Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Moving forward and feeling good!

I have not written in any detail about changing coaches, but I made that choice several weeks ago. It was a decision I had been wrestling with for while, and one that I put a lot of thought and prayer in to. (I wrote a little about the emotional side of the decision here).

Ultimately, this running journey is mine. In a life that I have joyfully dedicated to caring for, loving, and serving others - in raising my family,  in church callings, in being an advocate for adoption for special needs children, in being an advocate/educator about HIV, in coaching, etc. - my running is one of the few things that I do for myself. Yes, I am extremely grateful to all of those who support me and help me. And yes, I try to inspire others along the way and I love being a part of and giving back to the running community. And yes, Josh, family, and friends share the journey with me in many ways - but getting up at 4:15am each day, putting in all the miles, cross training, constantly pushing myself, racing, big goals, dreams, etc. is what I do for me. For Erin.

And my training has to work for me. While there are some principles in running that are universal, there are also many schools of thought in regards to training for marathons, and what works best for one runner does not always work best for another.  And doing the same thing over and over when it clearly is not working and hoping for different results is not wise.  It was obvious from my racing results and the way I was feeling that my training was not working for me. I had many people in the running community, whose opinions I value, recommend that I make a change.  As much as I wanted things to work out, I had a nagging feeling that the person I had entrusted my training to was not the right choice for me as I had hoped (which he confirmed after I made the decision to move on, in some very hurtful public postings).

Before making the decision to change, I talked to several well known coaches, who have experience coaching at the Olympic Trials level. I was very grateful for their time and input. None of them said my goals were out of reach. Of course no one can guarantee anything, no one knows what the future holds, and it is up to me to put in the hard work, but no one told me I was being crazy or unrealistic. All agreed I was over-training in intensity. I got a thorough coaching consult from someone I admire and have a lot of respect for, and he laid out a plan. He told me what he would change and why, and how the changes would improve my running and racing. He showed me where I was over-trained and where I was under-trained. It was a plan I understood, that made sense, that "rang true".  It was a plan that is flexible and would change along with my needs. It was a plan I had confidence in and was excited about, and that made me realize I had lost confidence in the old plan.

And STILL, it was a difficult and emotional decision. I talked to those closest to me. Finally a friend said, "Erin, you know what is right.You know what you want to do and need to do. Listen to your gut." And then I knew she was right - and I made the decision and moved forward. Ultimately, I followed what I learned in my own coaching training - that the athlete's needs should come first.

The decision did not come without some very unexpected backlash, but as hurtful as it was, it just reconfirmed that I had made the right decision.

Josh's mom, who had read Chrissie Wellington's book, "A Life Without Limits" reminded me about Chrissie's challenges with finding the right coach, and the challenges that came for her with changing coaches. I am obviously nowhere near the caliber of athlete that Chrissie is, but it made me feel better that it was a challenge she (and others) also went through. My dear best friend reminded me how important it is to find the right "fit" between coach and athlete and that even the very elite runners change coaches when necessary. I am often not a fan of change, but sometimes it is needed, and good.

Since then, I have moved forward with confidence and peace. I enjoyed the taper for the NYC Marathon. Trying to put a positive spin on things, I can see how not racing a marathon last weekend will benefit my bigger picture of training and racing.  With two super easy recovery weeks after Denver, then two weeks of training and then two taper weeks leading up to New York, I have had a very nice, extended break. I enjoyed my weekend in New York. I ate way too much for a couple of days and enjoyed it. I decided to take off Monday and yesterday completely from running and now I am SO ready to be moving forward, starting fresh with a new plan and a new coach.

I am very excited to be working with Sage Canaday (of Vo2Max Productions, two-time Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier, a 2:16 marathoner, winner of the 2012 US Mountain Running Championships, running coach, and author of "Running with the Hanson's" are just some of his notables). He was featured in this article in the most recent issue of Running Times.

I think Sage and I will work together very well. He is very, very knowledgeable about running and training, and is very into the "science" of running and training, which I love. I like to learn and understand my sport and my training. I like to know what paces to run which runs at and why. I like knowing which runs are vo2 max runs and which are lactate threshold runs and how they all work to make me a better marathoner. I like that he answers my questions with concrete answers, and believes I have faster times in me.

