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.