I’m a control freak. Always have been. I’m no good at being laid back and going with the flow–I need to know what’s going on, and when, and how, and WAIT I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS SO I KNOW ALL THE THINGS AND CAN THUSLY FEEL IN CONTROL.
Ahem. So yeah, like I said. I need to be in charge. And marathon training is no exception. While I’m using a Higdon program, and I ask Joseph for his advice about once every three minutes, I’m ultimately in charge of what I run on any given day–and I like that. A lot.
However, I’m obviously no expert. And while Joseph has graciously answered every question I’ve ever thrown at him and given me some great workouts, he’s also always followed it up with “but remember, I’m not a marathoner.” And he’s not–he’s a damn fast 5k runner (and I happen to know he’s not too shabby at the 13.1 either) but he’s quick to tell you short distances are his specialty.
Around the time I started to think about getting some straight-up marathon coaching, I realized I was getting lost in my workout schedule. There aren’t really any beginner tri programs out there that take into account that you’re gearing up for a marathon too, so I’ve just been making things up as I go along–and I’ve had my suspicions this could get dangerous down the road. (I’m pretty sure I have a textbook prone-to-overtrain personality, if there is such a thing.)
So, to the point: I hired a no-joke coach to boss me around. Many of you have probably seen him around Twitter and DailyMile, he’s Jeff Kline (@coachprs). Here’s the deal, though. Jeff is all about this heart-rate training that everyone seems to know more about than I do. What does that mean? I’m going to be running SLOW. Like SLOW SLOW. We’re going to teach my heart to be more efficient–straight from the coach: “You must learn to slow down to go faster. Trust me.”
I’ve seen my first week of workouts, which is more testing than anything (gotta find that max heart rate!) and it already feels weird. The mileage is low. The paces are based on my heart rate. The workout is based on time, not mileage (so far, anyways.) I’m already freaking out a little, as my controlling self would like to run x miles at x pace, thankyouverymuch. But I’m handing it over, and trusting a method that has shown plenty others tremendous success.
I always thought this hiring a coach business was pretty hokey, but Jeff is extremely affordable, and I decided to hire him because, when I asked him how many months I had to commit to, he told me this: “Just one. We go month-by-month. Because you might decide you hate me. And I might decide I don’t want to work with you. If you’re not doing the work I don’t want you telling people I’m coaching you.” Basically, if I suck because I’m not trying hard, he’ll dump me. I like that. A lot. I feel like he has a vested interest in seeing me improve.
I’ve worked out two very specific goals with Jeff that we’re going to try to accomplish within the next couple months, and the first is to break 1:50 at the Earth Day Half Marathon on April 17. So we’ve got some work to do.
Stay tuned, kids. It’s going to be an interesting ride.