Part of the plan is that next year I will run just three marathons. One in February (Tallahassee!), one in early summer, and then one very late in the year. As fun as Boston and NYC are, I have had those experiences, and now will choose races that are more geared at fast times. There will also be more shorter races thrown in to get my half marathon time down and to work more on running/racing fast. Along with that there will be more recovery in between marathons, more complete marathon training cycles/plans, and Sage's wisdom, experience, and guidance coaching me. I am ready to put in the work and see what happens.

I am feeling good.


29 comments:

Kathy said...

I was wondering what was going on. Sorry to hear that there was some unpleasantness but you are absolutely right. This is for YOU. And change is inevitable. Here's hoping for a fabulous working relationship with Sage!!! Onward to Tallahassee!!! :)

Mark Matthews said...

Wow. I can feel how hard that must have been from reading.

I promise the day you stop needing all my coaching advice, I won't be hurt at all, and will not personalize it. (read that in sarcasm/joke/empathy font)

Get a front spot in Chicago, where you won't have to deal with the crowds, you'll get your own table aid stations, a 43 degree and no wind in the forecast day, and nail your 2:57 there perhaps.

Jennifer Ellis said...

I'm so happy for you Erin and glad you are at peace with your decision. Ultimately, after all of that training, you have to answer to yourself and not others. I'm excited to see what your future holds. And I LOVED the comments above by Mark Matthews! LOL!!!
Jenny

{lifeasa}RunningMom said...

Wow! You have been through a lot. Change can be tough especially with something you are so committed to for yourself. I am so sorry your decision, which I completely support, was surrounded with negativity. You did make the right decision and as my good friend always says....it all pans out at the end and we all eventually show our true colors.

Peace and Happy Running!

Adrienne said...

Wow! I think you made the right choice with the switch, and especially going with Sage. He's been there many times-and he's just a good dude! Congrats!

Natalie R. said...

Yeah for you! It is hard to let go of people and things that we have put our trust and faith in! Glad you had a friend there to help you see. You always!! feel better after following your "gut." There is a peace that comes with it, even though it is hard. Sorry it has been a struggle for you. I, too, enjoy the science of racing/body conditioning. It will be fun to have some new courses and experience, too! Best to the future!!

Jill said...

Sorry to hear about that tough decision and what followed, but I'm looking forward to reading about your progress in the coming year. Glad you are feeling good.

Mommy Run Fast said...

What a tough decision! I'm so sorry there was some backlash, that seems extremely inappropriate, but would definitely confirm your choice to make a change. Excited that you have found a better fit!

Terzah said...

Yay Erin! This post makes me happy!

misszippy said...

Change is hard and not to be stereotypical, but as females, we tend to worry too much about hurting others' feelings. In the end, it was a business deal, even if you had emotional attachment to him, so you made the smart business decision. Sounds like you have found a perfect fit in your new coach!

Teamarcia said...

All the best with your new coach! Sorry there was stress and conflict leading you to this point but change is never easy. I'm glad you're feeling good!

Jen@runfortheboys said...

As always, classy and well stated. You are a better woman than I am!!! Love you lots much.

~your bff

Mark Matthews said...

I forget to say "Mean people Suck"

Kate said...

Good for you for doing what is best for you. I'm sorry you had to deal with some backlash, but as you said, it only reaffirms that you made the correct decision.

Best of luck working with your new coach!

Mom on the Move said...

It sounds like you made the right decision. I hope it works out for you.

Kortni said...

Congrats on doing what you knew to be right even it it was hard. Hearing how excited you sound about the future is awesome. I can't wait to continue reading about your journey!

coach dion said...

There is so much i would like to say, but I'll try and keep it short...

Over the years that I have coach I have had a lot of very different athletes, but all at UCT (except my wife)so call them 18-24 years old and at that age you can throw anything at them and they can recover, but then the next week you are stuch with exams and they are gone... Not an easy Life for a coach, but I fit in well and try and teach them for the years of running to come.

Now I've had a couple of guys climb out the wood work and come back to me asking for help, and a couple of guys at other running clubs have also come knocking. Now it's easy to coach from a spot, but to coach via email... Not Easy.

