting up a local business and running my own business – I am unsure of the catalyst – but I decided it was time to make a change.
I had started to eat healthier (or so I thought). I just happened to attend a business luncheon and saw Jacqueline Shoemaker, owner of Winchester Weight Loss. I shared with her that I was starting to eat healthier, but wasn’t really losing. She said three little words – drop. the. carbs. My exact words back to her were, “I can do anything but that! I love carbs!”. However, I decided I had nothing to lose (but pounds!) and I would at least try.
Concurrently, I attempted running again. It was painful and disappointing. I could barely make a half mile, let alone a mile. I would struggle, but kept putting one foot in front of another, alternating walking and running. Each day, I promised myself at least 30 minutes of time to exercise.
Here I am, nearly 1 year later. I am 60 lbs. lighter. I just finished my first half marathon. I am teaching fitness classes and leading a kids running club. I am not ashamed to talk about my past.
I tell you this not because I want to boast. I want you to hear about someone that may be just like you. I want you to know you can do this. Make yourself a priority. Invest in your health.
Know the journey may be frustrating. The numbers on the scale will go up and down; you may not be able to run a mile or finish an exercise class. Stick with it.
After the half marathon, I told my husband this race was most likely the one I was most proud of finishing. When I was young, it was easy to run; easy to find the time and I didn’t have “adult” stress. Sunday, I didn’t win the race or even my age group. BUT – this medal represented a year long journey of finding me again.”
Over the last year, I have lost an additional 10 lbs and am hoping to maintain my current weight. Once again, I can say I am a competitive runner (and am LOVING it!). Training with friends, racing and setting new personal records has reignited my passion for running. Helping friends and family reach theirgoals has made my heart feel full. I am happy.
I feel like ME.
Every now and then, it’s nice to look back and see how far you’ve come.
Staying motivated to run in the winter can be challenging. During the warmer months, there is a plethora of races to train for, but once the frigid air descends, chances to race may be far and few between.
Luckily, Shenandoah Valley Runners offers an 8 race winter series from December to March to help runners stay on top of their game and also have fun. Each race, runners earn points relevant to their place. The two lowest scoring races are tossed and scores are added up. Awards are given at the end of the series instead of individual races.
Out of the eight races, all but one were 5Ks. Some races had themes – one was a 2-person team event, one was a poker run and in another runners were encouraged to support their favorite basketball team for March Madness. In addition to runners just racing, tangible and monetary donations were accepted each race for a variety of local non-profit groups. Love the giving back aspect.
For being a winter event, we were lucky enough to have fair weather for most races and only one needed to be canceled due to ice. Otherwise, nearly 300 runners toed the line almost every 2 weeks to attempt to maintain or increase their running fitness.
I greatly enjoyed my first Winter Series – hit a few PRs, met new friends and loved the camaraderie between my fellow harriers. We united in laughter and in fatigue; supporting one another through each race.
Overall Female: 2nd Place
Female 35-39: 1st Place
Best 5K: 19:11
Thank you to all of the organizers who worked hard to execute each race and to the volunteers and spectators who braved the elements to help us crazy runners.
Although I am thankful for spring to be upon us, I definitely have one reason to look forward to this December and the bleak winter months!
Earlier this week, I talked about hiring a coach to help achieve my 2017 goals. Some of you may know I do a little coaching myself. A little over a month from now, I will begin my 3rd season as a kids running club coach. Last year, I had no intentions of becoming a coach but a friend saw the job posting and tagged me on social media. At first, anxiety set in and I felt unsure I was cut out for the job. After a series of emails to the supervisor, I decided to go for it – not knowing I would have 30 kids the first time around!
Thank goodness for parents who helped run along with us – trying to corral 20-30 kids ages 7-14 is not the easiest task. My goal for the 1st season was to provide a variety of running workouts in a fun way and just get kids moving. We ran hill and track workouts, did running drills/stretches and of course, played a lot too. Throughout the season, I also tried to provide a little education about nutrition, hydration and other running tips. Although at first, I was unsure I would enjoy coaching youngsters, I really enjoyed the session and continued for the fall as well.
So, why do I coach? Honestly, I will tell you it is not to create future Olympians. I want these kids to find their love for running. Running is a lifetime sport and I want to help spark a passion and hopefully they will continue running for a long time. From previous experience as a highly competitive runner from age 11-21; running and competing all year round is tough. Eventually, the time will come for them to compete (if they chose to do so); but for now, I want them to just have fun.
