Onward!

marathon-recoveryAfter Grandma’s, I gave myself some sulking time over the outcome, posted about it (which actually really helped) and now I’m ready to move on. I’m happy with the time I ran, and ecstatic that I made it to the starting line injury free. You know, it wasn’t until I posted my review that many of you commented and congratulated me on getting to the start injury free. That gave me a lot of perspective. When I ran Boston, I was still pretty fresh off my Achilles injury and while I was still treating it during Grandma’s training, it became less and less of a concern. I did have some pain after the race, but I think my calves were just tight from the marathon, and that’s totally acceptable. It’s several days later and it feels fine, and I’ve already run on it. Maybe I didn’t achieve my time goal, but yeah – the injury free thing, huge. Thank you so much for pointing that out to me.  Many of the habits I was incorporating (drills, foam rolling, stretching, etc) into my training helped get me to the start of Grandma’s injury free. As I move forward, I plan to continue them. I’m happy with the time I ran and it’s given me a reason to change up my routine in the upcoming weeks.

As for what’s next…I think I have a solid plan to take me through November:

  1. Race Street Run 15K, July 4th
  2. Steelman Open Water Swim, July 12th
  3. Quadzilla 15K Trail Race, July 19th
  4. Steelman Olympic Triathlon, August 9th
  5. VIA Half Marathon (Lehigh Valley Marathon), September 13th
  6. Celtic Classic 10K, September 26th
  7. Hartford Marathon, October 10th
  8. Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, November 7th

I may throw in some holiday races after Indy – like 5ks and 5 milers – but only if I feel recovered, and it will just be strictly for fun. The plan is to do some active recovery now, leading into my next training block, and then bust out a nice fall race schedule. I will recover after Indy in November. Like a full month of zero training, just running when I feel like it. Low volume. I want to start base building again in December – zero intensity during that month, too. When January hits, I’m going to start Boston training. I always have these great plans and they always go awry – but here we go anyway!

Here’s the thing. There was no mention of my coach in any of those plans. That’s because I broke up with him. Maybe the decision was hasty because I was two days post Grandma’s when I fired off the e-mail, but I did. Yep. That happened.

See, I never had a coach before last August. I trained myself to get my 3:06. I hired him with the hopes of going sub-3, and that hasn’t happened. I’ve been with him for almost a year, and I’ve actually gotten further from my goal. HOWEVER. With that being said, I need to also say this: he is an incredible coach. I have zero regrets that I tried working with him. I don’t fault him AT ALL for my shortfalls, either. It might sound like I do, especially by the way I began addressing this. I can say with my whole heart that don’t regret working with him. It just didn’t work for me, but I’ve seen him do really incredible things with other people.

I’m fully aware that I’m not an easy athlete to work with. I come with baggage – I have habits and routines that I’ve become accustomed to over my years as a runner, I’m stubborn, and injury prone. Having certain ideas about how to train for marathons and being stubborn meant I never fully trusted anyone training me, especially when it wasn’t what I was used to. While being coached, I never thought I was running enough miles. Sometimes I thought the miles were too fast, other times I thought they were not fast enough – the list of criticism I had goes on. In reflecting on our time together, I realize that it doesn’t matter what he would have done with me. I wasn’t calling the shots so when I got my workouts every two weeks, I always had something to say about the quantity or quality of the miles (or both). That is completely unfair to him. He really did support my goals and did his best to train me to achieve them.

The biggest problem was that I went to him injured last summer and haven’t been able to kick the injuries since. So in all fairness, he did amazing things with the mileage I was able to run during our time working together. His workouts were fun and different from what I was used to. Even though I don’t know that I learned a lot about actually training for marathons (there is my own arrogance getting in the way again), I learned a lot about the other disciplines, particularly swimming. I also got to the gym to strength train regularly, and I can see the value of it and plan to continue it.

But one point that I always made with him holds true. The one aspect my training has been missing is high mileage. I’m a firm believer that if you want to run faster, you need to put in more miles and build a solid aerobic foundation. I used to bust out 60-70+ miles per week, and that’s when I ran my fastest. Yes, speed work is equally as important, but you need to have a solid base to support it. I will be hitting the track and getting my fast miles in when I can, but I need to build my base of long, slow miles. When I was training with my coach, I was mostly averaging 40-50 miles per week, and if I got closer to that 60 mile mark, it was because I added some distance in on my own. However, for much of our time together, I had some injuries that prevented my base from getting back to where it used to be, so I can’t fault him for that. Another factor missing from my training over the past year is the mid-week long run. One of the plans I often consult when building my own program talks about the importance of a decent long run mid week in addition to weekend long runs. I’m talking a run that’s in the 15 mile range. I can’t tell you the last time I ran 15 miles in the middle of the week, but I can promise if I looked back at my training logs, it was around the time I was at my peak fitness.