So this is where your science of training comes in: look at it like this, if I take the guys out for an easy run I can see if it's easy, they can't cheat (cheat on an easy run, oh yes, winning training is always good, running to fast on easy runs...) So I tell you to run easy 10 miles, you run and tell me it was easy, but was it? Enter science, and maybe running with a Heart Rate Monitor easy, run at this % of max, can't cheat, legs stay fresh, session goes well (again don't race the sessions) legs stay fresh but you get strong... Race wow didn't know it would go so well, I was training harder before and racing slower.

Good Luck and yes I'll keep throwing my 2 cents in and I will also steel from what you write to improve me as a coach.

Sub 3 next time out.

coach dion said...

There is so much i would like to say, but I'll try and keep it short...

Over the years that I have coach I have had a lot of very different athletes, but all at UCT (except my wife)so call them 18-24 years old and at that age you can throw anything at them and they can recover, but then the next week you are stuch with exams and they are gone... Not an easy Life for a coach, but I fit in well and try and teach them for the years of running to come.

Now I've had a couple of guys climb out the wood work and come back to me asking for help, and a couple of guys at other running clubs have also come knocking. Now it's easy to coach from a spot, but to coach via email... Not Easy.

So this is where your science of training comes in: look at it like this, if I take the guys out for an easy run I can see if it's easy, they can't cheat (cheat on an easy run, oh yes, winning training is always good, running to fast on easy runs...) So I tell you to run easy 10 miles, you run and tell me it was easy, but was it? Enter science, and maybe running with a Heart Rate Monitor easy, run at this % of max, can't cheat, legs stay fresh, session goes well (again don't race the sessions) legs stay fresh but you get strong... Race wow didn't know it would go so well, I was training harder before and racing slower.

Good Luck and yes I'll keep throwing my 2 cents in and I will also steel from what you write to improve me as a coach.

Sub 3 next time out.

L.A. Runner said...

Um, I'll just get my immature, teenage comments out of the way first- he is 2nd on my "Runner Crush" list. Hello, HOTTIE!!!! So, yeah, we'd appreciate any pics you take with him.

I really, really hope this works out for you, Erin. You definitely deserve someone that can guide you in a healhty and supportive way. Being that he's a Brooks guy (and a sexy beast), I've got a good feeling.

Onward and upward!!!!!!

L.A. Runner said...

Oh, and also in regards to Mark's above comment about Chicago, even that front area for Sub 3 is VERY crowded. I'll never do that race again. (Well, unless I get super fast and can get an actual elite bib, but I'm not holding my breath. HA!)

kalie said...

You're really brave. I love how you are true to yourself. It's what makes this blog so great to read. Well, that and ... You're amazing.

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Jennifer Ellis said...

Regarding Chicago....I personally LOVED that marathon...if you are up front (as I know you will be) it could be a great race. Flat and fast!!!

Suz and Allan said...

Hope the coaching change works out for the best for you! It sounds like you and Sage will work very well together.

Molly said...

Great to hear you are feeling good and ready for this next phase! I love that song lyric, "every new beginning starts from some other beginnings end...."

robinbb said...

So glad you were able to cut ties with a coach that wasn't training you with what worked for you. I am on my second coach now and feel she understands me so much more than my last one and I am seeing the improvements that I was hoping to see in the past.

Sage, wow!!!!!! I am with Rebecca above, so so cool!

Kristin said...

As a teacher, I can't imagine someone saying "I don't want you as my teacher." and feeling good about it. It would simply lead me to bettering myself as an educator. I would NEVER publicly say anything about it. Public athletes change coaches all the time. I'm sorry for your negative experience. I'm glad that you're pressing on, you can do it!!!

brg said...

Sorry about your break up experience with Rick. I'm guessing you were his star runner and I'm sure it hurt his ego that you were dumping him.

I do think you are making a smart move to reach your goal. I read Rick's bio and tho he's good a motivating large groups of people (and raising money) - i didn't see that he had worked with elites and any experience in the elite arena.

You do have a big goal and I think working with someone that has been in that arena and that has been coached by some of the best - is a GREAT decision. I did read his book last year - it was an interesting read. good luck to you and your new coach!

Jill said...

Ah girl, I read this the other day and haven't had a chance to comment (I'm working now - gasp!! - blogging is so very hard lately, sorry!). Anyway, I had to pop over and tell you good for you for sticking with what you feel is right and following your heart! This journey is about you and people change coaches all the time to get the right fit. Kudos to you...I hope NOTHING but happy miles for you ahead!!

xoxo