Besides the fun, I want to help them develop discipline, a strong work ethic, leadership skills and encourage them to create and strive towards personal goals. We do run a timed mile in the beginning and end of each season. After the 1st mile, I encourage each child to set an achievable goal to reach at the end – if we hit that goal prior to the end, we update our goal.
We also work on teamwork and supporting one another. As runners know, hill workouts are tough. At running club, we often make our hill workout a team relay. Of course, the kids become competitive with the other team, but they are all so supportive for everyone. This session tends to be the loudest and craziest of our workouts. Each time we do this workout, my heart swells watching them cheer on each other.
At the end of each practice, we play a variety of running games – different types of tag, cones up/cones down, cops & robbers, etc. but at the very last practice, we spend the entire practice doing a running scavenger hunt. I’ve never seen kids run so fast to get to the end! The smiles I see and the laughter I hear each practice is well worth my time.
Why do my kids run? I asked a few what is it about running they love?
J.S. – “I like running because running is exercise and I like exercise. What I like most about running is being able to be outdoors and be with my friends and you can do run just about anywhere.”
E.K. – “Running makes me happy. I like to be able to run somewhere because Mommy doesn’t like it when I run in the house.”
E.S. – “Running makes me feel happy and confident. I like running with friends and sprinting.”
L.H. – “Running makes me feel good and refreshed. I like running with my friends it makes me happy.”
D.M. – “Running makes me feel happy. I have fun getting personal bests and running with my family.”
A.D. & R.D. – “Running makes me feel good, exercised, stronger and free.” “I like running; it makes me feel good and tired.”
All of these kids were asked the question by their parents separately and all of the kids are 10 and under. Sense a common theme? Just listening to their answers makes me very excited to start another season of running club.
If your child is interested, please check out http://www.co.frederick.va.us/departments/o-z/parks-recreation/youth-programs/community-recreation-youth – I coach the Sherando session on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Today, I ask of you – how does running make YOU feel?
Although once a seasoned and competitive runner, returning to running after 1.5 decades was intimidating. When I was younger, I regretfully never kept a running log of workouts, which would have been great to help create a skeleton training plan. Now, older and out of shape, I had many worries. How do I start? How much is too much? Am I going to get hurt?After researching online, I decided to start with a popular couch to 5K run/walk program which definitely helped me as a beginner.
Prior to training for a full marathon, I Googled the heck out of marathon plans. Let me tell you, there are a LOT of sources to choose from and also a variety of training levels on each plan. Taking into account what I knew would be feasible for me, I created a patchwork plan sourcing information from about three different sites. My goal was simply finishing the marathon, so I chose what I felt would work best for me to achieve that goal.
During my early searches, sites for running coaches would often appear. When thinking of coaching, I would just think of high school sports or elite athletes. Honestly, I was unaware adults were hiring running coaches. As I set my sites on looking to qualify for Boston, I began to consider having someone tailor a specific and personalized training plan for me. I enjoy creating my own plans for shorter races, but the marathon is a whole new ballgame.
My prior experience with coaches has varied from bad to good to best. The best running coach I had was in high school – he tailored the workouts to my needs (my body didn’t respond to traditional long distance workouts), he listened to my aches and pains, reined me in when needed and we communicated well. I’ve also been on the flipside with a coach I didn’t connect with – and honestly, I never performed my best (fault on both sides). Once I decided to have someone help guide me to BQ, I knew it was essential to find a coach that would mesh well with me and my goals.
One of my training partners just happens to be a Road Runners Club of America Certified Coach. Today, Coach Jeremy of RunningDad.com takes on questions I posed to him regarding coaching runners.
Who do you want to coach? Beginner/competitive runners? Would you coach kids?
Coach Jeremy:I have coached brand new runners and Boston qualifiers. No matter the experience level, I enjoy helping my athletes establish goals and plan toward meeting and exceeding them.
With beginners, it is all about getting started and building off of each run, in a controlled manner. Doing too much, too fast, is the leading cause of injury for new runners. I collect as much feedback as I can from the athletes to either push them out of their comfort zone when necessary, or pull the reins when necessary.
With competitive runners, it is all about goals and staying focused on those goals. There can be a lot of outside interference that can impede the path to those goals. My job is help navigate those roadblocks and determine the best way to reach the targeted outcome.
I would love to work with coaching kids on their running. I have coached kids in all sports as my sons work their way through rec and travel sports, but I have not coached kids specifically at running. It is my goal to establish a kids running program under the Running Dad Coaching umbrella.