The bottom line to it all? Working with him is a lot of money to be spending when I’m not seeing results. So whether I go back to working with him again or hire a different coach in the future, I need to do what I know how to do best: build my base back up and get my mental game back. Regardless of whether I had a better time in me or not at Grandma’s, one thing is for sure: I straight up gave up early on, and that isn’t me. I don’t give up. So when did that start? Maybe I started putting too much pressure on myself. But I also know I haven’t raced much at all this year – and racing builds my confidence. The races that I’ve done this year knocked me down and made me fearful of even trying to PR. They’ve made me second guess myself and my training, and it’s affecting more than just my times. It’s affecting my mental game, and my enjoyment for the sport. I’m signed up for most of the races above already (still working out the deets for Hartford). Perhaps I was a little trigger happy with that, but regardless of the outcome, I need to get out there to remember how to fight.

“‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me…”

Do you work with a coach? How do you come back from a race that didn’t go your way?

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29 thoughts on “Onward!

  1. kiwiyogirunner June 25, 2015 / 7:51 am

    Onward and upward girl!! 🙂 I truly believe that every person knows in their heart what is best for them and what they really need and it sounds like you are super in touch with that. Sounds like this race was probably an important part of your journey!
    Hope you are having an awesome day! 🙂

    • allisonfiorini June 25, 2015 / 7:59 am

      Thanks, sister! I learned a lot from this race for sure and I think it will only help me out later! I’m excited to move on!

  2. suzysuzyheather June 25, 2015 / 9:04 am

    I’ve never worked with a coach, no. I run because I don’t have to deal with people, so having a coach would go against that. Ha! People ask me how to get faster, and I tell them that to get better at anything, you need to do it more. That’s where the high mileage comes in and that’s how I got a whole lot faster was by upping that mileage. It’s tricky, though. You really gotta know your body and feel its limits. Some weeks I can handle 80 miles and then some weeks I get that “uh-oh” feeling and I just back off a bit.

    • allisonfiorini June 26, 2015 / 4:27 am

      So funny because I used to say exactly that before working with my coach – to get faster, run more. That’s when I got faster, and you definitely have to be really in tune with your body and know when it’s okay to back off!!

  3. Jamie June 25, 2015 / 9:16 am

    Love the Hartford Marathon! Special place in my heart since it was my first BQ! Great course, and pretty flat which is nice. I have never worked with a coach but have played with the idea in the past. I’m with you that I’m probably so set in my ways with my own training, I think it would be a different dynamic to follow someone else’s instruction.

    • allisonfiorini June 26, 2015 / 4:30 am

      Wooowwww, interesting to hear your thoughts on Hartford! So cool that it was your first BQ 🙂 I am going to that race solo because I can’t convince anyone to do it with me – everyone thinks it’s a hilly beast! I’m not scared, but it’s just what everyone says. How does it compare to Boston? Although I personally don’t think Boston is very hilly – just gets a little rolling in that tricky Newton area!!

      • Jamie June 26, 2015 / 11:10 am

        I didn’t think Boston was as bad as people make it out to be. Hartford is similar to Boston for the first 6ish miles, but miles 14 – 22 are an out and back if I remember correctly and it is PANCAKE flat. And it’s through a rural neighborhood and they were handing out lemon bars … I wish I could’ve taken some for after – they looked AMAZING!

      • allisonfiorini June 26, 2015 / 8:03 pm

        No, this was my 5th time running Boston and I never thought it was as bad as people say either! My Garmin claims you only have an elevation gain of about 750′ running that course – most of my long runs have elevation gains of 1000+ so for me, it’s decent. Thanks for the insight on Hartford – that sounds really awesome and I’m so excited for it! I hope I have as good of an experience as you did 🙂 Have a great weekend!

  4. runner1313 June 25, 2015 / 9:41 am

    Onward is right! We all have to move forward. Learn lessons, and take it with us. Good luck!

