On the other hand, being uncoached implies that I am just floating around in my workouts with no one telling me what to do, however that is not 100% accurate. My plan has some structure and defined workouts, which I map out anywhere from a few weeks to a few hours ahead of time, and then I adhere to whatever I have called for. I have tried coaching myself in the past with varying results, including abysmal, awful, and awesome . The major downside to being your own coach is that you lack objectivity. For this reason alone, I think hiring a coach is a wise investment. Also, hiring a coach forces you to be accountable, though I am finding I do in fact have the discipline I used to think I lacked.
The upside of the DIY run coaching thing is that it’s an opportunity to be creative and thoughtful in preparing workout plans, and it can be fun to put a plan together and see how it goes. One of my favorite running bloggers does this all the time, and it’s really fascinating. At least to me, as a runner, the same way guns are fascinating to gun nuts (I don’t really know what gun people call themselves; I learned just how into guns gun people are when I went to a gun safety class), or how languages like Java and C++ are fascinating to web developers (yet another category of stuff I know little about, though I have absorbed a few fancy terms via osmosis, which I guess is what happens when you are married to a web geek software developer).
In the past, when I did not use a coach, I would map out an entire 12 to 20 week plan, and then my schedule, body, and/or willpower would not cooperate. Inevitably, I would skip or modify workouts, then be fraught with guilt as a result, or do the workouts anyway, and dig myself into a deeper hole of fatigue, inevitably showing up on race day unprepared to do my best.
This time however, I am approaching things a little differently. While I will have some structure and planning, the plan will be less rigid, more based on how I am feeling, and not mapped out so far in advance. I will continue to do the things that have worked for me in the past, including:
-Backing off the mileage every third week to absorb the training load.
-Alternating hard workouts and easy workouts
– Doing core/strength work 1-2 days per week.
-Cross training (mostly biking on the trainer) about once a week, as an active recovery workout.
What has been working for me with this training cycle so far, is to loosely map out the week in my mind somewhat in advance, and then nail down the details a few days or so in advance. Like this week, I mapped out which days would be hard versus easy, which day I would cross train, which day I would take off, etc, and then Sunday night I wrote down my track workout for this morning. During my warm-up I decided that for my 200’s I would walk/jog 200 to recover, and for my 400’s and 800’s, I would walk/jog for 400 to recover. Not the most scientific plan, but I decided my goal was to run each interval as fast as possible, while working on pacing and working hard in a fatigued state, so that’s how I came up with that. Thursday will be my next quality run, probably a hill workout of some kind, but I have not determined exactly what I’m going to do.
I’ve been doing it like this for about four weeks now and so far, it’s working. I feel energized and motivated, and my times are gradually coming down. My goal is to run a mid-November half marathon in a time of 1:45. Gulp. There, I put it out for the whole world to see. And by “the whole world” I mean my mom and a few of my Facebook friends. So now it’s out there. My PR is 1:50, so it would be a stretch.
So real quick, before Sweet Pea wakes up from her nap, which is when I hit “Publish” (which is actually a fantasy. In reality I will hit “Save” and review this a million times for typos and misspellings after she’s in bed for the night), I just need to say I nailed my track workout this morning. The workout was 8×200, 4×400, 2×800. My 200’s were faster than the 200’s I did last week and as fast as any 200’s I’ve ever run, ranging from 46 to 49 seconds. The 400’s were around 1:45, which is a good time for me, and the times for my 800’s were similar to how I would run when I am in pretty good shape (about 3:40). So I would have to say this DIY project is off to an auspicious start.