“In the end, I guess the most important person we need to answer to is the face we see in the mirror every morning.” It’s one of those things that people say. It’s a cliche. And unlike most cliches, it’s dead wrong.

In this month’s Running Times magazine, Rachel Toor writes an excellent, introspective article on her experiences with having a running coach.

Ms. Toor (a 3:14 marathoner) is like most runners.  Stubborn.  Creature of habit.  Reluctant to try something new. (“Lift weights?  No way!”  “Only run three days a week?  Are you crazy?!?!?”)

I’ve worked with enough runners to know that is the norm rather than the exception.  But should it be?

Ms. Toor highlights the recent coaching she received from Furman University researchers and the scientific-based approach they incorporate into their plans (the only safe, effective, productive method, in my opinion).  Despite her stubbornness, she learned, among other things, that

  • junk miles, while they might provide a psychological reprieve from daily life, are mostly that, junk
  • being held accountable is an important motivator

When, toward the end of my tempo runs, I wanted to slow or stop, I’d remember that I was going to have to report to my coach. I wanted not to disappoint him; I wanted, in fact, to run harder than he thought I could. So I pushed.

There are a variety of options for endurance coaching.  One is an online template that runners can download and then structure their workouts.  Interestingly, I recently asked someone what she was doing to prepare for the Lincoln Half Marathon.  Her reply? “Modify one of (a certain person’s stock) plans . . .”  There’s nothing seriously wrong with downloading a pre-made plan.  Heck, I used that same person’s plan when I ran my first marathon way back in 2004; in looking at that plan now, this person’s website offers the exact same plan some 8 years later.  For those wanting to simply finish a race of a given distance, that is not a major issue.  But, so much new research (like dynamic stretching, core stability and strength training) has been published that demonstrates improved training techniques to make us both less injury prone and faster runners.

So, as Ms. Toor points out in her article, for those wanting to improve, for those wanting to go faster (perhaps faster than they imagined), coaching is the best approach.

We’re proud of the coaching we provide at OSPT.  But if you don’t choose us to guide you through your next event, we suggest, at the very least, that you sign up with a coach that relies on the available research . . . as Ms. Toor concludes,

What I learned, other than the obvious insight that if you want to run faster you have to run faster, is that being secure enough to ask for and receive help is a hallmark of growth and maturity. You receive a more realistic image of yourself than the one in the mirror. Sometimes it’s hard to face, but most of the time it feels like a gift.

So, good luck during the training you undertake for your endurance-related events . . . we’re proud of the steps you’ve taken to get to this point!