  5. Hanna @ TheMillennialNextDoor June 25, 2015 / 10:18 am

    I have never worked with a coach, but I’m toying with it for the future. I think I can get a BQ on my own, so it will definitely be after that. But honestly, I’m kind of torn about it. On the one hand: I always want to keep improving and I know that one day I’m going to get to a point where I can’t improve any more on my own and I need that extra push to get to the next level. But on the other hand….I have a hard time putting that much trust in another person who ultimately doesn’t know me as well as I do. I would be afraid to completely change everything I’ve come to know on some other person’s advice when it may not work out and may even set me back. But…my BQ is quite a ways off so I have some time to think about it 🙂

    I got so excited reading this post, like I’m vicariously on the rebound with you!! Can’t wait!! I love big comebacks. I had a really disappointing race last month at the GB Half, when I totally blew up because of stupid mistakes that I knew better than to make. I think what helped me get over it was knowing that I was banking valuable experience from that bad race, which would just make me even better for my next race (Grandma’s!). Looking ahead to the next big thing has always been my coping mechanism for disappointment. I think the same can be true for you: you can use the lessons you learned on Saturday to make you even wiser. Sometimes even though we know things are true, we don’t really KNOW them until we experience them. You’re better for this!

    • allisonfiorini June 26, 2015 / 4:39 am

      Thank you so much 🙂 🙂 That was my reason for having a coach: I wanted to get that extra push to get to the next level. But it just wasn’t happening with him. Maybe it was because he was the wrong coach for me, or maybe it was because I really do know more about marathons than he does. He technically is a triathlon coach – has done (and won) Ironmans and shorter distances, but has only done one marathon. I knew that going in – it was what I liked about him because I love to cross train and wanted to play up that aspect. Like you said, it’s hard putting your trust in someone and getting set back. That’s what happened to me. But in my case, the fault can’t be placed on him. I was the one with the injuries (did I get injured BECAUSE of his workouts? That I still don’t know for sure), and ultimately I chose to trust that his training was the right thing for me, even though my gut constantly said otherwise. I have made the mistake of going out too fast before – but the lesson I learned is that I need to run my own race. I was so worried about that pacer getting further away that I failed to realize he was going faster than necessary at that point in the race. I panicked and I shut down. I should have (once again) followed my gut and my own plan!!! Can’t wait to see what’s next for BOTH of us! Woohooo!

  6. Amy Lauren June 25, 2015 / 10:58 am

    I’ve been in a few coaching/training programs but have never worked with a coach in the sense of a personally written training plan with paces, workouts, etc. I’m a hobbyjogger and do this for fun and bling anyway :). If I planned to ever train for a marathon, I would invest some money into coaching, consulting, some sort of plan, etc.

    I think you made the right decision in breaking up with your coach. It sounds like you gave him a shot with staying with it for a year, so it’s not like you went through one training cycle and broke up with him (as we know sometimes bad races or even bad training cycles happen). Plus, if your ways of training aren’t jiving with the coach, they just might not be the coach for you even if they are a great coach for someone else. Everyone trains differently and no one way is necessarily better than another. I personally like to run around 40 mpw but I have friends who run half of that and do a bunch of cross training and they are excellent runners and faster than me (I hate cross training). Plus, anyone who’s been running for years has different expectations and baggage than someone who is training for their first half or full and that’s hard for a runner and a coach to work with mentally.

    • allisonfiorini June 26, 2015 / 4:43 am

      Thanks for the support 🙂 You know, you said it perfectly – I did give him a good shot. Not only did I stay with him for a year and two training cycles, I did 5 marathons during that time. No PRs. One got close, but it was RIGHT when I began working with him and believe it was my own base that got me there. The way you wrote it really made me feel better about my decision. Not that I regret my “break up” but because I kept wondering if maybe I didn’t give him a fair shot. But that put it into perspective to think of it that way!

  7. Morgan @ Managing Mommyhood June 25, 2015 / 12:11 pm

    Go you for knowing how your body thrives and what it takes to get you there. Keep on glint girl, you’ll hit your goals with or without a couch as long as you keep working and keep trying!

