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My Coach: Wanted for Attempted Murder

Okay, so he’s not really.

But after 3200 meters (!) in the pool this morning, I am questioning his motives. I emailed him, “I’m now 1000% sure you are trying to drown me.”  To which he responds, “You are on to me.”

So fine, I’m not the easiest athlete to coach. Oh! I forgot to mention, I had a three mile run and drills before that swim too.  Attempted murder, I say. I won’t tell you what time I had to wake up to finish those shenanigans.

Me, Bob Roll (!) and Coach M
August 2011
But, I also understand that I’m now looking at a Race Countdown Clock of 58 days. Time to freak out or work my butt off. I choose both, I guess.
Some of you have asked about coaches. Yes, they can be pricey (some of them more so than others).  But at a bare minimum, I would suggest a super training plan written by a coach who you respect or trust.  The good thing about a coach, and the reason Coach Monster won’t write a book containing basic, block training plans, is the fact that a coach can listen to you (even if not all the time) and adapt your training accordingly. For me, the hand-holding is important.

For instance, I’ve been dealing with a tad of a bum knee.  I have the Publix Half Marathon on the race calendar for March 18.  However, this is not an easy course. It’s hilly and crowded and crazy. Coach M sends me an email: “Do you still want to do the Half?”

“I’m not sure. I’m thinking that I should do 13.1 that day, but maybe on my terms, under my conditions, like on a flat trail,” I write.

He writes back, “Yep, bingo.” 

So something as simple as a race day call.  Yes, I could do the 13.1, but it’s probably not the smartest move with the knee situation. Having the reinforcement from a coach saying that I’m not as stupid as originally thought is always a plus.
Not to mention that I would never in a hundred billion years have the courage and balls to do a 3 mile run folllowed by a 3200m swim without someone “making” me.  I need the push. I need the push that Coach M brings, and in the way he does it. I would never believe in myself like he does (or at least how he writes it).
The best thing about Coach Monster is that he will put something ridiculous on the training schedule, something that makes my eyes pop out of my head.  And somehow, I will do it. For instance, in the build up to Miami, the farthest I had run was 6.2 miles.  I looked at my training schedule after St. Anthony’s and it went something like this:
Saturday: 8 mile run 
Next Saturday: 9 mile run 
Next Saturday: 10 mile run
Following Saturday: 11 mile run
So I sent him email. “Uh, this schedule is insane. In-sane.”
“What?” he wrote.
“Eleven miles! In just four weeks!!” I screamed via my computer.
“Can you run 7 miles?” he wrote.
“Yes, I think so. I have run 6.2. So yes, I think I can.”
“I’m pretty sure next week says ‘Run 7 miles.'”  At this point, he picked up the phone and called me.
“Yes, but the week after that—-”  I immediately protested when I answered the phone.
“Can you run ONE mile?” he asked.
“What? Yes, I just said I could run seven —” I sputtered.
“Then Saturday, run seven miles. The next week, run seven again. And then run one more mile,” he said.
I sighed.  I was getting nowhere.
But in all reality, I was getting everywhere. Coach M had the perfect response for me, in this instance, and it wasn’t “suck it up and do it.”  That’s never his response.  More like, you’ve done X, now do X+Y.  For some reason, that clicks with me.  Now, I try not to focus on the X+Y+Z+A+B+C+D+E required to make it to my next race… only focus on the short equations to make it through the next workout. 
The one step forward, the one more mile. Mainly this works…because I’ve never been any good at math…

(And… May the odds be ever in your favor.)

Don’t be a Party Pooper. Come Play.

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  • Karen

    February 23, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    I thought I saw you swimming this morning as I was leaving. Just curious, is your training about the same as it was for Miami or is Coach M ramping it up on you to make it more about time improvement and less about simply finishing this time?

  • Matthew Smith

    February 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    It sounds like you've got a tough but really good coach. He doesn't let you off for anything. And good for you for kicking some butt out there today. Keep up the good work!

  • Sarah

    February 23, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    I totally agree about getting a coach. When I decided to try triathlon after just running, I decided to work with a coach. If it had been up to me, I would have done a sprint in May and a sprint in August. And I might not even have, because I had no internal motivation to actually ride my bike for the first time in a decade. But my coach told me I'd get bored training for a sprint, let's find a sprint in March and an Olympic in May, and here I am, less than two months after starting training, about to do my first sprint tri in a week! And I'm stepping outside of my comfort zone and getting on my bike (gotta do it when someone's looking at my logs!).

  • TX Runner Mom

    February 23, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    I agree – a good coach is worth every penny! I *heart* my coach (even if I am technically not being coached right now…damn hip!).

  • Swim Bike Mom

    February 23, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Karen… I'm not sure. I feel like it's more intense, BUT when I look back at the Miami ramp up… no… I was putting down 12 by now.. but I guess I did just run a half mary. I don't know. I definitely wasn't swimming 2 miles each workout. :-/

  • Stefanie Frank

    February 24, 2012 at 1:57 am

    My jaw dropped when I looked at my schedule for the first full week in March (next week is a rest week).

    One of the things my coach wrote in the goals section for that week was this:

    STICK WITH IT. This means something to you – GO AFTER IT WITH 100% HEART & HEAD.

    She SO gets me. Not only is she awesome with the technical stuff but she GETS me.

    In 2007 I worked with the wrong coach for way too long — she could not handle my complete lack of confidence in myself. Making a smart switch made all the difference.

    She still gets me now — me and my much improved mindset. Coaching rocks I personally wouldn't do the 70.3 distance without her.

  • Duckie

    February 25, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    My coach has been indispensable. There have been several good blogs lately about the merits of hiring a good coach. When I started working with DW, he immediately recognized the fact that I needed to start over and rebuild from the bottom up. Now 6 months later, he has guided me through successfully integrating my training and work life, brought me back through a couple of injuries, and changed the way I view my training and myself. Not to mention that my volume is as high as it ever was but feels totally manageable. As a friend who hadn't seen me in a year said "Whatever you are paying that guy in Austin, he's worth every penny!"

    Awesome post, Meredith, as always.

  • Ara

    February 25, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    It sounds like you have an awesome coach! That's why I picked the coach I have too. He pushes me. Like you said, it can get expensive, but I'll tell you this, it is worth every penny.


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