What is your coaching style like?
Coach Jeremy:I would describe my coaching style as flexible, fluid, and fun. My athletes are not professional runners. I am not a professional runner. Work and family takes up a lot of time. I understand the time crunch and help my athletes establish a routine that works for their lifestyle. As opposed to finding an online training plan or one from a book or magazine, I cater each workout to the individual. Based on feedback from each run, I may change the upcoming workouts to best suit the athlete and what they have happening in their lives. I interact with each of my athletes and we have fun. Whether it is sharing a funny story from a run, a personal achievement outside of running, or just chatting about life in general – I try and keep my athletes happy and the training fun.
What can an athlete expect from you when hiring you to coach?
Coach Jeremy: Accountability. I care how my athletes are doing in their pursuit of their goals. I am invested in their success and share in their failures. I treat our relationship like a partnership. We are in it together to reach our goals. Having a coach that is invested in your success is a great motivator.
What do you feel makes for an effective coach/athlete relationship?
Coach Jeremy: Communication is the biggest part of a coach/athlete relationship. I feel that the runners I have the most communication with are the ones that are constantly making the most progress. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of what will work best for my athletes and their lifestyle. Like any relationship, communication is key.
Why should someone hire you as a coach?/What should a runner look for in a coach?
Coach Jeremy: A runner should hire me to coach them to help navigate the path to their goals. I started from scratch, with no coach, just with a goal to lose weight. I made a lot of mistakes. I was often injured. I had no clue what I was doing. Then I hired a coach. My coach spent more time holding me back, than pushing me to my limits. That was a good thing, for me. I have come a long way, and I like to share what I have learned. I derive a lot of pleasure from helping people reach their goals. I feel my style of coaching gives an athlete someone they can trust to keep them on track and prevent injury.
I am always trying to learn more about getting the most out of my running abilities. I share what I learn with my athletes and also learn from what they find works the best for them.
When looking for a coach, I recommend finding someone who will take a realistic look at your goals and discuss what it takes to get there. If your ideas and philosophies don’t match up, move on. It is an ongoing relationship, and you need to be comfortable with the person that you have asked to help guide you in your running.
Give me your greatest strength in coaching and your greatest weakness.
Coach Jeremy: My greatest strength in coaching is my experience. I went from couch potato to ultra marathoner. I learned a lot. I love to share that knowledge to help others.
My greatest weakness that I am still working on is time management. I would love to dedicate more time to my athletes – to be able to actually run with them if they are local – to be able to be available for phone calls or video chats throughout the day. But with work and family, coaching is not my main focus; not my all-day job. I do the best I can and someday hope to be a full-time running coach.
What are your qualifications?
RRCA Certified Running Coach (Road Runners Club of America) CPR Certified
Boston Marathon qualifier multiple times
Sub 3 hour marathoner
Multiple ultramarathons – up to 50 miles and training for a 100 miler
Competitive times for my age group
How do you measure success?
Coach Jeremy:Success for me as a runner, and as coach, is to find a way to navigate life’s path without hitting the wall. Always moving forward, even if it requires a few steps back to find a new route. Roadblocks for runners can be injury, losing the drive to set and reach goals, or an unforeseen situation that keeps us from running. Every time I lace up my shoes and step out the door, or see an athlete complete a workout I prescribed, I see those as successes.
What made you want to be a coach?
Coach Jeremy: People had told me that my own personal transformation and successes as a runner were an inspiration to them. That made me feel really good about what I was doing, I decided I would like to help other people find their own successes and healthier lifestyles.
What is your favorite workout?
Coach Jeremy: On the track, I am partial to Yasso’s 800’s. These are 10×800 meter repeats with an equal amount of rest time between each round. They give you comparable numbers from each time you do them, so you can judge your progress by looking back at previous workouts.
Off the track, long slow runs with friends are hard to beat.
Coach Jeremy & Team Running Dad after the 2015 Richmond Marathon:
2 Qualified for Boston!
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to tell us more about you and why we should hire a running coach.
Be sure to visit RunningDad.com to check out a plan that might work for you whether it be monthly coaching or working towards a half or full marathon. I am fortunate he lives in the same city I do; but Coach Jeremy is able to coach you no matter where you live via apps, phone/web chats and more.
I am nervous, yet extremely excited to work with a coach to help guide me to a (hopefully) BQ time. I’ve selected an early September marathon, so look for BQ training updates to begin in early May. Game on!