    • allisonfiorini June 26, 2015 / 4:48 am

      Thank you so much for the support and encouragement!! 🙂

  8. charissarunning June 25, 2015 / 1:40 pm

    The most important thing is that you keep enjoying running however you can and if that means training yourself again (because that’s what’s comfortable and fun for you) then that’s ultimately the best decision you can make for yourself. I think you need some time to yourself to unwind and just run. Take that pressure off for a little bit and when you find that spark again kick it up a notch. I have no doubt you’ll get there. Can’t wait to see what your next training cycle brings!! Also, that 10k does look like good timing. I won’t commit to it yet but I’ll certainly think about it 😉

    As for the coaching thing, I’d love to try it out one day, but I also really like the flexibility that comes with training myself. I want a BQ but my primary goal is to enjoy life and if that means skipping a run because I’m tired or want to hang out with friends that I won’t see again for awhile, I’m ok with skipping a run. Perhaps it will get me to my BQ a little later than originally planned but I’m content with that as long as I still love running.

    • allisonfiorini June 26, 2015 / 4:52 am

      Thank you 🙂 It’s not even that I need what’s comfortable to me – being comfortable with the uncomfortable is good – it’s that his method just didn’t work for me. I think deep down I knew that from pretty early on, but I wanted to give it a fair shot anyway. I hope you decide to do the 10K!!!!! It would be awesome to do another race with you again soon. Also, I think you do a fantastic job of training yourself. You have a really good perspective and a good balance between running and life, and I think that will get you that BQ faster than you think 🙂

  9. Alanna June 25, 2015 / 2:48 pm

    I’ve never worked with a coach, mostly because I don’t want to spend the money. I’m a really stubborn person as well. Just stick with what works for you! I would love to BQ one day, but if I don’t get there it will be okay too. It’s just a dream of mine. I’m amazed at how many miles you put in per week. How do you find the time? I would love to run 60+ miles per week but I don’t think that’s possible right now. I feel really guilty missing out on time with my daughter when I run, but I need my me time. 🙂

    • allisonfiorini June 26, 2015 / 4:59 am

      You WILL get that BQ someday! Especially because you have an awesome attitude about it. My schedule is what makes it possible to fit it all in. I’m a high school teacher, so my hours are 7:09 (so weird. not 7:10. Haha) to 2:35. I can squeeze in a short morning workout and really get some good workouts in the afternoon and still be home at a reasonable hour! In the summer, I get up early and spend my morning working out so I can get in whatever I want. I don’t have kids (yet – I’m 32 – should probably get on that soon if I’m going to do it!!) so it’s just me and my hubby!

      • Alanna June 26, 2015 / 5:20 am

        I love that 7:09 start time. Thanks so much for the encouragement! There’s no rush to have kids. I love my daughter so much and I wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world, but it’s not always easy. 🙂
        I’m sure you get a big dose of reality everyday being a teacher. I had thought about doing that at one point then realized I don’t have the patience.

      • allisonfiorini June 26, 2015 / 5:25 am

        I’m not going to lie, being a high school teacher has made me think twice about it!! My brother in law was actually just giving me a hard time last night about not having kids yet. So really – thank you so much for that comment about there being no rush. That’s what I always say, but I hate when other people make me feel otherwise!

  10. cupcakesandmiles June 26, 2015 / 11:01 pm

    Love your fresh perspective! I know Grandma’s didn’t go the way you wanted, but I love that you are rising above it.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with breaking up with your coach. And I see nothing selfish about it. Investing in a coach is just that- an investment. If your measurable goals are not measuring up, I think you almost need to step back and reassess the situation to figure out if you need a coach in the first place, and if so, if he’s the right one.

    Have a great weekend!

    • allisonfiorini June 29, 2015 / 4:50 am

      Thank you! I’m hoping I can rise above it 🙂 You said it perfectly – my measurable goals weren’t measuring up. Exactly my rationale for my “break up”!

  11. Melanie @ Runnergirlinarockingworld June 27, 2015 / 7:06 am

    I had a coach for a few training cycles but then went on my own for the rest. After having the plan, I am motivated enough to do the work on my own. Some of my best times came from training myself vs with a coach. I also listen to my body and run workouts based on how I’m feeling vs what’s written down. My main goal is always to stay injury free and only I can judge what I can and should be running. For every race that goes wrong, we learn something about our training and ourselves. It’s a blessing otherwise we’d never have anything to continue to work for or towards if everything went right all the time. From struggles comes greatness! 🙂

    • allisonfiorini June 29, 2015 / 4:55 am

      Thank you so much!!! For me, I chose to work with a coach for two reasons – to stay injury free and to break 3 hours in a marathon. Well, I was more injured over the past year than I ever was before and I got further from my goal! But like you said – I learned. I learned what doesn’t work for me, and now I can put that to good use!!

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