My Running Coach


In November, I decided I wanted to hire a running coach to help me with my first marathon and to try to qualify for the Boston Marathon. There are a plethora of options, with price tags to match. I’ve tried several of the more popular training programs as well as a semi-personal coach through NYRR (not a great setup although the plan itself was good), and I really wanted something that integrated my needs and current fitness as a 44-year-old beginner-ish runner.

After much research, I decided that McMillan Running would suit me best, and I signed up, filled out their extensive runner questionnaire, and waited to be assigned.

I was assigned to Coach Emily Harrison. I’m sort of a low-maintenance kind of person, so our interactions have been minimal, but I do have the option for Skype talks as well as plenty of email exchanges.

I’ve really liked the program thus far and feel like it’s helped me increase endurance without injury (my plyometrics injury excluded since I don’t believe that was caused by running). Right now we’re focusing on marathon-specific training, which means solid focus on the last several miles of the marathon. I’ve got fast finish training runs on my schedule, which scare me, but since fast finish means marathon pace, not 5k pace, it is within my ability.

One of the most exciting things about working with Emily is that she is a phenomenal runner herself. She’s was listed as one of last year’s top 10 female ultra runners by Ultrarunner magazine. More recently, she won the JFK 50 mile race and the 2014 USATF 50k Road Championship. In the latter event, she broke the course record.

Obviously, my coach knows what she is doing.

If I were a better blogger, I would ask her for an interview. But until then, here is a link to one from Click through to the training notes from Emily’s coach, Ian Torrence, to read what she does to train. Interestingly, my training plan isn’t so different. One of the things her coach mentions was that he needed to teach Emily more confidence. I guess I shouldn’t feel bad that this is where I need improvement too. If a champ has to train for confidence as well, it’s even more common an issue than I realized.

I’ll never be as good as Emily (she’s more than 15 years younger than I am, for one), but I do feel like I made an excellent choice in McMillan Running for my training. The rest is up to me.


21 thoughts on “My Running Coach

  1. Confidence is so important. I learned that after finishing my first marathon šŸ™‚ Those last 6.2 miles are when the race really starts and it helps if you believe you can do it.

  2. Cool, I hope it works out for you! I’d love to try for Boston someday, but right now I’d have to run like a 3:10 or so marathon to qualify. That ain’t happenin right now.

  3. I LOVE having a coach who can tailor-make a program for me and my needs/schedule ( Mine happens to be local, which is nice since I can actually see her from time to time. Good luck!!!!

    • I’d love to have a local coach one day, but I couldn’t find one in my area that suited quite as well. I don’t count the coach I run with for my group runs. He barely remembers that I’m running a full marathon and not the half, never mind tailoring a training program to me.

  4. Oh, that’s fantastic! I’m a McMillan disciple myself, and his book is my running bible. In a way, I love being in control of my own running plans, but I’ve been very tempted to sign up for coached training with them for a while now. I might try it for a future marathon – your review certainly indicates that it’s a great idea!

    • I think after attempting a BQ (and if I do, I’ll train through with Emily), I may go bad to self coaching. But having a big goal and being newish to running, it’s been a great experience.

  5. Im glad you found good leadership….Now how many dollars did you make for this advertisement!:) It looks like she did a fabulous job getting you through the last one….and I can only assume the many that follow!:)

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