I have the best coach in the entire world. Here are things a good coach does for you:
- Plans your workouts
- Talks to you about your goals
- Plans your training to help achieve your goals
- Follows up with your training on a regular basis
- Provides feedback on your training
- Modifies training based on feedback
A Bit of Background
Take, for example, my long run last week. The schedule, not written by my coach, says that I was to run 12.5 miles on a Thursday afternoon. Now, long runs are supposed to be just that, long. Not fast. Not hard. Low intensity distance designed to increase your endurance and encourage capillary growth. In my training season thus far- My fast runs are just under 7:00 per mile. My tempo runs hold between 7:15-7:30. My Personal Record for a 13.1 mile run is a 7:29 pace.
On this particular Thursday afternoon I was feeling great. My technique was smooth. My energy levels were consistent. I was having an amazing run. When I finished, the Garmin listed my distance at 12.82 miles. See, no accountability needed. My time, 1:37.00. Pace 7:33. I was 4 seconds off record setting pace on a mid-week training run in early January. My spirits were high and I started to re-evaluate some of my goals for the rest of the season.
Once Friday morning arrived, I realized the error of my ways. I was tight. I was sore. My energy was down. My body was in full blown repair mode trying to right the wrongs achieved from yesterday's run. The tightness, soreness, repairness did not change on Saturday forcing me to skip my workouts to provide an extra day of recovery from that 'awesome' long run. In essence, despite the speed achieved, it was not a very intelligent run. I should have slowed down and not allowed my ego and Garmin to dictate my pace.
The 'Dinner' Concept
Enter this week's long run. I had a conversation with my coach, AKA the Wife. I told her that I needed to find ways to slow down on my long run. "I can help with that," she says coyly.
"Really," I respond. My eyebrows raised in full blown curiosity. "Tell me more."
"What was the 'slow' pace that you want to go?" she asked. I told her 7:50's or slower. "Well, if you go 8:00 per mile or slower on your run today, we can have 'dinner' tonight." Then she gave me her large, brown-eyed suggestive look complete with provocative blinks. "I want to see the data or no 'dinner' for you." I was going to slow down.
You and I both know that 'dinner' is a euphemism for, um, a meal eaten in the evening. I really like having 'dinner' with the Wife. There is no one else in the world I would rather have 'dinner' with. In my mind, she is the greatest 'dinner' partner in the world. Maybe it's is because I am a dog, or a male, or a bit of both, but when she hints at us having 'dinner' together, I am obedient. The Wife clearly knows motivation and is not afraid to use 'food' to help me in my endeavors.
So, I set off on a 13.1 mile run with the plan of running 8:00 per mile or slower. The thought of 'dinner' was consistently on my mind. Normally, the concept of having 'dinner' with the Wife is reason to run faster. I want to get in my miles so that I can start my 'meal' as soon as possible. Not today. Slow and steady earns the 'food'.
The concept of slowing down for me is a tough one. I am competitive by nature and I have the male ego gene working against me. Both of these facts normally yield high efforts. Slow running is counter-intuitive when the ego is in charge. My first mile clocked in at a 7:50 and my second was a 7:33 (there was a long downhill). It was clear that the ego was still in charge. This is not the path to 'dinner' and the Garmin data was clear in this. The third came in around 8:25 (there was a long uphill). The Wife's 'dinner' was starting to take the run over.
When all was said and done, I clicked off the Garmin at 13.11 miles and a time of 1:45.01. I showed the Wife the data in an effort to show I wasn't fudging the numbers. I could have easily run hard for most of it and walked some whilst keeping the Garmin running. I did not do that. The faster/ slower paces were guided by the hill profile.
'Dinner' was served hot.