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 irunfar.com. 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.