Running Coach

I contacted a running coach a few weeks ago and finally met with him today. He’s fairly active in the Indianapolis running community, so I was a bit intimidated, and not really sure this is something I want to do. I feel like I need help, with all the challenges I’ve faced this last year. I want to make running a part of my life. I enjoy it. My dog enjoys it. I miss it now that I can’t do it. And I am frustrated that I have spent the better part of this last year healing from injury.

I first contacted Matt before I had discovered that I can do physical therapy, so the timing of that and then this was kind of interesting, but I decided I just want to see what my options are and what will work for me.

Matt was very low key and easy to talk to, and he did commend me for still being here even with all that’s happened this last year. I didn’t feel silly for being a 47-year-old newbie runner.

He had a lot of good things to say, good suggestions for how I should proceed once I’m back on my feet. We won’t do anything official together until I am ready to start running again. He asked me what my goals are, and my main goal is to stay healthy! I have three training races and two half marathons already on the agenda for next year, and I’d like to add at least the Monumental Half as well. But mostly, I want to get running and stay healthy. That’s where I think a running coach will really help, because it will keep me from doing too much too soon. Andy also said he has a plan to work with this.

Matt had me run also, and he reminded me of cadence–shorter stride, faster feet. This will lessen the amount of heel strike all on its own. I remember seeing the magic number of 180 steps per minute, and when I try that it does not feel too fast, as long as the stride is shortened. Something to remember once I’m back to running. I remember during training for the Mini Marathon, when I was nursing shin splints, the training coach then mentioned that my walking stride was too long and that was exacerbating the shin splints. So that short stride, faster feet rings true for both running and walking.

I told Matt that I am an interval runner/walker. I am faster when I run this way, rather than running at my sustainable pace of about 15min/mile. I can’t walk that fast, but a lot of people can. When I do intervals of running and walking I can get closer to 13min/mile, when I am healthy! I had gotten that under 13min/mile, but injuries are keeping me at that 1:00 run / 2:00 walk split, and I had hoped to improve that. One suggestion Matt had for trying to increase that speed/time is to change up the intervals during part of the run. Maybe for the last mile trying 2:00 run to 1:00 walk, or something like that. I have done some of that during some of my runs, and that felt good, so it’s a good suggestion.

There are a lot of other things that serious runners do that I am unfamiliar with. Things like Tempo Runs, Speed Runs, having a 5k pace, a 10k pace, etc.. I hear the words and terminology but they’re still foreign concepts to me. I can see that a 5k pace would be faster than a half marathon pace, for a “real” runner, but for me, I just have my pace. So I am not really used to thinking like that. But I am curious if doing these other types of runs can help me improve. While I’m not looking to win my age group, I am hoping to at least better my own times, and maybe even reach a better than 3 hour half marathon.